Jerome Spence of Peer Music Talks Song Licensing & Royalties

Jerome Spence

Jerome Spence – Creative Executive of Film & TV at Peer Music

When we last interviewed you in our April/May 2010 issue you were with a smaller publishing company. You have since moved to the largest independent music publisher in the world, Peer Music. How did that opportunity come about?
Soon after our last interview I started my own company representing a few catalogs and executive producing music for licensing. Although I was happy out on my own, a job opened up at Peer and I couldn’t pass up such a great opportunity to represent such a historic and amazing catalog. I’m working alongside Sam Kling, my former boss at Firstcom/BMG. We had a great run a few years back and are looking to bring the same success to Peer.

What do you do at Peer Music?
I am the Creative Director of Film & TV. My responsibilities include pitching and marketing our copyrights to Film, Television and Video Games.

What is Peer Music all about and who are some of the artists you’re working with there?
Peer is about great music! With 28 offices in 32 countries Peer has a very diverse catalog and international presence. We own the copyrights to standards such as “Georgia On My Mind” and “You Are My Sunshine” Latin standards like “Besame Mucho,” “Mas Que Nada” and “Mambo #5.” Music by Buddy Holly, Donovan and the Hitmaker David Foster! Recent contemporary hits like Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” Rhianna’s “Umbrella,” and Katy Perry’s “Firework” were penned by our talented writers. I can go on and on. [laughs]

With major labels like Warner Music Group and EMI being sold, how has all the shifting in the music industry changed the way you do business at Peer Music?
I pay close attention to the dynamics of the industry, but I can’t say that what’s happening out there has affected how I license music.

How do you decide which writers, producers, and artists/bands to sign for music publishing deals?

That’s a question for our A&R department (also headed by Sam Kling), but I’d say that signings are decided on the artist or writers ability to create works that will be successful in Radio, Film & TV. A proven track record doesn’t hurt a bit.

Most artists don’t understand how publishing works. For those who don’t know, can you explain the various types of royalties and how they’re administered?
Here’s the quick version. Synchronization Royalties are paid to the writer and publisher when the song is used as background music in a Film (aired on TV), TV Show or Commercial. Mechanical Royalties are paid to the artist, songwriter and publisher on the number of records sold. Performance Royalties are paid to the songwriter and publisher when the song is played live or on the radio. Print Royalties are paid to the songwriter and publisher based on printed sheet music sales. As a music publisher, it’s our responsibility to collect and distribute royalties on behalf of our writers as well as create opportunities for them.

What is a most common mistake that unsigned artists tend to make when looking to sign a publishing deal?

The most common mistake in my opinion is the timing in which an artist makes the decision to seek a publishing deal. It’s important to have proven yourself as a songwriter before taking on a publishing deal.

How do you typically find placement opportunities in film and TV for Peer’s catalog of songs? Does the film/TV industry come to you or do you actively seek out those opportunities?
Naturally some opportunities come our way due to the caliber of songs we represent. It’s my job to search out opportunities for placement of our repertoire. If I told you my secrets to the game, I’d have to kill you. [laughs] I’m joking, but I keep close relationships with music supervisors and the studios and pitch music based on each production’s needs.