Industry Insider: music publisher Sharon Dean (owner Respect Music Ltd and former PRS Director of Licensing)

February 23, 2012

Industry Insider Sharon Dean

Sharon Dean is the Director of Respect Music Limited, a highly reputed Music Publishing company based in the UK. Sharon also sits on the board for the Association of Independent Music (AIM) and is Executive Director of the National Association of Record Industry Professionals, known as NARIP.

A music publisher is responsible for ensuring the composers in their care, receive payment when their songs are used commercially. A publishing contract ties the songwriter to the publishing company by assigning the copyright of their music to the publisher, and in return, the publishing company helps monitor where their artists’ compositions are used. A publisher licenses the works of songwriters; collects royalty monies; and pays them to the composers. Music Publishers are a valuable link in an artist or songwriters business network and work hard promoting their songwriters’ compositions to recording artists, film and television contacts.

Prior to setting up Respect Music Limited, Sharon was a Director of Licensing at UK Copyright Collection Society, PRS for Music, for 10 years. In the UK, ‘PRS for music’ is the major collection group responsible for the collection and distribution of money on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers; UK group ‘PPL’ in contrast, collects and distributes money on behalf of record companies and performers. As of 2009, PRS has been alligned with MCPS, which is the UK group responsible for collecting mechanical royalties (which are separate from songwriting royalties).

Notable leading performance rights associations outside of the United Kindgom include:
1.United States – ASCAP; BMI; SESAC; Sound Exchange.
2.Canada – SOCAN (formerly PROCAN and CAPAC); CMRRA; SODRAC; SPACQ (Quebec)
3. Mexico – SACM
4. Australia/New Zealand – APRA
5. France – SACEM
6. Japan – JASRAC

Ngawara Madison for Music’s Industry Insider series recently caught up with Sharon to discuss the reality of her “24/7” job, and the qualities she looks out for in young musical entrepreneurs and would-be professionals.

Sharon DeanSharon Dean – Respect Music Ltd

What are your daily responsibilities and job specifics Sharon? Could you run us through a work day?

Sharon: My day usually starts around 8 a.m. I have a mini schnauzer called Lily and we go out walking together! Then I am usually at my desk around 0930 am. As a music  publishing company we have  3 main roles:

1. To exploit our songwriters music,
2. To protect our songwriters music and;
3. To collect royalties due.

We have  a team of people taking care of song registrations worldwide and dealing with the royalty accounting process. This is definitely  a 24/7 role rather than a “9 to 5”! We work with music  supervisors worldwide and if they are looking for a clearance we need to be there! LA opens around 6pm my time and the skype calls go can well in to the night! We also have songwriters based in the US so we have to be available for them too…  My day is mainly spent pitching for sync*; meeting other Publishers, Labels, and Managers to discuss possible co- writes for my writers.

*Synchronisation refers to getting music on soundtracks to films, games, TV; Sync is absolutely vital in the current market as big money is no longer made in record sales…

What is your work background? How would you advise those aspiring to work in a field like yours as far as school and general ‘groundwork’ is concerned?

Well my background is a little unusual! I went to my first gig when I was seven years old, and spent most of my time when I was growing up, singing songs to myself and being in awe of the people in the “brackets” – the songwriters. I spent a number of years at VISA in a Senior Business Development role based in London but spent a lot of time in Moscow and Eastern Europe developing payment systems!

That sounds like a world away from music – no? How did that relate?

It was a bit like the ‘Wild West’ at times – which was great preparation for this business of music!

What business or career advice would you impart on a younger version of yourself?

The best advice I can give is:

“Go out there and get your hands dirty! Sitting in a  class room is a waste of time  – just get out there, be nice, be hungry, believe and network, network, network!”

You previously held an executive position with PRS for 10 years; Could you  explain what it is that PRS does within the Music Industry, and what your role  [Director of Licensing] entailed?

PRS for Music exists to collect and pay royalties to it’s membership of songwriters, composers and publishers; when their music is exploited in one of a number of ways; when it is recorded onto any format and distributed to the public; when it is performed or played in public; broadcast or made publicly available online… I was there.

A lot of talk these days is about the economic downturn that has descended upon all aspects of the music industry. Is multitasking and managing multiple jobs a “given” in this day and age?

Sharon: Yes, multitasking and managing multiple jobs/projects in this business is essential! I think that has always been the case and I don’t like blaming the economic downturn or the onset of the digital  age for the need to work this way. This business of music is a competitive and hard game so determination is a key driver for success! Don’t put too many of your fingers in the pie or it will go soggy, though! Do what you do well, but at the same time keep thinking, learning and always be an innovator!

Which artists are your main charges currently? How do you promote and aid these artists in their careers?

A snapshot of who we are currently representing  is:

1. Chris Elliott, Composer and Arranger (Moulin Rouge, Amy Winehouse, David Gray, Rufus Wainwright);

Goran Kay
Goran Kay – managed by Sharon Dean/Respect Music Ltd

2. Biggi Hilmars, Composer( Nokia, IKEA, Chevrolet, Ridley Scott’s Life In A Day);

3. Goran Kay, who is an artist and songwriter; and

4. Nell Bryden, an artist and songwriter.

Each composer/writer is different so the way that we represent them differs too. We pitch for sync in TV, Film, Trailers, Ads, song placement, musical director roles, live gigs, press inclusion, etc. The role goes ever on…

If you were looking at taking an intern on for your company, what attributes or traits would you be looking out for in a protegee?

I would want proof that they really wanted to get into this industry. Do they manage a band or artist? Do they write a blog? Are they out there scouting? Are they networking, etc? They need to be outgoing, loyal, and have an ear to the musical ground!

What was the most valuable piece of advice that you were given, which has seen you through some of the harder times in this industry?

Stay focused, be nice and remember that without the songwriter we are all nothing.

 © Ngawara Madison, Music Vice

Internet links:
Respect Music Limited

Goran Kay Music
Biggi Hilmars sync with Life In A Day:

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