Downtown ups Emily Stephenson to president of publishing, Mike Smith exits

Downtown ups Emily Stephenson to president of publishing, Mike Smith exits

Downtown Music has promoted Emily Stephenson to president, publishing.

Alongside the news of her appointment, the company has confirmed that Mike Smith is departing Downtown after nearly three years as global president of Downtown Music Services. 

Nashville-based Stephenson most recently served as the division’s VP of business operations. During her 10-year tenure at the company, she has been responsible for all aspects of publishing administration and client services for Downtown’s songwriter and publishing clients, including Ryan Tedder, Big Yellow Dog, and the John Lennon Estate. 

In her new role, Stephenson will report to Downtown Music president, Pieter van Rijn and oversee all publishing efforts, including client acquisition and business development, A&R, rights management and client services for the group's publishing companies - Downtown Music Publishing, Songtrust, and Sheer. Downtown’s publishing administration services currently have nearly two million songwriters and more than 1.5 million copyrights under management.

A highly regarded music industry veteran with a career spanning four decades, Mike Smith is leaving the company to pursue several personal projects and to focus on his ongoing charitable work, which includes board positions with Teenage Cancer Trust, EarthPercent, In Place of War and The Creative Society.

Since joining the company in 2020, Smith oversaw the move away from traditional music publishing models towards a services-based approach. He was also responsible for integrating global digital distribution specialists DashGo into Downtown Music Services. 

Artist signings during his tenure included: Masego, Anohni, Bashy and Magic Sticks alongside C Tangana’s publishing company Yelo. He also oversaw catalogue agreements with high-profile artists including French band Air, and instigated the recently announced administration and funding of Alternative Songs, a joint venture between Stellar Songs and Various Artists.

Mike Smith said: “It has been my pleasure and privilege to lead Downtown Music Services through a significant period of restructuring and realignment that has seen it become a global leader in artist services. I have been very fortunate during my time at the company to work with a team of highly passionate, creative and artist-focused people and with many inspiring artists, labels and music publishers.

“I look back on our many achievements during the last three years with pride. After nearly 40 years at the coal face of the UK music industry, I have decided to take some time away from the day-to-day business of music to refocus my energies into a number of personal, creative projects and to devote more of my time to the charitable work that is so close to my heart. “

Mike stewarded Downtown Music Services through a period of great change and leaves it as a global leader

Pieter van Rijn

Emily Stephenson, president  of Downtown Music Publishing, said: “Thanks to Mike’s fantastic leadership over the past three years, Downtown’s publishing divisions are in a great position to align our efforts and maximise revenue for our clients, whether they use Downtown Music Publishing, Songtrust or Sheer. This unified approach means that Downtown can offer the industry’s leading publishing services both at scale and in-depth, working more closely with our current and future clients at every stage.”

Under Stephenson’s leadership, the company said Downtown Publishing will create an aligned offering that shares technology and expertise.  

Downtown noted that Songtrust reached the milestone of having distributed over $100m in royalties to independent songwriters, producers and creators last year. 

In recent months, Downtown has made a series of high-profile signings including The National, whose upcoming ninth studio album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein, is due to be released on April 28. Alison Goldfrapp has also signed with the company.

Stephenson will be joined by Jedd Katrancha, who after 16 years at Downtown is promoted to chief commercial officer, publishing. New York-based Katrancha joined Downtown Music Publishing in 2007, the first hire to be made by founder, Justin Kalifowitz, and subsequently led the company’s creative services and sync licensing business from its inception. 

In his new role, Katrancha will report to Stephenson and oversee business development, A&R and sync for Downtown’s group of publishing companies.

Pieter van Rijn, president of Downtown Music, said: “Emily is a proven leader and Downtown Publishing is in excellent hands. Mike stewarded Downtown Music Services through a period of great change and leaves it as a global leader. Now, with Downtown’s publishing companies aligned, we’ve created a powerful service offering that will maximise client revenue and present new opportunities to Downtown’s client base.”


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