The publishing exec on how global expansion and a dedicated local touch can get songwriters paid and the business back on track
Port Washington, N.Y., native Justin Kalifowitz, 35, thinks both big and small. Since Downtown Music Publishing was founded in 2007, the company has made deals for the songwriting catalogs of Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco and Niall Horan; served as administrator for independents like Big Yellow Dog and the John Lennon and Yoko Ono catalogs; and expanded to Los Angeles, London, Nashville, Amsterdam and, in February, Tokyo.
But Downtown, based in Manhattan, remains dedicated to its indie roots. In 2011, Kalifowitz built Songtrust, an online platform that allows indie songwriters -- essentially anyone -- to register their compositions and collect royalties worldwide. While Downtown manages 100,000 songs, Songtrust administers 1.3 million, and the company reports collections were up 90 percent in 2016.
Kalifowitz has also been working on NY is Music, the advocacy coalition he co-founded in 2014 that helped the NYC Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment commissioner Julie Menin organize the inaugural New York Music Month, a city-sponsored event this June that includes concerts, conferences and initiatives like 2,000 hours of free rehearsal space. With the city's monthlong celebration under way, Kalifowitz speaks about overseas growth, indie songwriters and New York's music economy.