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We answer your PDA 2024 FAQs

Tip Published Wednesday 30 August 2023
There are a few important things to consider when writing your PDA application - image by Jess Gleeson

Applications are open for the APRA Professional Development Awards (PDAs) 2024!

We encourage all our emerging composer and songwriter members to consider applying.

Here we answer some common questions about the PDAs, to give you the best chance of success in your application

What are the PDAs?

The APRA PDAs are an annual award given out to emerging composers and writers. Twelve recipients each receive a $10,000 cash prize to support their development.

Who can apply?

Emerging composers and songwriters who are APRA members can apply. This includes Australian citizens or New Zealand citizens who have been legal Australian residents for a minimum of two consecutive years as at 1 January 2024.

You may only submit one application per year – but many PDA winners in the past have applied over consecutive years.

2023 PDA winner (Screen Composition category) Luna Pan said in her acceptance speech: “I’m pretty sure this is my fifth year applying for it. I almost gave up…But I’m so glad I didn’t…Hard work pays off.”

Can I use it to fund our next album, or to promote my music project?

The purpose of the Awards is to develop your skills as a songwriter or a composer, not to pay for professional services to promote your work.

Judge Tim Levinson (Urthboy)
says: “The main criteria is that it’s not funding a recording, it’s not promoting a recording, it’s nothing to do with a release. It’s about your professional development, so focus on your professional development, and keep it really specific. Good luck!”

Andrew Khedoori
from Partner Organisation CBAA (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia) agrees: “I’ve been impressed by a variety of artists who are extremely self-motivated and driven to understand the ins-and-outs of the industry and the entry points that may specifically assist their artistic development and careers. I’ve read applications from artists wanting to become self-sufficient by learning how to record themselves, get the best mentoring or songwriting sessions as well as get a keen understanding of all the administration involved in music life with management courses.

So many artists have found what seems to be exactly the right approach for them to move forward and the right place for them to do it. Taking control of your destiny is key.

If you do the research, it can make all the difference to your application.”

Think about which areas you feel like you need to develop to progress to the next stage of your music career. Do you want to attend workshops, music education courses, seminars, or co-writing sessions? These opportunities can take place either domestically or abroad.

PDAs advice from Urthboy

I am in a band. Can the band submit an application?

Applications are only available for individual songwriters. A band’s music may be considered, but only under the individual songwriter’s application.

What category do I pick?

Generally speaking, the category you choose should correspond with the genre of your music. You may only choose one category to apply for.
There is a wide range of music genre categories available to choose from:

  • Popular Contemporary(two awards are given in this category which covers Pop, Rock, Alternative, Blues, Roots, Folk, Metal, Christian and Children's)
  • Country/Americana
  • Jazz & Improvised Music
  • Classical & Experimental
  • Dance/Electronic
  • Hip Hop/Rap/R&B/Soul
  • Screen Composition (film, television and games)
  • Music Theatre - workshop funding only  (see below 'Music Theatre Guidelines' heading for application details)

The exception to the music genre categories are the three NATSIMO (National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Music Office) categories, which are open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander composers and songwriters in any genre.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander members can choose either to apply for a genre category (listed above), or for one of the 3x NATSIMO categories – General, Youth and Senior. For example, an ATSI member may choose to apply in the Hip Hop/ Rap/ R&B/ Soul category, but that then removes them from eligibility in the NATSIMO category.

What do Partner Organisations do? How do I choose a partner organisation to review my application?

Parter Organisations assist in reviewing applications, and create an applicant shortlist to provide to judges. Choose a partner organsation that feels most relevant to your project and the types of professional development you are seeking.

However please note – some categories either only have one Partner Organisation to choose from, or do not need a Partner Organisation to be selected:

  • Applicants in the ‘Screen Composition’ category may only select the Australian Guild of Screen Composers as their Partner Organisation
  • Applicants in the ‘Classical & Experimental’ category can only select the Australian Music Centre
  • Applicants in the Music Theatre category can only select Origin Music
  • The three NATSIMO categories (3x categories) do not require a Partner Organisation

Learn more about Partner Organisations and see the full list here.

Ask others for assistance!

If in doubt, ask those around you to help with your application. Georgia Delves, in her acceptance speech of her PDA 2023 in the Country/ Americana category, said:
“These awards are a group effort, it’s a symbol of so many people believing in me, offering their time and kindness, replying to emails, mentoring me to how best to fill out an application. I’m just really thankful to anyone whose given me their time and care and support. I’m self-managed and it feels really good to be up here.”

Make sure to give yourself enough time to put together a good application– entries close 5pm AEST 26 September.

If you have any further questions, get in touch with us at [email protected]