Andrea Czapary Martin

Andrea Czapary Martin: ‘It's important to be authentic as a leader’

PRS for Music’s CEO discusses her leadership style, championing music creators and maximising opportunities for women in the music industry.

Sam Moore
  • By Sam Harteam Moore
  • 15 Dec 2023
  • min read

PRS for Music CEO Andrea Czapary Martin recently capped off a year to remember when she was honoured as Businesswoman Of The Year at Music Week’s Women In Music Awards 2023. 

As well as building a high-performing and diverse team at PRS, Andrea was recognised by the WIMA judges for her strong leadership in keeping PRS on track to fulfil her ambitious five-year plan to pay out £1 billion in royalties by 2026. A record-breaking £836 million in royalties was paid out in 2022 — a 23.5% increase on the previous year — while Andrea's pledge to keep PRS’s organisational costs below 10% of income has been realised four years ahead of schedule.  

This year has also seen Andrea spearhead the expansion of PRS’s pioneering Nexus programme, a transformation initiative that aims to address music metadata issues on a global scale in order to ‘revolutionise’ how music creators are paid. 

To reflect on these successes, Andrea took time to sit down with M and PRS’s Chief People and Transformation Officer Suzanne Hughes to discuss her leadership style, how she maintains her authenticity as a leader and what more can be done to help women rise to senior leadership positions across the music industry. 

Suzanne: 'Andrea, it’s been another great year for PRS for Music and, on top of that, you won Businesswoman of the Year at Music Week's Women In Music Awards last month. Congratulations! It feels like a good point, then, to pause and have a look back at 2023, and then also look forward to 2024 and the future. 

‘My first question goes back a little bit: can you describe a pivotal moment in your career that influenced your leadership style?' 

Andrea: 'Well, there's two: the first was when I had to manage a person at Reader's Digest in the early '90s. I was really bad [at it], to the point where I had one direct report and she went over and above me to complain about how I was managing people. That was a wake-up call for me!  

‘Then in the late '90s at Reader's Digest, I started getting a little bit better [at it]. At that time we did engagement scores, and that was another wake-up call because my engagement score was 47! My score was higher than the overall company score, which was 45, but it made me think, "Let's do something about it". That's when I started [focusing on leadership], and I took it quite seriously. I drew up action plans, sat down with my team and we went through the whole thing. These were pivotal moments when I realised that it's all about people, and that I had to work on that in my career.' 

S: ‘That's really interesting to hear. Fast-forward to now, what strategies do you use when it comes to effectively communicating as a leader both internally and externally?’ 

A: 'I'm a big, big believer in communication. At PRS we have our monthly town hall meetings Headliners, where we talk about different subjects and there's a Q&A section. I also do a separate Q&A with employees which is a little bit more informal, where people can ask me whatever they want — and they really do! I do take the time to walk around and talk to employees in the office, and I think that's crucial. There's also informal events like our Christmas Gig, as well as [internal] events that we have at the Hub. 

‘[Communication] is especially important when you’re going through a lot of change. During COVID, we constantly talked to all PRS employees every week, and they could ask us whatever they wanted. It's really important to not just talk to your employees, but to listen and ask questions.' 

S: ‘How vital is it to remain authentically yourself as a leader?’ 

A: 'It is important, especially for me. I don't play games [as] I don't feel comfortable with that, so I have to be authentic to who I am. If I’m not, then I don't feel that I'm being true to the employees or myself, and I don't feel comfortable about that. It's important to be authentic. In today's world, authenticity shows that you're vulnerable, you have humility and you're a human being. I think it’s key that our employees see us as an accessible leader. We're accessible: the more accessible I am, the more they talk to me, and the more I learn about what's going on so we can improve the company.' 

S: ‘One of the topics you often speak about is intrapreneurialism. Why is having an intrapreneurial culture at PRS so important, and how do you encourage your teams to think in this way?’ 

