Amy Morgan, music publisher

 5 October 2013

Amy turned her love of music into a job before she even graduated, and went on to a successful career which included working in A&R. She is now the Creative Director of a music publisher.

Amy advises having a busy calendar of gigs if you want to enter the music industry.
Amy advises having a busy calendar of gigs if you want to enter the music industry.

Hometown?

I'm from Glasgow, but I now live in London.

What job do you do?

I'm the Creative Director of Beggars Music, an independent music publisher. 

How did you get into music?

I've always been a big music fan. When I was growing up I went to loads of gigs and clubs and many of my friends were musicians. 

While I was studying for a degree in Bristol, Island Records offered me the opportunity to become a music scout. This involved keeping them up to speed with all things music in the city, from gig venues to club nights and any exciting musical changes. 

I knew I wanted to be an A&R scout, so I took on A&R work at night.

After graduating, I moved to London and started temping at record agencies, helping out on reception. 

I knew I wanted to be an A&R (Artists and Repertoire) scout, so I took on A&R work at night with Zomba – now Imagem Music – to supplement my day job. 

I was lucky that I didn't have to do unpaid work. The majority of my friends had to do around eight months of working for free to get a break in the industry.

My next career step came when I was asked to do A&R at V2 Records. When Universal Music bought them up and redundancies were on the horizon, I moved over to Cooperative Music as International Product Manager.

After four years, I wanted to return to A&R. Andy Heath, the Director of Beggars, asked me to come on board as the Creative Manager, and I eventually became Creative Director.

What qualifications do you have?

I did a degree in Drama at Bristol University. Although I was always a fan of music, I didn't study music subjects – I approached it as an enjoyer, not a creator. 

What do you do in your job?

People often get confused by what music publishing is. Music publishers support songwriters and composers, helping them develop creatively and making sure they get royalties for their work. It's my job to fulfil any ambitions and ideas they may have. 

My day-to-day job largely involves going to meetings all over the county and negotiating with different parties. I meet with other A&Rs, managers, labels and music supervisors, trying to find interesting projects for our artists to be involved with. 

I spend a lot of time in the studio listening to new music, overseeing sessions. And plenty of time goes on emails, arranging sessions, negotiating splits, fees and making sure our admin team have all the info they need to register the songs.

I also have a permanent backlog of tracks to give feedback on.

What's the best thing about your job?

All of it! I love it!

But to single some things out, working with writers is amazing. In music publishing you get to help them develop their music and their careers. Whereas at a record label you have to be concerned about sales. This can lead to a conflict of interest between the artist's and the label's objectives. 

What's the worst thing about your job?

It can be frustrating at times. Music publishing operates much more slowly that the rest of the industry – it takes a lot of time to, for example, get collaborations together. This means things can fall by the wayside. 

This is even more true at Beggars because we're very artist-based, so we fit around the artist's schedule. 

How do I get into music?

1. Make yourself known

Offer ideas, talk about new bands and show you are active in exploring live music.

Many parts of the music industry are hard to make a living in. You need to prove yourself. Go to club nights and gigs and write a blog, otherwise people won't find you.

Have lots going on – being young is a big advantage as you're the audience that the industry is interested in!

2. Prove yourself early on

Internships and work experience can be a good way to take the first step, but you will have to work hard to land them as they are fairly scarce. Once you're there, concentrate on making an impression: offer ideas, talk about new bands and show you are active in exploring live music.

3. Make sure you understand the industry

Lots of people have misconceptions about jobs in the music industry. It's common for people feel that all the glamour is in the labels. But if you're really passionate and you enjoy things like A&R, it's better to go into music publishing.

In my opinion, music publishing lets you support what creative people actually want, rather than steering them for sales. You can always move on to a label later if you want to.


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