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Billions Award for PJ Harding for Noah Cyrus hit ‘July’

Media Published Friday 3 March 2023
Dean Ormson and PJ Harding (photo by Four Minutes to Midnight)

The song is the hallmark of a successful creative collaboration between PJ Harding and Noah Cyrus.

'July' is certified 4x platinum in the US, 5x platinum Australia, 7x platinum Canada.

"It’s a two-and-a-half-minute song and people just keep playing it," said Harding.

Sydney-based songwriter and producer PJ Harding was honoured with APRA AMCOS’ Billions Award for Noah Cyrus’ hit ‘July’, a song that is at the heart of the duo’s repertoire of musical collaborations.

The award is given to APRA AMCOS songwriter members and their publishers in recognition of a song surpassing one billion streams and was presented to Harding and Universal Music Publishing yesterday at the music rights organisation's head office in Sydney.

PJ first met Noah Cyrus at the prestigious Bali Invitational songwriting camp, which brings together an international roster of artists, songwriters and producers to collaborate on new songs. ‘July’ started to take shape at the 2019 camp, as did several songs that featured on Noah’s 2020 EP The End of Everything. ‘July’ is produced by Canadian producer/songwriter Michael Sonier, who is also credited as a writer on the song.

Released in July 2019, ‘July’ showcased a new Americana sound for Noah. The single was highlighted in Billboard on release: “Chill-inducing harmonies layered over simple acoustic instrumentation allow the song’s contemplative lyrics to take center stage, co-written by Cyrus’ friend Peter Harding.”

The song connected with fans immediately and was followed with a duet version sung by Noah and soul artist Leon Bridges later in the year, propelling the single into the Billboard Hot 100 in early 2020.

The success of the song and EP saw Noah Cyrus nominated for Best New Artist at the 2021 Grammy Awards.

‘July’ has reached multiple platinum status with seven times platinum in Canada, five times platinum in Australia, quadruple platinum in the US; and platinum in the UK, Austria, and Denmark. It was a top 10 song in New Zealand and the Netherlands.

In 2021, Harding and Cyrus released the People Don’t Change EP, featuring the single ‘Dear August’.

On accepting his award, Harding said, “It's such a very strange thing for this song to have done what it's done. It’s a two-and-a-half-minute song and people just keep playing it.

“I feel very privileged to be able to do this and very grateful.”

In a Q&A with singer/songwriter and Board Chair of APRA Jenny Morris, Harding spoke about the recording of the song, which was the demo version that was ultimately released.

“It is my philosophy with records that they should be like you’re capturing something real and in the moment. And I think there's no kind of moment more loaded with energy and magic than when you've just written a really good song,” he said.

“Honouring PJ Harding with the 46th Billions Award to date is really gratifying because we have known PJ for a long time -- through SongHubs, the APRA Music Awards and his numerous collaborations with Australian artists like Ruel, Bliss n Eso , Guy Sebastian and Meg Mac. PJ is living here in Sydney and it’s really wonderful to see that our global stars can have a career from home,” said Dean Ormston, CEO, APRA AMCOS.

“As my very first signing for UMPG, PJ will always occupy a very special place in my heart. I couldn’t be prouder of him for reaching one billion streams with Noah Cyrus’ ‘July.’ It’s a masterpiece of a song, and the first of many from the pair; a collaboration that started at the Bali Invitational songwriting camp in 2019 but seemed destined to happen,” said Arwen Hunt, VP Creative / Head of A&R, Universal Music Publishing Group ANZ.

“There are very few writers in the world who can match PJ’s talent. He’s a classic songwriter who, seemingly effortlessly, manages to write song after timeless song, creating moments for millions; songs so beautiful, they will live longer than all of us. Not many people can do that. Mark my words: This is the first APRA Billions Award of many for PJ Harding. He is an absolute treasure and I'm delighted his work is finally getting the recognition it has long deserved.”

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.

'July' - Noah Cyrus

'July' - Noah Cyrus & Leon Bridges