Record breaking number of Australian Songwriters honoured in US-Based International Songwriting Competition

Mia Rodriguez

The International Songwriting Competition (ISC) has announced its 2020 winners, and this year marks a high point for Australian artists and songwriters, racking up the most Aussie First Place wins in the competition’s history,.

Australian writers have taken home six First Places (including Mia Rodriguez, pictured), three Second Places, one Third Place, and 35 Honorable Mentions.

“Once again Aussie songwriters and artists have exceeded our expectations,” said Candace Avery, ISC Founder and Director. “There must be something magical in the water Down Under because the quality of Aussie entries never fails to impress.”

Throughout the years, many Australian artists have been honored in ISC, including four Grand Prize winners: Tones And I; Kate Miller-Heidke; Kasey Chambers; and Vance Joy.

Additional winners have included Amy Shark; Augie March; Big Scary; Birds of Tokyo; Dean Lewis; Eskimo Joe; Flight Facilities; Gang of Youths; Gotye; Guy Sebastian; Jebediah; Matt Corby; Missy Higgins; Ocean Alley; Ruel; Sarah Blasko; Shane Nicholson; The Living End; Troy Cassar-Daley; Vera Blue; Washington; and many, many more.

Now going into its 20th year, ISC is the world’s largest and most prestigious international songwriting competition, receiving more than 26,000 entries from 158 countries. More than $150,000 in cash and merchandise is awarded to 71 winners in 23 categories covering all genres of music.

Additional winners hail from all over the world (56% of this year’s winners come from outside the USA) and range from talented amateurs to seasoned songwriting veterans. The 23 categories include all genres of contemporary music, from Rock to Pop to Country to R&B/Hip-Hop and more.

ISC’s highest honor is awarded to Swedish folk/pop duo Smith & Thell and songwriter/producer Peter Kvint for their co-written song “Goliath.”

The Grand Prize includes $25,000 in cash (US) and more than $40,000 in additional merchandise and services. The winning song (from their 2021 album Pixie’s Parasol) delivers a message of hope, determination, and perseverance. Although it was written in response to a year that was particularly challenging for them personally, the song’s impassioned and uplifting themes are universally shared in light of recent events throughout the world. They described “Goliath” as their anthem for the underdog.

The 2020 Australian winners are as follows:

First Place Winners

“Back Up” – Lucy Parle – Lisarow, NSW – Teen
“Fucked Myself Up” – Mercedes Thorne, Edwin White, Joel Quartermain (Merci, Mercy) – Melbourne, VIC – AAA (Adult Album Alternative)
“Good Lord” – Ian Berney, Ian Kenny, Glenn Sarangapany, Adam Glenn, Adam Weston (Birds Of Tokyo) – Sydney, NSW – AC (Adult Contemporary)
“I Won’t Sleep Tonight” – Zac Crawford, Ben Crawford, Jarred Taylor (Jarred Taylor X Crawford Brothers) – Hinton, NSW – Unsigned Only
“Paradise” – Julian Hamilton, Kim Moyes, Thomas Stell (Golden Features x The Presets) – Sydney, NSW – EDM (Electronic Dance Music)
“Psycho” – Mia Rodriguez, Gustav Nyström, Alina Paulsen (Mia Rodriguez) – Sydney, NSW – Pop/Top 40

Second Place Winners

“Come Home” – Ryan Dobbrick, James Vincent, Emily Coulston (Du0) – Brisbane, QLD – EDM
“Say Something” – Kavyen Temperley, Stuart MacLeod, Joel Quartermain (Eskimo Joe) – Melbourne, VIC – Rock
“Work For Me” – Mia Wray – Melbourne, VIC – Performance
Third Place Winners

“Die Young” – George Sheppard, Jason Bovino, Amy Sheppard, Jon Hume (Sheppard) – Sydney, NSW – Pop/Top 40

