Music industry vet Lionel Conway has been named partner in Maverick Music, the publishing arm of Madonna’s Maverick Entertainment.
Conway, company prexy since its inception in 1992, has struck a number of key deals with songwriters and has made the tiny publisher an industry player active in bidding wars for new artists.
With pricetags for the publishing rights to many buzz bands topping $650,000, smaller publishers typically have a tough time landing what the industry perceives as the next big thing.
But Conway, who will now share in the rewards with Maverick principals Madonna and Freddy DeMann, has managed to defy the odds and ink some of the industry’s best and brightest.
The outfit recently inked publishing pacts with Epic Records act Save Ferris and Sony Music’s hot new act Din Pedals and an administration deal with Tom Waits’ publishing firm, Jalma Music.
“The size here permits me to be all over the shop,” Conway told Daily Variety. “I can pursue flavor-of-the month bands or small catalogs, and (trade) in pop, country or even contemporary Christian.”
He can also “song-plug,” industry vernacular for seeking out artists to record songs owned by the publisher or get the tunes placed in films or TV.
Conway has also established an outpost in Nashville, widely considered the music industry’s last bastion of songwriting, where top songs and scribes flourish.
To that end, under Conway’s aegis Maverick Music has inked a number of potent songwriters such as the prolific Lucinda Williams, who penned Mary Chapin Carpenter’s hit “Passionate Kisses,” which earned a Grammy Award in 1993 for best female country performance, and Robin Lerner, who has written hits for Randy Travis and is behind Faith Hill’s current chart-topper “This Kiss.”
Maverick has also enjoyed successes with the Deftones and alterna-rock band Candlebox, which is also inked to Maverick Records. The songwriter stable also boasts Abra Moore and Ron Sexmith.
“Lionel has had to overcome the disadvantage of starting a publisher from scratch, something that is very difficult to do today in light of how competitive the industry has become,” said Les Bider, CEO of publishing industry leader Warner/Chappell, which has a co-publishing pact with Maverick. “But he’s had a very high success ratio because his experience gives him a great sense of knowing what will work.”
Conway has modeled Maverick after Island Music, where he held court for more than 20 years and built the publisher (which was sold to Polygram for $30 million) from scratch.
While there he inked such groundbreaking artists and songwriters as Cat Stevens, U2, Robert Palmer and Jimmy Cliff, among many others.