Paulette Long is a guest panelist at our event on 28 November 2018 YGN X PRS FOR MUSIC PRESENT "Inside Music Publishing" How to start a publishing company and make money from songs. We talked to her about her career.
Paulette Long has worked within the music industry for over 32 years. Beginning her career in PR at Alan Edwards’ Modern Publicity agency where she specialised in regional press for a diverse range of artists. Paulette has enjoyed a varied music industry career working with independent music publishing company Westbury Music Ltd since 1988, running her own management company, Long Term Management and consulting for a variety of independent artists and labels. She has also been a director or trustee of the MPA, PRS for MUSIC, PRS Foundation, Urban Development and Urban Voice amongst other organisations.
You run workshops called Money From Your Song – what's the aim of the workshops?
The aim is to break down very simply how money can be generated from songs, that songs are different from recordings - many people early in their careers don’t really understand the difference between songs and recordings and that each earns a different income, or where the song goes and how money comes back in. I show writers how they could pull together multiple income streams from their songs. I look at an example of how a song could potentially earn £6,000– focusing on where the different portions of income come from. I encourage writers to think about the opportunities that are best suited to their strengths whether that is live, streaming, radio etc and how to use their strengths to generate more income.
For a young person going into publishing, what are the key skills you look for and would want them to develop?
Looking at it from the view point of a small independent company its great to be an all rounder. Someone with good attention to detail on the copyright side is key, able to talk to clients (writers and licensees), very hardworking – and not being phased that your in-tray is never empty of paperwork. Also good A&R skills in terms of developing writers and their creativity, and the ability to be creative themselves about ways of earning income for the writers signed to the company.
Tell me about your background, how did you get into the music industry?
Before I started working in PR I was at college doing a business course. My tutor sang backing vocals with a band called Big Country, so she got me into their management company to do my two weeks work experience. I had no idea about the music industry at that time. After I finished college they offered me a job as office junior, I think it was because I was hardworking and eager. Their company represented many pop / rock bands and none of my college friends really wanted to go and see Ozzy Osbourne or Frank Zappa so I got used to going to gigs on my own. There weren’t many black people at these concerts, I did get some racial verbal abuse, particularly outside of London, but felt that people saying those things were being stupid and I would just brush it off. The management company had a PR arm and it was there I started working in public relations specialising in regional press. I learnt the craft of PR from Alan Edwards and some other fantastic PR’s and gained an understanding of how to take one anecdote an artist had given us and develop it into a story which would grab attention and make headlines.
How did you find out music publishing was even a thing?
The management and PR company I was working for was having a wobbly time, and in the same office building Caroline Robertson had moved in, she was running an independent publishing company called Westbury Music and she asked me to come and do some work for her. I had no idea about music publishing before then. It was a very hands-on job. Back then I was manually filling in forms to register songs in the UK with PRS/MCPS and with other collection societies around the world (SACEM, NCB etc). I must have filled in thousands of these forms and as I did I learnt about writers and their shares, about publishers etc. It was a very manual job. Meanwhile as Caroline would talk on the phone, sorting out disputes with other publishers, negotiating splits etc I would learn a lot listening in the background. I just learnt as I went along.
Westbury Music is a specialist in Reggae, Dance and Drum & Bass – how did that develop?
I’m not certain who the first client was, whether it was Bunny Lee or Niney the Observer maybe, but we worked hard within Reggae to clean up the catalogues, making sure songs were registered to the correct writers with the correct shares, and that income was collected and flowing through to the writers. Our reggae catalogue grew by word of mouth because of our good reputation. Some clients were co-writers with existing clients and found out about us that way, whilst others would see our name printed on records and approach us.
The culture in Jamaica then was often that the songs were usually owned by whomever owned the studio where the songs are recorded, and musicians (often times also the writers) were just paid a fee. We looked after the writers ensuring they claimed their writer share and received money generated on their songs. Our reggae catalogue went from strength to strength.
A similar thing happened for us within the drum and bass and dance arena. We would work with one producer/writer and by word of mouth other producers and labels would also sign to us. We later published a Bollywood Music catalogue, and it's really important to understand the cultural context of the music you are dealing with and how that fits into the framework of international music publishing and collection societies. Anyway, our client list grew through word of mouth within Reggae, and within Dance and D&B as well.
You’ve contributed lots to various boards, the Music Publishers Association, PRS for Music, PRS Foundation, Urban Development, Diversity groups and others. Why has it been important to you to do this?
People say ‘you’ve been in the music industry for so many years and on all these boards, you must really love music’ but I say ‘I really love people’. I have built some great friendships with so many people and assisted hundreds with their careers whether as a publisher, mentor, coach or friend. I've brought about changes that impacted people's lives positively on some of the panels and boards I have been involved with. It's the friendships I have forged and the ability to help creatives fulfill their dreams that is important to me.
Words: Remi Harris
Photo: Courtesy of Paulette Long
For more about Paulette's workshops see: moneyfromyoursong.com/
For more about PRS for Music see: https://www.prsformusic.com/