BMG's Hugo Turquet on helping to boost songwriting productivity during lockdown

BMG's Hugo Turquet on helping to boost songwriting productivity during lockdown

While the immediate impact of the coronavirus has been widespread in the music industry, publishing faces a delayed reaction from income feeding through.

Music Week has spoken to some of the key players about the likely effect on publishing, including the MPA, UMPG and Warner Chappell Music A&R exec Paul Smith, who discusses a potential surge in dance and upbeat pop as a response to the pandemic.

BMG has also been busy, too, including making a big donation of its share in the cover of Foo Fighters’ Times Like These for the Live Lounge All Stars fundraising single.

Here, Hugo Turquet, SVP, A&R publishing, UK, opens up about how the company is managing the global impact of the coronavirus…

How are you supporting your songwriters and composers at this time?

“Ever since this whole thing erupted, we have been in constant touch with our writers. Our myBMG app has come in useful in terms of giving blanket updates to our clients across the board, but obviously there has been a lot of one-on-one contact. Some clients have had financial concerns due to the drying up of other income streams, and we are helping where we can.”

How are you helping in terms of co-writing – are sessions still taking place remotely as much as possible?

“Yes, very much business as usual, albeit from different locations! Lots of remote sessions in the UK and internationally. All the international teams are working closely together to find collaborations and create co-writing sessions. We have all been getting to know how our artists all work differently under these conditions and making new relationships. A lot of acts that sadly have had tours cancelled are now in the studio writing, so it’s been a very productive time for many of our artists.”  

History shows the music industry is very adept at bouncing back from adversity

Hugo Turquet

What steps is the company taking in response to the impact of the lockdown?

“It has been extraordinary the extent the switch to working remotely has been seamless. To a degree, it makes you question why we have offices at all! Globally, BMG has benefited from having an amazing, resilient team doing all the planning, and their success has meant it has been very much business as usual. In terms of streaming, there was clearly an immediate hit in the first two weeks of the lockdown – although year on year numbers were always significantly up – but even the weekly numbers have returned to growth.” 

How has the TV/film and advertising sync market been impacted for publishers? 

“Sync has been the mirror image of streaming. It started the lockdown period very strongly as clients sought to tie up projects that were already in production, but there has been a slowdown since then. The film, TV & advertising industries, with whom we collaborate, have undoubtedly been hit hard by the lockdown restrictions. There will, of course, be a knock-on effect, but it’s heartening that we’re already working on a number of innovative new projects – the production of which will not be affected by the outbreak.”

Will the popularity of TV streaming at this time be good for publishing and sync as services build their subscriber base? 

“We’ve all seen the sector explode over the past few years. The number of sync placements for UK repertoire in these global entertainment properties – many of them originating in the UK, has been overwhelmingly beneficial for our artists.” 

Publishing is not being immediately affected as obviously as live and labels. What do you think the long-term impact will be on the sector? 

“It is too early to talk about long-term impacts, but history shows the music industry is very adept at bouncing back from adversity. Publishing tends to be a resilient business, but we need all sectors of the industry to recover fully, as we all need each other to operate. Most of all, we need to look after our songwriters and artists. Without them we don’t have a business.”

To read the full report on the publishing sector’s response to Covid-19, subscribers can click here. To subscribe and never miss a big industry story, click here.

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