Warner/Chappell have announced two new signings as UK managing director Mike Smith continues to reshape the publishing company.
Katy B – real name Kathleen Brien – has a successful artist career, having made three albums, including 2011 debut On A Mission (Columbia), which has sold 221,536 copies, according to the Official Charts Company. She’s currently signed to Virgin EMI for records, but Smith also sees a bright future for her as a writer for other people.
“She’s an amazing topliner,” Smith told Music Week in an exclusive interview. “It’s very much about developing her as a topline writer and also as an artist. I signed her when I was at Columbia and she’s made amazing records – it’s not often you get a debut single that ends up Ivor Novello nominated, which Katy On A Mission was. She’s always encapsulated what it is to be a young woman in Britain making music and she’s got so much to offer as a writer, as well as as an artist.”
Smith has also snapped up the “latter half” of ex-XTC frontman Partridge’s catalogue and will publish him as a writer going forward.
“I used to look after him at EMI Publishing and I used him on a few projects at Columbia,” said Smith. “I’ve been a fan of Andy since I was a teenager so it’s incredibly joyous to be able to get together with him again now. I was lucky enough at Virgin to have worked with several of my heroes and I’m looking forward to working with Andy now.”
As well as XTC’s seminal new wave work, Partridge has collaborated with the likes of Jamie Cullum, Stephen Duffy, Charlotte Hatherley and Miles Kane.
The deals come as Smith continues on his mission to take Warner/Chappell back to the top of the UK music publishing tree. Previous MD Richard Manners left in April 2016 and Smith came in in November last year. CEO Jon Platt has turned the company around in the US and Smith is now looking to do something similar in the UK.
“That’s what I’ve been brought in to do,” he said. “And I think that we are doing that already. We’ve had an amazing run with Rag’N’Bone Man, Stormzy. We’ve got a great run of releases this year, Gorillaz, Royal Blood. What I’ve learned from Jon Platt and his team in America is, he’s signing great writers, but working those writers really hard. You don’t have to sign 100 writers to increase your market share. If you sign 10 great writers and get terrific results, then you’ll increase your market share.”
For the full Big Interview with Smith, see this week’s special Songwriting Issue of Music Week, on sale now.