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Billions Award for Empire of the Sun's 'Walking on a Dream'

Media Published Monday 15 January 2024
L-R: Jono Sloan and Nick Littlemore. Photo by Adam Davis-Powell

2008 debut single from Empire of the Sun, 'Walking on a Dream' honoured with Billions Award

Nick Littlemore, Luke Steele and Jono Sloan’s evergreen hit cruises past one billion streams

Nick Littlemore, Luke Steele and Jono Sloan of Empire of the Sun have been honoured for their much-loved worldwide hit ‘Walking on a Dream’, with a place on APRA AMCOS’ The 1,000,000,000 List, for songs surpassing one billion streams.

The ‘Billions Award’ is given to APRA AMCOS songwriter members and their publishers in recognition of a song’s streaming success and was presented to Littlemore and Sloan at the music rights organisation's Sydney headquarters. The song’s publishers are Universal Music Publishing for Littlemore, Sony Music Publishing for Steele, and Kobalt Music Publishing for Sloan, who BMG previously published.

Released as the group’s debut single in 2008, the song connected with Australian and New Zealand fans straight away. It reached #10 on the ARIA Singles Chart and won Single of the Year at the 2009 ARIA Music Awards. At the 2010 APRA Music Awards, ‘Walking on a Dream’ was awarded Dance Work of the Year and the trio jointly won the Breakthrough Songwriter award.

The song had a major resurgence in the US in 2016 when it was used in a Honda Civic advertisement that was broadcast widely, and kick-started commercial radio airplay and streaming, leading to #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Charts. At the song’s peak, it was earning royalties from 53 countries and is 10x platinum in Australia, and platinum in the US and UK.

In 2022, the song was launched as the theme and soundtrack to a five-year global campaign for Western Australia Tourism. It was nominated last year in the new ARIA category of Best Use of an Australian Recording in an Advertisement.

On accepting the award, Jono and Nick shared a little of the song’s backstory.

Jono wrote the music in his bedroom in Kings Cross in a 45-minute music-making burst, but it would sit on a hard drive for a while until he gave it to Nick, who took it to Luke when they were living in Perth.

“This backing track - as we all know - is resplendent and it kind of came out of us, very naturally. It was meant to be,” said Nick.

Upon getting the demo back with Luke and Nick’s melody and lyrics, Jono said, “It felt like something we hadn’t experienced before. It was very overwhelming. The emotive response was huge.”

As to the song’s longevity, Nick said, “It’s an evergreen record…it’s new for every generation. It’s the hope as a songwriter or creator in any sense that you can continually reach the kids and give them something to play back.”

Damian Trotter, Managing Director, Sony Music Publishing Australia, said: “As the voice, face and co-writer of Empire of the Sun and of this globally recognised song, ‘Walking on a Dream’, Luke Steele is unquestionably one of the most unique and talented artists ever to have emerged from ANZ.

“Luke is a true artist in every sense of the word and his creative vision knows no bounds. We at Sony Music Publishing are honoured to have worked with Luke from the earliest days of his career and can't think of anyone more deserving of joining this Billionaire’s club.”

Andrew Jenkins, President, Australia and Asia Pacific Region, Universal Music Publishing Group, said: “I am delighted for Nick. He continues to raise the bar and I am confident this is just one of many Billions Awards that he will go on to collect in the future. Congratulations Nick from everyone at Universal Music Publishing around the world.”

Dean Ormston, Chief Executive, APRA AMCOS, said: “It is an honour to acknowledge ‘Walking on a Dream’, a song that retains its freshness and otherworldly sound no matter what year it is or where you are in the world.

“Nick, Luke and Jono are very special songwriters and longtime APRA AMCOS members, who we are proud to support on a worldwide scale and through the next billion streams. Congratulations to the publishers of this song, who work day in and out to continue to give it a long life.”

The 1,000,000,000 List takes into account streaming numbers from major services Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. It is the first award of its kind to recognise a songwriter’s achievement.

'Walking on a Dream' - Empire of the Sun