The Northern Ireland Music Prize provides a moment to reflect on the importance of the country's musical output. Each year the prize celebrates the best of Northern Irish music and creates a critical platform for the country's diverse range of talent.
This year's Best Album category, sponsored by PPL, contains a shortlist which represents the extraordinary breadth of creativity in Northern Ireland. Belfast-based Kitt Philippa, shortlisted for Humans this year and winner of 2019's Best Single, skilfully melds classical, pop and experimental music, while Ciaran Lavery has gained international renown for his honest, emotive songwriting.
This talent must be nurtured through the current crisis, making this year's prize one of the most important in its history. Music is a critical contributor to Northern Ireland's culture, economy, and community and must be championed.
As the UK's licensing body for recorded music, PPL collects hundreds of millions of pounds in royalties for the use of recorded music on radio, TV and in public places around the world. It then pays out to over 100,000 record labels and performers each year, from emerging grassroots artists through to established session musicians and globally renowned artists. This is a vital source of income for many and, in 2020, PPL has so far paid out more than £200m.
PPL also contributes to schemes to help artists take the next step in their careers, such as the PRS Foundation's PPL Momentum Fund, which offers grants of up to £15,000. Kitt Philippa and Ciaran Lavery have been recipients of grants from the fund and prove how support can drive careers forward.
Despite the challenges experienced during 2020, this type of support, on top of the important work of the NI Music Prize and Belfast's Oh Yeah Music Centre, is helping to profile Northern Irish culture and to develop music of exceptional quality.
Congratulations to everyone recognised by this year's Prize - PPL is proud to support you.
Peter Leathem is CEO of PPL