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Top tips on how to grow your publishing business in 2018

Publishing experts share their insight into how to excel in A&R, build partnerships at home and abroad, and ensure you’re bang on the money in terms of admin and royalties.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 22 Feb 2018
  • min read
The Music Publishers Association’s (MPA) next two-part specialist seminar is all about how to take your publishing business to the next level.

Ahead of the first instalment on 6 March, we ask experts from across the industry to share their insight into how to excel in A&R, build partnerships at home and abroad, and ensure you’re bang on the money in terms of admin and royalties.

Here are their top tips for 2018…

Kelly Stone, talent acquisition manager, Warner Music Group
The war for talent is heating up. We don’t just face competition from other music publishers or record labels, there are creative digital and other tech companies also competing for the best talent. So that means that we have to think more creatively and strategically about how we engage with talent.

We’ve got to show the next generation that working for us is mutually beneficial as they learn about the music industry from us and we learn from them about fast changing youth culture.

We’re always looking for the widest possible pool of talent and work with a range of schools, networks and influencers to bring in a spread of people that reflect our diverse society.  We want to recruit the brightest and the best, people who are entrepreneurial and can bring their ideas to the table.

Jane Dyball, chief executive, MPA Group Companies
I think there are two key strands to growing a publishing business. Firstly, the ability to spot and retain talented writers - understanding how to stretch them and persuading others of their talents. However, talent is not enough - you also have to be very lucky.  So, the second strand is to make the most of the luck you have by having a razor sharp admin team with an attention to detail and work ethic that ensures that, when luck comes your way, you collect every penny for your writers and you.

Annette Barrett, managing director, Reservoir/Reverb Music
Surround yourself with good, like-minded people, play to your strengths and don’t be afraid to ask for expert advice.

Make sure you have a strong admin system department in place, as copyright and royalties are key to music publishing

Create your culture for the business and stick with it, as that is a key component as to why you are starting a new business.

Tim Dellow, co-founder, Transgressive Records/Publishing
Partner with someone awesome....
Make sure that you find a system which is going to look after your copyrights and report quickly and fairly to your writers

Follow your gut not the crowd…
A great writer can weather the storms of fashion. Find someone you get on with and can collaborate with over time.

It's a marinade not a sprint…
It often takes a long while for something to come good in the publishing world. Stay loyal to your artists and songwriters, remember why you signed them in the first place (they're geniuses when only you care about them, and just the same when they're really popular), and work really, really hard to keep bringing them opportunities to be heard.

Keep an open mind... but respect the value of your writers
Keep an open mind on syncs, work through quickly what you think might appeal, but don't just join a race to the bottom to discount your writer. Their work is valuable and they deserve to be paid for it!

That being said...
There are a lot of great creatives starting out who need to work with incredible music - be open minded about what deals might be on smaller development projects if you think it's going to help bring a value to your writer over time.

Roberto Neri, managing director, Downtown Music Publishing
It may sound obvious, but hire the best people. Make sure they work together as a strong team and that everyone relates to the culture of the company.

Think and plan for the long view of the company and don’t always take a deal because it’s available.

Make sure you’re technically equipped to handle the future.

All these publishers will be speaking at the upcoming MPA seminars. To learn more, visit the MPA events page.