What began as an indie publisher seeking advice about the Nashville market from a couple of manager friends has turned into a first-of-its-kind publishing partnership. Two competing artist management companies, Red Light Management and Vector Management, have joined forces with indie publisher Chrysalis Music to form Crossfire3, a three-way partnership based in Nashville.

The stature of the executives running these companies, the built-in network of artists and songwriters represented by the partners and the access they will have to each other's companies add up to an unprecedented publishing venture.
The players calling the shots for Crossfire3 are Chrysalis CEO Jeremy Lascelles and U.S. president Kenny MacPherson; Red Light partners Will Botwin, Coran Capshaw and John Grady; and Vector co-presidents Ken Levitan and Jack Rovner (see story, this page).

"We're trying to cross-pollinate across the artist rosters," Grady says. "Between the companies' rosters, we have more artists than a lot of medium-sized record companies."

While Crossfire3 will operate independently from Chrysalis, Red Light and Vector, the publishing company will draw upon all of the partners' experience, expertise and relationships. This means a strong synergy that could help the fledgling publisher place more songs with artists and open the door to countless symbiotic relationships for touring, synch licensing, branding and promotional opportunities.

"Everybody is throwing out ideas, and everybody has a different Rolodex, if you will," Rovner says.

By most experts' estimates, Chrysalis is one of the top two independent publishers in the world. After taking the reins of the North American operations at the end of 2002, MacPherson took a "low-profile, sleepy company and turned it into a real creative hub," Lascelles says. In January, Billboard named Chrysalis-with writers like Johnta Austin, Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton, Dan Wilson and Ray LaMontagne-among the top four indie publishers to watch in 2007. Its net publishers' share (i.e., the revenue it retains after paying writers and other rightholders) grew by 5.2% in 2006 to reach £11.3 million ($22 million).

Red Light's management roster ranges from Dave Matthews Band to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to Alanis Morissette. Botwin also serves as president/CEO for sister label ATO Records. Vector's management roster includes Bon Jovi, Lyle Lovett, Kid Rock and Damien Rice. In addition to their label, Vector Recordings, Levitan and Rovner have a production company that recently optioned a novel for a film project.

"What's really exciting are the resources we have as a combined unit and the opportunities songwriters will have to plug into a lot of the writers and artists that will hopefully lead to quicker cuts and quicker turnarounds," Levitan says. "We'll work with the careers of songwriters in the same way we work with the careers of artists to help them grow as writers."

MacPherson says the idea for the company began when he was exploring ways for Chrysalis to re-enter the Nashville market. The company made a failed attempt to establish a Nashville presence several years ago, before he joined the London-based publisher. MacPherson says he wants to be there because he loves songwriters, he loves the way they work there and he believes there is great talent in the South.

"For a company of our size to go down and just open an office in Nashville and compete with all the people there already was slightly daunting and could be cost-prohibitive," MacPherson says. Since he's known the principals of Red Light and Vector for years-and since Grady and Levitan live in Nashville-he asked them for advice.

"Then it just came to me," he says. "I love these guys, I trust these guys. Why don't I see if there's a way that we could all do business together?"
The Red Light partners had always planned to open a publishing company at some point, Botwin and Grady say. Even though all the executives agree that the management companies could have made deals with many publishers, they say that Chrysalis has the personality, character and tradition that fits with their dynamic.

"It was just a natural fit to work with [Chrysalis] rather than some of the big, corporate teams," Botwin says. "We've been on those ocean liners. It's a nice, smooth ride, but we like a few bumps and turns in the road."

Each company partner funds Crossfire3 and shares equally in the results, MacPherson says. To run the Nashville office, the partners called on Steve Markland who had run Windswept Holdings' Nashville office.

The office is now set up in Hillsboro Village near Music Row and signings have begun. Even though Crossfire3 is based in the country music capital, the publisher will be signing songwriters and artists from all genres of music.
The first signing demonstrates the synergy of the group. Grady was passionate about signing songwriter/artist Kim Richey. With her album coming out in Europe, the group placed her as an opening act for the European tour of John Hiatt, whom Vector manages.

Chrysalis, Red Light and Vector will continue their separate operations.
"We've worked together and we've competed with each other with respect-and still do with management clients," Botwin says of Vector. "In a way, it makes for a more interesting dynamic and energy level."

The writers don't have to be signed to one of the management companies to sign with Crossfire3, and the managers will still set up deals for their artists with other publishers when it's in the best interests of an individual artist. Chrysalis will also continue signing songwriters directly to its publishing operation.

"There is no rule book for this," MacPherson says. "We all have lawyers who put our agreement together. They asked, 'How do you decide what to bring to the new company and what not to bring?' There's no way a lawyer can define that. We will know instinctually the right project for Crossfire3, the right act to sign [somewhere else], or someone will say, 'I was looking at this act a year ago, and I'm not going to put this act through Crossfire3.' We all trust each other."

Despite some media reports that claim Chrysalis will be up for sale this year, this venture suggests that the publisher is forging ahead.

"We can't control what people want to say about us, irritating though they may be," Lascelles says. "People who care to look a little more closely at things that we do and ventures we undertake should draw a much better and more accurate conclusion as to what our plans are."