For nine months, Andrea C Martin has kept her head down. The new CEO of performance rights organisation PRS For Music is something of an unknown quantity to the music business, having come from outside the industry, via senior roles at Reader’s Digest, Royal Mail and ADT.
She’s spent the time since taking over from Robert Ashcroft learning about PRS’ business, making some personnel changes – bringing in the likes of Suzanne Hughes, Roger James and Mark Krajewski – and working out her strategy for a business that had royalty income of £746 million in 2018.
And now she’s ready to talk about it via this week’s exclusive Music Week cover story, available now. Even in a time dominated by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, her thoughts are essential reading for her 140,000 songwriter, composer and publisher members, as well as the wider music business.
Martin has a full in tray, with DSP deals, the government's indication it will not implement the European Copyright Directive and songwriters’ rights all on her agenda. But first, in an interview conducted before the Covid-19 outbreak, she’s determined to change the society itself… Read on to find out how.
What will the new PRS deliver than the old one didn’t?
“First of all, big data. Having better data and leveraging it to run the company more efficiently and provide better services. Quicker, more transparent distributions. One of the advantages we have as a PRO is the membership experience. People do trust us. We are independent from what’s out there in the music industry. And that is our unique selling proposition; that trust, that independence. So we have to do even better in big data, we have to be more commercial in negotiations. We have to be more efficient to run the company so as much money goes back to our members as possible.”
So what’s the biggest challenge you’re going to face?
“The biggest challenge is competition, there’s more and more of it. There’s even competition with PROs in the US taking our members. But I like challenges. When you look at my background, I always took on a lot of challenges.”
We have to be more than the No.1 collective management organisation in the world
Andrea C Martin
How will you deal with that competition?
“We have to be more than the No.1 CMO in the world. We have to provide a great membership experience, we need to provide technology and give them services that they could make more money from. Leverage our international strength. That is a huge advantage that not all PROs have.”
You’re PRS’ first female boss. How do you feel about PRS’ proportion of female members?
“Overall, we have about 17% of our members that are female. It is too low. But when we break it down below 30, we’re 50/50. So the up-and-coming next generation is a good mix but overall it’s not strong enough so we have to work on that. We need a combination of more women and different cultures, it’s really important to encourage them. And we need more women on our board.”
Where will you want PRS For Music to be by the time you leave?
“I want it to be a billion pound business, strong internationally as well as in the UK and Europe. I want it to be a company that is very tech-savvy, leveraging our partnerships, especially [pan-European licensing JV with GEMA and STIM] ICE – that’s going to be really important for us. I view ICE as a technology platform where we could have different hubs around the world that pay our members as quickly as possible. I want our data to be really working for them to provide new services.”
* To read the full, exclusive interview with Andrea C Martin, see the new print edition of Music Week, available now, or click here. To read our 2019 feature with her predecessor, Robert Ashcroft, click here. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.