Why I’ve Joined Songtrust — Medium
In 1992, my band Bratmobile went to the U.K. for our first tour overseas. This tour was three weeks long! I still laugh thinking about that, who tours the U.K. for three weeks anymore? Did anyone then? Besides having the chance to play with some of the best bands in punk history like Huggy Bear, Heavenly, Blood Sausage, and Comet Gain, we were surprised when after every show we were asked by the venues to turn in our setlists. This had never happened in the U.S. before — and barring perhaps one small festival show at the Greek Theater in Berkeley — never did again. Our touring mates Heavenly explained there were royalties paid by the venues to the local collection agency, PRS, and at some point in the future we would receive them if we reported our songs properly. While still in the U.K., when we were asked to record a Peel Session, we realized it was even more important we look into these royalties, but we really had no clue how. Like many bands of our time, business matters were not the focus of our creative work. We wanted to make up songs, play them, record them, release them…but we didn’t have a manager, a lawyer or really any simple structure with which to organize ourselves and check off the necessary steps we needed to take in the early days to make sure we were handling things properly.
Somehow we were connected with a perfectly nice person at PRS, and made an appointment to go visit their offices to discuss how to register ourselves to collect the royalties we were generating. Isn’t that quaint? How lucky were we? We were informed it likely made more sense to register with one of the royalty societies in our own country where PRS had a reciprocal arrangement to collect and distribute royalties and someday, someway, we’d get the pennies we were earning. It seemed reasonable, we had heard of ASCAP and BMI and set out to do just that when we returned home.
This scenario is still all too common for artists writing their own music today, and the royalties landscape is now more complex and confusing than ever. Besides the performance royalties earned via the radio, in bars and restaurants, and for live performances collected by the performance rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and the other international equivalents, there are royalties generated through the streaming services, web and satellite radio, and more. For most songwriters early in their career, the business landscape is absolutely prohibitive to being able to access and collect the money they are due.
With all this in mind and after two incredible years as Head of Music at Kickstarter, I am so excited to be joining the Songtrust team as the first Global Head of Business Development. Songtrust was built to solve these challenges for songwriters, publishers and other rightsholders. I’ll be leading Marketing, Sales, and Business Development. No other opportunity has felt like more of a perfect next step for me to continue to advocate and offer support to songwriters, artists, and independent music companies. Songtrust has built the best-in-class platform to offer songwriters, bands, managers, independent labels, and publishing companies and nearly every other stakeholder in the music industry a chance to access what they are owed in the complicated publishing landscape. I’m thrilled to join co-founders Justin Kalifowitz and Joe Conyers III on the leadership team and work with them to grow the already fantastic team they have assembled. (BTW: We are hiring!)
Songtrust is the world’s largest global royalty collection service and publishing administrator, enabling over 100,000 songwriters and 15,000 publishers to collect their publishing royalties worldwide for over 1,000,000 copyrights. We maintain direct relationships with 40+ performance, mechanical, and digital societies globally covering 120+ territories — the most extensive, accessible publishing network in the industry. This allows clients to maximize their revenues while retaining 100% ownership of their repertoire. As a technology-first platform, Songtrust’s elegant experience removes the complexity of the publishing landscape and offers detailed access to data otherwise not directly available.
My career journey has twisted and turned a number of ways over the years but I’ve always remained connected to the mission of removing barriers to entry for all creators — from every gender, genre and geographical region — and I’m so very excited about the opportunity to take this passion to Songtrust. Check out where we are, there’s a lot to do to spread the word about what we offer and I’m excited to get started!