A: 'I’ve often worked for old, established companies where I can help transform them: I'm a transformation specialist. With a company like PRS, which is going to be 110 years old next year, it's important that we stay relevant, especially in a digital and tech world which is only becoming more and more digital. That's why, for me, intrapreneurship is important. I call it intrapreneurship because we already have a company: it’s not like being an entrepreneur where you start a company or a start-up. So how can you still bring that innovative start-up mentality to an existing company? Through intrapreneurship. We'll die if we don't change and innovate, and change is just going at a quicker and quicker pace, so it's even more important in today's world.'

'The more accessible I am as a leader, the more our employees talk to me, and the more I learn about what's going on so we can improve the company.'

S: ‘What challenges have you faced as a female leader in the music industry, and how have you overcome them to reach the position you're in today?’ 

A: 'Like they say in the music industry, it's a tough gig, right? It's a tough gig for artists, composers, writers and publishers, but it's also tough for women because it is male-dominated — that has been changing, though, and it hopefully will change [for good]. [Becoming PRS CEO] was a challenge for me: not only was I female and the first female CEO at PRS, but I also wasn't from the music industry, so I didn't have those connections. But I never let that knock me down. I'm a big believer that actions speak louder than words, and by delivering great results, a great culture and a great place to work at PRS, that will overcome all that stigma. I think it has.' 

S: ‘Absolutely. On the topic of the music industry, collaboration is a key component. How do you foster a culture of collaboration and innovation within PRS for Music?’ 

A: 'I'm a big believer of getting people involved. Three months into my position [as CEO] we had a leadership meeting over two days where we talked about our strategy, where we should be going and what our assets were. Strategy has to come from the bottom-up, and not top-down. Everybody has an idea or thoughts about how we can grow the company, and getting people involved a) gets them engaged and b) helps us come up with a better strategy. We do the same thing when we do our engagement action plans, our Diversity and Inclusion programme and our affinity groups. As much as it creates a lot of different communities, at the same time I think getting people engaged in finding new solutions for old problems is really, really important.' 

S: ‘What more can the music industry do to help women enter boardrooms and senior leadership-level positions at major organisations?’ 

A: 'I think that women can help other women. I think we all have to help each other and stand up for our convictions. There are many men in this industry that do want to help women, so go and find those men, get them on board and get them to help. The two Chairs who hired me were male, and they did take the risk to hire me, so there are men that want to help women [in the industry]. We also have to help each other. I'm a big believer of good governance, just like we went through when finding our Chair and the different independent directors [at PRS]. Having that rigorous [process] and making sure we at least put diverse candidates forward, then whoever is the most qualified gets it. But at least we have candidates that are female that have the chance to move forward.  

'One thing that we do at PRS when it comes to succession is look at who the female up-and-coming candidates are among our employees who could move forward. Helping and coaching them [to these positions] is definitely something we can do. I also think it's great that Music Week does something for women in music [with the WIMA], and I think what UK Music are doing with their 10-Point Plan and the 5 Ps is also important, [and we're] making sure that we push that at PRS. We need to stand up for our convictions and make sure that we're not afraid to do so.' 

S: ‘Definitely. Finally, what makes you excited to come to work at PRS every day?’ 

A: 'First of all, I think the purpose of the company is fantastic. It's commercial because we're owned by members, but at the same time it has a great purpose. We have so many composers and writers, and of course publishers that help them, and the purpose of protecting and growing their rights and making sure that they get as much money as possible is so encouraging, because it's tough to be in the music industry.  

‘And then of course the PRS team, who are trying to help composers and writers thrive more and more. This translates to our employees because we're succeeding — who doesn't want to be part of a winning team, right? If we look at last year's results, everybody was proud, and I think this year, even though we still have a couple of weeks to go, we're on a good path. You can feel the buzz of people saying, "Well, we work hard, but we're really doing something that's important for the composers, writers and publishers". We're part of something at PRS that is important to them, but that we're also proud of as well.'