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Lance Freed Returns to Publishing as President of Avex International Publishing Group: Exclusive

Lance Freed
Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Lance Freed attends the Songwriters Hall of Fame 43rd Annual induction and awards at The New York Marriott Marquis on June 14, 2012 in New York City. 

Respected music publishing veteran Lance Freed has been named president of Avex International Publishing Group. 

The Los Angeles-based division of Japanese music, film and entertainment company Avex Group falls under the North American subsidiary Avex launched in 2016 by CEO Richard Blackstone. Freed will concentrate on signing writers in North America as well as Europe. 

The move returns the well-regarded Freed to the publishing business. Freed, former president of Rondor Music International— a publishing company started by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss that was later acquired by Universal Music  Group—left Rondor in 2016, a company he led since 1980.

Blackstone approached Freed shortly after he started the North American division about running a new publishing company. “He said, ‘I want you to do what you’ve been doing all your life’,” Freed tells Billboard. Freed was preparing to leave Rondor and wanted some time to “reboot,” he says, but late last year, told Blackstone he was ready to re-enter the industry. 

For the last few weeks, Freed has been flying under the radar, putting everything in place before starting to sign writers. Now he and Blackstone have moved onto their “creative track,” Freed says. “”We went to establish a quality group of songwriters. We want to keep it small, keep it tight, and manageable enough that whomever we sign, we can make a promise and work hard and do our best to create income for them.”  Avex is looking to sign both individual songwriters and purchase catalogs. 

The North American launch occurs as competition for catalogs is fierce, with many deep-pocketed independent publishing companies ratcheting up the purchase price to multiples of 10 to 15 times net publishing share.

Freed remains undaunted by the crowded field. “It’s a great time to start a music publishing company in the U.S. because there’s a lane that’s wide open that needs to be filled,” Freed says. “That lane is all about focusing on songwriters and their songs and not just about the return on investment.” 

In addition to the Los Angeles hub, the publishing division will also have a presence in Avex Group’s North American headquarters in New York, as well as in Nashville. Freed expects to announce an alliance with a Nashville publisher shortly, as well as some significant signings.

As word has begun to trickle out, songwriters are already contacting Freed about signing with the company. “Some of them are saying, ‘I don’t want an advance, I just want to come over there. ..There’s one constant that’s always been part of music publishing and that’s a great song — a great melody, great lyric lead to great opportunities.”


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