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Day 1 Specialist Seminar Review – How to Grow a Publishing Company


The ever-popular Specialist Seminar has been a staple in the MPA calendar for many years, some of the themes that have been covered include Sync, Sub-Publishing, US Copyright, Digital and much more.

This year we threw out the rulebook and completely revamped the format, making it the best and most engaging seminar yet! We also extended the seminar to make it a two-day event so we could really cover everything you need to know to build a publishing company. The MPA feels passionate that we picked a theme that is essential to maintaining a strong and prosperous music industry; as the trade association that empowers and represents music publishers across the UK, with access to the best in the business, we thought who better than the MPA to explore how to grow a successful music publishing company.

The informative two-day seminar covered all aspects of building a publishing company from the ground up; HR, hiring, systems, investment, networking, sub-publishing, A&R, pitching and much more. Along with some motivating panel topics, we secured the ‘crème de la crème’ of the music industry to discuss their top tips and share their stories of how to they got where they are.

The impressive thirty-eight speakers across both days included inspiring entrepreneurs, top executives and CEOs from across the music businesses. You can take a look at the speakers in the panel breakdown below.

A huge thank you again to PPL for hosting the event!

Panel 1 – The Team 

“Hiring is like painting, it’s all in the prep”


The key to making sure that the foundations of your company are solid is ensuring that you have the right staff team alongside you. The first panel of the seminar tackled the big question – how do you recruit the best team?

Natalie Longden (VP Human Resources) and Kelly Stone (Talent Acquisition Manager) from Warner Music Group shared a very informative and detailed presentation on how to recruit the right fit for your organisation and then retain and motivate your staff. They covered all aspects of HR, including how to recruit a star team, hiring apprentices and interns, the importance of HR policies, sourcing training, what to do when things go wrong, benefits and legal entitlements, and importantly, where to find advice.

Top quotes & tips:

  • Kelly – “When you’re starting out it’s important to think about your values and who you want to hire to fulfil those values”
  • Natalie – “One mistake people make is thinking “why wouldn’t someone want to work for us”
  • Kelly -“if you remember to be fair, then you can’t go far wrong”
  • Kelly – “Inject some personality and don’t be afraid to use a little humour”
  • Natalie –“One good question can lead to more questions and you can get a better sense of their involvement in a project” (on interview questions)
  • Kelly – “Create a learning culture”

Panel 2 – The Talent


“You marry a publisher, you go out with your label. It’s more than just a job” – Roberto Neri


The second panel of the day looked at the cornerstone of any successful publishing company, the writers. MPA’s CEO Jane Dyball discussed tips and advice on how to attract and retain talent with Amber Davis (A&R Director, Warner/Chappell Music), Dougie Bruce (A&R, Universal Music Publishing), Tim Dellow (Co-Founder, Transgressive Records/ Publishing) and Roberto Neri (Managing Director, Downtown Music Publishing).

Top quotes & tips:

  • Tim – “You just have to have faith in the songs”
  • Tim – “I’d be happy to buy into the ‘the label is dead’ idea, but behind a lot of great artists are great managers and great labels and publishers”
  • Dougie – “There’s a moment when it goes off and you get to enjoy the fact that your instinct was right”
  • Amber – “Artists are now self-sufficient…”
  • Amber on songwriters –“You have to be great within your area”


Panel 3 – The Business


“You’re only as good as your data” – Maria Forte


Right after lunch MPA Board member and Managing Director of Proof Songs, Justin Perry, chaired the next panel all about what systems are best and what you need to consider and asks the panel what options are out there.

Tom Makins (Royalties Manager, The Music Royalty Co), Maria Forte (Managing Director, Maria Forte Music Services Ltd) and Paul s’ Jacob (Founder & Director, XS50) discussed the importance of data, from the right song registration to copyright splits to royalties and where to host your data.

Top quotes & tips:

  • Paul – “The MPA is a good client because they understand the business!”
  • Tom – “It’s important to get as much correct data as possible”
  • Tom – “Simplify everything and keep all in one place”
  • Maria – “Whatever data you’re putting in, put it in right, put it in once”
  • Maria – “You have to be able to have an adaptable system”
  • Maria – “Own your own source code”       

Session 4 – The Money


“Your business plan needs to be credible, and the financials need to be credible, but the most important thing is the management team” Jeff Stubberfield


Show me the money – the final panel of day one was all about the money! MPA’s very own General Manager Antonia Gilham chaired a panel with Neil Semple (Head of Creative Content, Department for International Trade), Remi Harris (Music Industry Consultant & Co-Founder, Young Guns Network), Steve Lewis (Founder & Consultant, Steve Lewis Music Services), Jeff Stubberfield, (Director, Media Banking Office, Coutts).

The panel discussed everything from looking for an investment to signing talent, to getting your business off the ground to funding, and what is out there.

Top quotes & tips:

  • Steve – “It’s key that you have something that is going to make you stand out when competing with those who might be better resourced than you”
  • Steve – “You have to be sure that you have a team around you that will get the value from the works that you have acquired”
  • Remi – “The biggest funders within England would be the Arts Council and PRS Foundation and now MEG in terms of music support. There are also others like Help Musicians UK’’
  • Neil – “My top tip is for companies to contact their local international trade advisor who can provide advice and information on export support that is available in their area of the UK. They can find their local advisor by visiting

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