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Publishing Briefs: Layoffs at Harry Fox Agency, UMPG Promotes Three, Recording Academy Talks Fairness

Recent publishing news includes layoffs at the Harry Fox Agency and promotions at Universal Music Publishing Group.

Here is a roundup of recent publishing news.


In an attempt to rationalize SESAC‘s acquisition of the Harry Fox Agency, sources say about 30 percent of the HFA staff will lose their job in total. Last week about 20 HFA staffers were let go, those sources say, while another 10 are expected to work through a transition period before being let go.

“Following SESAC’s recent acquisition of the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), several positions at HFA were identified as overlapping with existing resources at SESAC resulting in a determination that a reduction in staff was necessary,” SESAC chairman/CEO John Josephson said in a statement issued after an inquiry by Billboard. “This staff adjustment will in no way affect the level of service delivered by HFA as we are committed to providing the same or higher service levels than our publisher clientele expect and which they have received in the past.”

Moreover, Josephson said that going forward, SESAC will work with HFA staffers to “pursue a broader base of services in order to deliver the most efficient, multi-right, multi-territory licensing model possible.

“HFA is fortunate to have an outstanding staff and we are grateful for the contributions of all HFA employees in making it the leading company it is today,” Josephson said.



Three Universal Music Publishing A&R executives in the U.K. office have received promotions: Caroline Elleray becomes vp of A&R; Frank Tope becomes senior director of A&R; and Mark Gale becomes director of UK A&R director of international A&R. Previously, Elleray held the title head of A&R, while Tope was at the director level and Gale at the manager level at the company.

The team collectively have been involved in signing Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, Florence + The Machine, Haim, the xx, Chvrches, Lapsley, Janee Bennett and James Blake, among others.

“Frank, Mark and I have been working for Paul at Universal Publishing for many years now… We get to sign and work with the artists and writers that we love and represent the music that we’re passionate about,” Elleray said in a statement. “We’re equally excited about bringing through our new talented young A&R executives.”

Gale and Tope report to Elleray who in turn reports to Universal Music Publishing Europe & UK president Paul Connolly. In addition to Elleray, Gale also reports to Connelly for international A&R.

“Caroline, Frank and Mark exemplify truly excellent A&R,” Connolly said. “For many years they’ve been instrumental in attracting the best artists and songwriters from the UK and beyond.”



Does it make sense that companies like Google are a protected class from individual songwriters because of the consent decree imposed on performance rights organizations by the U.S. Dept. of Justice? 

That was the question that Recording Academy chief industry, government and member relations officer Daryl Friedman posed at a Sept. 21 “Grammy Town Hall” the organization held for its members at the Cutting Room in New York City.

The consent decrees imposed on the U.S. PROs — to prevent those organizations from possibly engaging in antitrust actions — result in artificially low royalty rates for individual songwriters, who are hurt by the process while large music users like Google benefit, he said. Fair rates for songwriters are among those issues that the Recording Academy is fighting for in Washington, Friedman said.

Moving onto performer issues, Friedman noted that the radio industry is the only business in the country that can use somebody else’s property without permission or compensation, and it’s time to close that loophole in copyright law.

“Imagine any other business in the country where one party says to the other ‘I am going to use your property because it is good for you,” Friedman said.

That’s not the only change the Recording Academy is lobbying for. He also said that some digital services are taking advantage of another loophole in copyright law and choosing not to pay record labels and performers for music recorded before 1972.

That’s not such a big deal, is it, he wondered. “Let face it, was any good music recorded before 1972,” he sarcastically asked the standing room only venue, before proclaiming: “We don’t think those artist should be penalized by a loophole in the law.”

Both issues are addressed by the Fair Play Fair Pay Act introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in April this year.

Finally, producers and engineers have a different issue, they are not mentioned in copyright law at all. Friedman said. So they too are included in the Fair Play Fair Pay act. The Recording Academy is fighting so that producers will get fair, fast and accurate pay for their digital royalties, Friedman said.

Beyond that legislation, Congress is looking at overhauling copyright law right now in a process that could take as mush as five years. This overhaul “represents an historic moment for the industry to get the changes” the Academy is advocating done, Friedman said. But there are a lot of players advocating for different interests. The other side has the broadcaster and technology companies and if the music industry isn’t united and instead debates one sectors vested interest versus another, “we will be the losers.”

Finally Friedman noted that “Grammys In My District” will be held on Oct. 14 as music creators and advocates meet with their congressional representatives in their local districts.