The impact of technology and the digital age of the recorded music industry has been widely documented. One result is that more and more labels have opened up publishing divisions, both to help provide a better service to their artists and ensure their own revenues. It also makes growing the publishing roster easier. At the same time, more writers are looking for publishers. So, how do Publishers find new talent?
We asked a few Publishers from various different sized companies on how they go about finding talent. As you would expect, there are a number of common tools.
Nowadays, demos tend to be online links rather than CDs. Whilst every publisher says they listen to all submissions in the hopes of finding a gem, the success rate is unanimously low, regardless of company size.
2. Online Platforms
Soundcloud, Facebook, YouTube and similar – trawling through these sites is laborious so number of plays is a big part of attracting attention from the larger publishers. Whilst metrics are also important for smaller ones, they tend to be perhaps as interested in personally liking lesser played work.
This is more important for niche publishers, though equally valid for more general companies.
This is from talent on the roster as well as lawyers, managers and labels. The value of a trusted opinion is not to be underestimated.
In some cases and with some publishers the A&R team attempt to find writers to help them pitch to a certain brief.
What some Publishers had to say:
“As well as the traditional methods, we focus a lot of energy on writing camps centred on briefs. These take place in various places often with partners. Our next one is in collaboration with Tileyard Studios in London and will have 60 writers taking part. Equal splits are agreed before entering the studio, to. We also get a lot of submissions from songwriting masterclasses that we hold in various places.” (John Saunderson, Head of A&R, Notting Hill Music)
“Facebook and Youtube are the most-used discovery tools, followed by Soundcloud. We only ever distribute briefs to our own roster. We are focussed on our own writers. Recommendations are also very important. We often get tips from A&Rs at Labels with their own publishing arms, because they like our work. We take this as a compliment.” (Jens-Markus Wegener, Managing Director, Imagem Music)
“Demos have dwindling success rates but recommendations, especially for writers already on our roster, are a valuable way of finding new writers. In fact we have had good success in just this way recently. One of our writers, I am Willow, suggested Jay Scott to us. We have placed a number of cuts for him including the title song for Auryn’s number 1 album in Spain, called Ghost Town. We focus a lot on co-writes and this track in particular was written at a writing camp.” (Kiern Pettican, A&R Co-Ordinator at Fairwood Music International, whose roster includes LA Reid).
“We publish 90% of the label’s repertoire, so that forms a big part of our acquisitions. Beyond that we publish a number of writers who we don’t release, for example techno producer Kamikaze Space Programme. Our publishing intake can be brief driven depending on our roster. Aside from that, we often use Soundcloud and other similar platforms or look for exciting and interesting talent.” (Sam Birkwood, Head of Publishing at Songs In The Key of Knife).
“I started growing the company as a result of a conversation. A film-maker came to me for advice on setting up a publishing company for his soundtrack and ended up signing the soundtrack to his film to Buzz-erk. We’re doing something similar for a song that we produced. The artist hired me as a producer and then wanted us to look after the publishing and release too. Familiarity and trust goes a long way.” (Niraj Chag, Composer and Publisher at Buzz-erk Publishing).
“We tend to find new writers through blogs and Soundcloud tastemakers. We found Welsh band Trwbador via Soundcloud and have had some good sync placements for them. We often attend gigs too.” (Tom Prové, General Manager at Touch Tones Music, whose cuts have included Groove Armada and Joss Stone).