Honorable Mention

“All Glory & Honour” – Billy Smiley, Ida Maree (Ida Maree) – Melbourne, VIC – Christian
“Better” – James A.T. Draper, Jordan D. Brady (WINTERBOURNE) – Sydney, NSW – AAA
“Better” – James A.T. Draper, Jordan D. Brady (WINTERBOURNE) – Sydney, NSW – Unpublished
“Breathing To Prove That I Can” – Georgie Raft (Georgie Raft) – Adelaide, SA – Teen
“Come Home” – Ryan Dobbrick, James Vincent, Emily Coulston (Du0) – Brisbane, QLD – Unsigned Only
“Crinkle Cut” – Asha Jefferies, Chris Collins (Asha Jefferies) – Brisbane, QLD, – Folk/Singer-Songwriter
“Drift” – Bree Rusev (Bree Rusev) – Newcastle, NSW – Teen
“Gasoline” – Georgina Kingsley (Georgi Kay) – Perth, WA – AC
“Gasoline” – Georgina Kingsley (Georgi Kay) – Perth, WA – Unsigned Only
“Grasping At The Water” – Leigh Gardiner, Andrew Atthowe, Erin Gordon, Rebecca Erin Smith (Chuditch) – Perth, WA – Lyrics Only
“Gravity” – Yorke, Gab Strum (Yorke) – Bangalow, NSW – Pop/Top 40
“How Do You Sleep At Night” – Anya Alchemy (Anya Alchemy) – Melbourne, VIC – Teen
“I Woke Up With The Hiccups” – Emily Mcknight, Robin Gist, Peter Bailey (Emily Who) – Sydney, NSW – Children’s Music
“I Won’t Sleep Tonight” – Zac Crawford, Ben Crawford, Jarred Taylor (Jarred Taylor X Crawford Brothers) – Hinton, NSW – Country
“Lay Low” – Nick De La Hoyde, Joseph De La Hoyde (Nick De La Hoyde) – Sydney, NSW – Pop/Top 40
“Manchester By The Sea” – Trent-Jean Michel (Trent-Jean) – Perth, WA – AAA
“Manchester By The Sea” – Trent-Jean Michel (Trent-Jean) – Perth, WA – Unsigned Only
“My Opera Career’s Over” – Robert Macfarlane, Kanen Breen (Nurseratched) – Melbourne, VIC,  – Comedy/Novelty
“Off To One Side” – Steve Seaton (Steve Seaton) – Hope Island, QLD – Lyrics Only
“Old Crow Feather” – Gareth Leach (Gareth Leach) – Melbourne, VIC – Americana
“Paper Dragon” – ELKI, Dami Im (Dami Im) – Sydney, NSW, – Unpublished
“People You Know” – Will Tyler, Matt Tyler, Mitch Tyler, Chris Collins (Alt Fiction) – Gold Coast, QLD – Unpublished
“Ready To Live” – Cole Phoenix, Cameron Stymeist (Cole Phoenix) – Brisbane, QLD – Christian
“Recovery” – Mason Watts, Edd Holloway (Mason Watts) – Sydney, NSW – AC
“Runaway” – Benjamin Woolner-Kirkham, Michael Bell, Harrison Sayers (SAFIA) – Canberra, ACT – AAA
“Shadows” – Ryan Dobbrick, Ryan Courtney (Du0) – Brisbane, QLD – (EDM)
“Somebody Like You” – Simon Rudston-Brown, Melinda Kirwin (FALLS) – Sydney, NSW – Americana
“Sparks Fly” – Casey Barnes, Samuel Gray, Kaci Brown (Casey Barnes) – Sydney, NSW –Country
“Speed” – Jordyn Richards (Jordyn) – Ryde, NSW – Teen
“Symphony” – George Sheppard, Amy Sheppard, Jay Bovino, Keith Sorrells, Alex Niceforo (Sheppard) – Sydney, NSW – AC
“Tell Me It’s Over” – Aminah Hughes (Aminah Hughes) – Perth, WA – Performance
“The Good Ones” – Jackie Sannia (SANNIA) – Frankston South, VIC – Performance
“Tick Tock” – Loren Kate (Loren Kate) – Aldinga Beach, SA – Unpublished
“Two Of Us” – Ian Berney, Ian Kenny, Glenn Sarangapany, Adam Glenn, Adam Weston (Birds of Tokyo) – Sydney, NSW – Pop/Top 40
“You + Me” – Joe Mungovan (Joe Mungovan) – Kiama, NSW – Unpublished

For a complete list of ISC 2020 winners go to:

The complete panel of 2020 judges includes:

Recording Artists: Dua Lipa; Bebe Rexha; Coldplay; Tom Waits; Linkin Park; Trevor Daniel; Nancy Wilson (Heart); Tanya Tucker; Cam; Kristian Bush (Sugarland); Laura Pausini; Arturo Sandoval; American Authors; Sara Evans; Keane; Sidewalk Prophets; Danilo Perez; Jack DeJohnette; Above & Beyond; James McNally (Afro Celt Sound System); Easton Corbin; Krewella; Camila; Robert Randolph (Robert Randolph & The Family Band); Dave Koz; Joe Louis Walker; Gordon Goodwin; Sam Feldt; Sugaray Rayford; Charles Lloyd; Nicholas Gunn; Ashwin Batish; Lonnie Liston Smith; Jimmy Pardo; Margaret Cho; and Steel Panther.

Industry Executives: Omar Grant (Co-President, Roc Nation Records); Kenny Weagly (President, A&R and Label Services Worldwide, ADA Worldwide, and President, East West US); Daniel Glass (President, Glassnote Records); Ed Vetri (President, Wind-Up Records); Bruce Iglauer (Founder/President, Alligator Records); Kate Labrel (VP of A&R, Warner Records); Nate Albert (Executive VP of A&R, Capitol Records); Jacob Edgar (Founder, Cumbancha); Richard Stumpf (CEO, Atlas Publishing); Kim Buie (VP of A&R, New West Records); Samantha Jervey (Director of A&R, Capitol Christian Music Group); Dahlia Ambach Caplin (Sr. VP, Verve Label Group); Golnar Khosrowshahi (President, Reservoir Media Management); Cory Robbins (Founder/President, Robbins Entertainment); Julie Kertes (Editor/Manager, Hot Diggity Media); Leib Ostrow (Founder/CEO, Music For Little People); Katherine Dines (Co-President, The Children’s Music Network); Claire S. Green (President, Parent’s Choice Foundation); Benjamin Groff (Founder, The Brill Building); Marni Greenberg (Head of Music Communication, YouTube); Tamara Conniff (EVP, Roc Nation); Carl Caprioglio (Founder/CEO, Oglio Entertainment); and Elena Epstein (Director, National Parenting Product Awards).

ISC is sponsored by: Arturia, Audeze, Celebrity Access, Eventric, Fender, Fano Guitars, Gig Salad, iZotope, Lurssen Mastering, Merch Cat, Musicians Institute, Play MPE, PreSonus, Shure, SongU, Sweetwater, and TuneCore.

Are you a songwriter who wants to be a part of the list next year? Entries are now open for ISC 2021. In honor of ISC’s upcoming 20th anniversary, entries are only $20 for a limited time. This marks the lowest entry fee in ISC this year.

For more information and to enter, go to

Header image credit: Bruce Baker

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