While the industry is grappling with a litany of challenges, it's not surprising that music publishers flocked to the new initiatives panel at MIDEM's publishing summit Tuesday morning (Jan. 26). Among the woes publishers are facing: mechanical revenues are under attack due to declining CD sales, performance royalties are for the first time showing softness and synch licensing rates under pressure due to intense competition for song placement.

Sometimes innovation comes in the form of building a market where one didn't exist before. That's what Fairwood Music did in 2008 when it decided to open up shop in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) in a region of the world where piracy was the vehicle dominating music transactions.

"We are probably one of the only publishers in the world that operates in a territory where there is no performance rights society there," Hussain "Spek" Yoosuf, MD of Fairwood/BKPMusic said. But the publishing firm was drawn to the area because it saw that a lot of the big advertising companies had located offices there. Also, the U.A.E wanted foreign investment so they updated copyright laws. Piracy now accounts for about 5%-7% of the market's revenue, Yoosuf reported. "So their thinking is right and their attitude is right, and advertising revenue there is growing by double digit, year-on-year, which is higher than most places around the world," he said. "So the potential is there, but there is no infrastructure and nobody wanted to go there to tame the beast, so to speak."

Enter Fairwood-which attracted indie publishers like Cherry Lane and Stage Three as well as majors like Universal Music Publishing Group and EMI Music Publishing for sub-publishing representation in the market-began by creating an a-z book of copyright for music users operating in U.A.E.

Initially, Fairwood was forceful on infringement, explaining to people that they had to pay to use music in commercials.

Through the combination of being forceful and education, the firm has subsequently landed a lot of six-figure sync deals. "Three years ago [users] didn't pay nothing for the use of music in commercials and now we have done deals where the user is paying $100,000," Yoosuf said.

Patrick Curley, founding partner and VP of business affairs at Third Side Music, said that one way his company takes an unusual approach is to concentrate on synch licensing in a way where individual songs may be licensed for as little as $500, but that is done in conjunction with licensing other songs in a bulk synchronization deal that could yield about $20,000 in revenue.

In fact, Curley said Third Side is sync focused with two-thirds of the company's revenue comes from that form of licensing, adding that mechanical and performance royalties are considered gravy. Another unusual aspect about the company's business is that it will try to cut sync deals for music that hasn't been released, which Curley calls "mining the hard drives" of the company's songwriters.

Imagem gets ahead by applying lessons learned from placing production music in TV shows and movies, according to Imagem Music U.K. CEO John Minch. "The production side is an area that tries to make the clearance of music as easy and quick as possible for the customer," he said. "It seemed like in our core catalog, we did quite the opposite and made it about as difficult and slow as it could possibly be.

So the firm shifted its staff to the mindset to the production music approach for its core catalog, too. Imagem also tries to superserve the customer in that it will offer to help users with whatever kind of music it needs, regardless of whether it comes from its own catalog, acting like a music supervisor, and gets clearances on music it doesn't control. With that kind of service, the idea is clients "will keep coming back," Minch says. "We have a number of clients, particularly ad agencies, who only use us, or use as the preferred suggester of music, which they would never have done five or six years ago."

Primary Wave is making its mark by distinguishing itself as a marketer, including launching a branding division, where there sole job is to look for opportunities with fortune 500 companies, according to partner and GM Justin Shukat. It even takes a marketing approach when trying to acquire catalog or signing songwriters, sitting down with authors and showing them a marketing plan so they can see how they are going to grow revenues.