The SESAC sponsored "Breaking & Entering" Nov. 30 at Billboard's eighth annual R&B/Hip-Hop Conference was hosted by Gail Mitchell and featured an all-female panel, including entertainment lawyers Denise Brown and Omara Harris, Nicole Sellers (J Records' senior national director of urban promotions), Sheila Eldridge (senior VP/partner of Perry Broadcasting) and SESAC's coordinator of W/P relations, Peniece LeGall.

Among many topics, the panelists discussed the challenges they've faced as females in a male-dominated industry and offered advice to woman hoping to break into the business.

"Appearance and how you carry yourself is very important," stated Sellers among other details she feels women should consider. "At the end of the day it is about business. Handle your business first - that goes beyond color and gender."

"What do you want to be perceived as? You have to ask yourself that question. You have to amass a certain deal of credibility for yourself," added Brown.

The panel concluded with the ladies stating what their individual definition of success is, with happiness, living your passion and growing being recurrent themes.

The final panel was titled "ASCAP Presents...The Ear Behind the Music" and featured EMI Publishing’s president of West Coast creative Big Jon Platt, who was interviewed by singer/songwriter Johnta Austin.

"My passion is signing unknown writers," said Platt during the one-hour, in depth interview. "I believe in them early. We have a relationship before they even become super stars."

Some of the songwriters Platt has signed to EMI include Jay-Z, Kanye West, usher, Beyonce, Fabolous, Rich Harrison, Chrisette Michele, Warren Campbell, M-16, Pharrell and Jermaine Dupri among many others.

Platt got his start in music as a DJ in his native Denver, Colorado, and at the suggestion of long-time friend, rapper Chuck D, began a management company years ago. He began his relationship with EMI when he landed a publishing deal with them for a producer he managed at the time. He was eventually offered a job in 1995.

Platt also stated how he places bets, figuratively speaking, on writers and not on the music. "I ask myself, 'is the music good? Can they continue to write good music?' I don't bet on projects 'cause projects can fail," he said.

When asked if he thinks the role of the songwriter will one day become extinct considering more artists write these days, Platt said assertively, "the writer is the machine behind the car. The car can look sexy, but the engine is what makes it run. Without songwriters there will be just silence."

Southern music, artists becoming brands and the different types of publishing deals were among the other subjects touched on.

The conference was capped off with a celebration at Atlanta's Dreamz nightclub, where legendary singer Stephanie Mills and rap group Salt-N-Pepa were honored with the R&B and Hip-Hop Founder Awards, respectively.