The Music Managers Forum (MMF) has published a new report exploring the opportunities and challenges facing managers who specialise in overseeing the careers of songwriters, composers and music producers.
The new Producer & Songwriter Manager Edition of the MMF’s Managing Expectations report calls on industry partners to better recognise and support their work, and for all labels and publishers to sign up to the government’s Prompt Payment Code.
Based on research and interviews with key writer/producer managers, including Chris Grey (Problem Child), Hannah Joseph (Decibelle Management), Harry S Knyt (Milk & Honey), Jay Mistry (JMC Music Services), Jill Hollywood (Echo Beach Talent), Jordan Jay (Karma Artists), Paul Kennedy (1 2 One), Will Blake (Sound Collective), Will Gresford (TripTik Management) and Zita McHugh (Z Management), the report acts as a follow up to the MMF’s 2019 publication Managing Expectations.
It comes at a time of intense focus around this specific sector of the business, including ongoing debates around streaming revenue splits for songwriters, the rise of new publishing companies, and the growing recognition by financial markets of the value of song catalogues. Media buy-outs of songs are also a concern for the sector.
The new survey results show a sharp increase in MMF respondents managing at least one songwriter (62%, up from 42% in 2019) and at least one producer (40%, up from 33% in 2019). Pop and rap, which dominate streaming, are increasingly collaborative when it comes to songwriting and production.
Increasingly, these managers are operating as investors and talent developers of songwriters and producers.
The report concludes with four key recommendations:
• For the MMF to further support the diversification of skills development for songwriter/producer management, and increase advocacy for their contribution.?
• For industry partners (especially labels and music publishers) to sign up to the government’s Prompt Payment Code aimed at supporting the sustainability of small businesses and freelancers ?
• For wider support of streaming market reforms - including an overhaul of black box/unallocated distributions and to dismantle royalty chains that diminish songwriter and producer payments?
• To work with members of the Council of Music Makers to promote greater business sustainability, especially around issues of wealth management, financial planning and pensions. ?
Annabella Coldrick (pictured), chief executive, Music Managers Forum, said: “After publishing our landmark Managing Expectations report in 2019, the MMF felt the work of specialist writer and producer managers was deserving of some specific and additional focus. These individuals are absolutely crucial to the smooth running of the streaming economy, and yet there’s a real lack of understanding about what they actually do.
“We hope this report helps demystify their role, and also raise important recommendations to better sustain and support their businesses. At the very least, we’d love every UK label and publisher to sign up to the government’s Prompt Payment Code and ensure they’re paid on time!”
It’s obvious to everyone that songwriters, artists and producers are responsible for the success of every aspect of the music business
Sandy Dworniak, founder of This Much Talent, said: “Managing Expectations highlights the role of producers, writers and their managers as a vital and valuable part of the creative process. Their contribution has been quite seriously overlooked and undervalued, for some time. Respectful and prompt payments and streamlined royalty-chains are the changes the MMF hopes to implement with this report.”
Merck Mercuriadis, founder of Hipgnosis Songs, said: “It’s obvious to everyone that songwriters, artists and producers are responsible for the success of every aspect of the music business yet their role is not recognised in the way they are remunerated and the lowly place they sit in the economic equation. Those closest to them are their managers that are fighting their corner 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This is important work by the MMF on behalf of those who matter the most. The songwriters, artists and producers.”
Jordan Jay, director of Karma Artists Music Group, winners of the 2021 Artist & Manager Award for Writer/Producer Manager, also welcomed the report.
“The MMF’s Managing Expectations report raises some incredibly important recommendations that we as a company welcome wholeheartedly. For many writer/producer managers, it's incredibly frustrating how often payments for our clients are delayed for considerable time, and how simple accounting procedures are frequently not present. There’s also a lack of transparency or clear information within royalty statements.
“Ultimately, without songwriters and producers there is simply no music business. I really hope that the great work the MMF are doing is taken notice of and reform can happen so we are able to give creatives the sustainable career they deserve, as well as showing developing songwriters and producers that it is possible to make a living for themselves in the music business.”