In a series amid the coronavirus pandemic, Billboard is asking individuals from all sectors of the music business to share stories of how they work now, with much of the world quarantined at home and unable to take in-person meetings, attend conferences or even go into the office. Submissions for the series can be sent to HowWeWorkNow@Billboard.com. Read the full series here.
This installment is with Brooke Primont, Concord Music Publishing’s senior vp of synchronization.
Brooke Primont: I commute into [Manhattan] every single day. I live in a small town about 40 minutes outside of New York, so when this came down, it wasn’t as painful for me because it’s an hour and 15, sometimes two hours, door to door, depending on the day. So the idea of working from home was welcomed, in a sense.
But there are a lot of things that are stressing me out. I’ve got two boys, one in fourth grade and one in first grade, and they take a lot of time and a lot of distraction away from my job. My wife is a singer/songwriter [Concord Publishing writer Nini Camps]. She has a studio in our house downstairs and she’s doing a lot of co-write sessions right now. We ping pong taking care of the boys and homeschooling. Anytime I’m on a Zoom call and they come busting in, everybody understands it.
We were coming up on our ninth songwriting camp in June in Nashville. This year, we obviously canceled it and we came up with the idea of doing a virtual camp pretty quickly after everything shut down. We sent out an email to all of our writers saying, “Who wants in and what days are you available?” Everyone responded and we got a lot more people than we were expecting: it was about 74 writers in the end and 12 [music] supervisors. We held it March 23-27. Writers got their email assignments and groups the night before. We said, you could do Zoom, FaceTime, whatever works.
The best thing that came out of that is it really opened up so many new friendships between people. I keep hearing that people are booking themselves solid. That’s what happened to my wife. It’s a blessing and a curse for me because I never see her, but she’s also writing amazing songs. We have one [placement] by Judith Hill called “Thank You” that ran in a Target spot. It was co-written the week after the camp from a relationship that we started at the camp.
I oversee eight of us in the U.S. and we’ve got five more under my counterpart in London, Sara Lord. There’s 14 of us pitching for the worldwide publishing division.
My staff and I are basically on Google Chat together all day long coming up with ideas and brainstorming. All of our tools are online for pitching. They’re at home and they are pumping out pitches constantly all day. We do stretch classes twice a day online. We do happy hours every Friday on Zoom and we play games.
Nobody wants to film new spots or go into production, so we’ve been seeing a lot of renewals of ads that we didn’t expect to get. That’s been lucrative, because it’s like, “We’re going to renew this [synch] for another six months,” which has been great for us.
There’s definitely been a lot of new ads that have come into being because of [the pandemic] and they’re all super rushed. Whereas normally you would pitch something and it would be weeks later that you get a confirmation, now it’s pretty much within 48 hours that they request the quote and then confirm it.
So it’s been good for us in the ad area. TV and film, that’s a little different. In the beginning of this lockdown we saw a lot of rushing to get quotes for content that had already been filmed. But now we’re seeing a slowdown in that area. I think we’ll really see a downtick six to nine months from now, when those shows that would be filming now would be placing music, but it’s really hard to say what’s going to happen now. Maybe they’ll come up with new content, animation or more live things.
We’re all definitely communicating a lot more. Before, if you wanted to say one sentence to someone you just walked over to where they sit. Now you end up having a call or a Zoom about it and it turns into a longer conversation. You bring up topics that you might not have brought up. I’m talking to people in random offices of ours that I’ve never spoken to. It’s been good in that way.