Even by music industry standards, publishing is a pretty small world: It’s an ultra-specialized area of the business and a tight community where pretty much everyone knows each other. But although the two co-chairs of Warner Chappell Music Publishing — former Sony/ATV president of worldwide creative Guy Moot and former SONGS publishing partner Carianne Marshall — are well-known and very well-respected executives, it’s perhaps surprising that they didn’t know each other very well before they found themselves running one of the world’s biggest music publishing houses together, effective the beginning of last month. Yet as we see below, all of that’s changing fast.
The two bring formidable and diverse experience and skills to their new roles. The British-born Moot is a 30-plus-year veteran who comes from the world’s largest music publishing company (he joined SBK Publishing in 1987 and rose through the ranks as it merged with EMI, and then EMI was acquired by Sony/ATV) and over the years has signed Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey, Mark Ronson, Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, StarGate, Sia, Paul Epworth and many others. Long based in London, he is moving to Los Angeles in the summer but will travel frequently between the two offices.
Marshall, on the other hand, comes from a small but powerhouse indie: Over the course of just 12 years, SONGS — where she was partner — signed Lorde, The Weeknd, Diplo, DJ Mustard and many others, and was sold to Kobalt last year for $150 million. In that role, she oversaw the creative-licensing staff responsible for placing compositions by the company’s writers in film, television, commercials, video games, and other visual media; previously she held film/TV-related roles at Universal and DreamWorks Music Publishing. She was brought into Warner Chappell last year as COO, just weeks before then-CEO Jon Platt announced he was leaving to take over for former boss Martin Bandier at Sony/ATV.
And with Moot and Marshall announcing that Ryan Press is now the company’s U.S. president of A&R, it’s a whole new world at Warner Chappell — literally, as the company recently moved into Warner Music’s new offices in Downtown Los Angeles, unveiled a new logo and (gasp!) even dropped the slash punctuation from Warner/Chappell, so it’s now Warner Chappell. Variety caught up with the pair last week from those offices.
What does this new logo say about the company and what you want to achieve?
Moot: For me, it’s contemporary and classic at the same time. We wanted a logo that our songwriters would be proud to wear on a piece of clothing, and so far everybody’s been very positive about it, including the artists. We can see it on hoodies as well as on skateboards [laughter]. It’s the first rebrand of Warner Chappell in over 30 years, so it’s really an external expression of what we want to do as a global company looking forward. We want to dream big with our songwriters and create the future together.
Marshall: The songwriters are our daily inspiration and we take the responsibility of being the custodians of amazing copyrights really seriously. Obviously, we have a new leadership team and a new office, but we wanted to make sure that the logo represented our entire journey and approach. We wanted it to show that our songwriters’ creativity is our reason for being.
Guy, are you enjoying L.A.?
Moot: In my early days it was all about New York, and L.A. was harder to figure out. Now, I don’t know if it’s growing on me as I get older or vice versa, but I’m loving it. I was coming here every six weeks or so, so I’m pretty familiar with it and I obviously know a lot of the attorneys and songwriters and people at record companies. I’m relocating in August, and I’m thrilled because the [Downtown L.A.] Arts District is a very exciting place culturally and there’s so much going on. It’s a global business, so I could have done this from London, although it would have been a lot harder.
Marshall: We feel like we belong here and the energy and creativity of the neighborhood will be very important as we build.
Do you feel that creatives have to be based in L.A., since so many of the studios and labels are based here?
Moot: A lot of that is economics. If you’re a young artist or writer trying to make it in the game, you’ve got to hire a studio, rent an apartment, feed yourself — in New York you’re out several grand a month before you’ve ever made any money. Here you’ve got an array of other writers to collaborate with, there are more studios, you’ve got media, and of course the entire film business. There’s origination of talent and innovation all over the world, but I see as many of our U.K. writers here in a week as I could if I was in the U.K. L.A. might not be the origination capital of the world but it’s certainly where you scale it and take it to another level.
You come from very different places — Carianne from a relatively new independent operation with a small team, Guy from the largest publishing company in the world. What are you bringing from those companies to Warner Chappell?
Marshall: I come from a smaller, entrepreneurial place. I feel great about the fact that Guy and I can both add value, based on what we brought from our past lives, and accelerate the pace of change. I’m excited about the reach that this company has globally, and how the songwriters benefit because of the support our team receives from the wider Warner Music Group infrastructure.
Moot: International was key for me at Sony. It’s easy to get into a bit of a bubble in L.A., but I’ll always be proudly global in my perspective. It’s very important that we’re out and about in Europe and Asia and other territories. We want to provide great service all over the world and I want to be sure our international coordination is better than anybody’s.
Did you know each other before?
Moot: No, and the word “co-chair” was used a lot in early conversations with Steve and Len, who both said “Carianne is amazing.” The “co” points to different skill sets and it’s good to be able to share the load, but obviously we both needed to know the person we’re “co”-ing with. Having met a few times, I liked her very much as a person, her energy and her views on publishing. We’re very aligned, and even more importantly, you’ve got to like the people you work with, otherwise, what have you got?
Marshall: Absolutely, I clearly am very comfortable in a partnership — I operated in a very successful partnership for 12 years at Songs and when it works well, it’s amazing. Guy and I can cover a lot more ground by melding our skill sets and experiences.
Who’s doing what in the partnership?
Marshall: We made it clear to our team that big decisions aren’t going to made without the other, regardless of the reporting lines. We already really trust each other, and right now we’re in such an important brainstorming and strategizing place, that most of what we’re doing is really collaborative.
Moot: We spent a long time on an org chart — that I since haven’t referred to (laughter). We wanted people to be clear internally that there was a direct line of responsibility so everyone would know who to go to, but honestly there’s nothing that we wouldn’t share for each other’s expertise and opinions.
Marshall: We did a Q&A with the staff on the day we launched the new logo. We talked a bit about our backgrounds and took on some relatively tough questions from the team. The point was that we wanted to highlight that we’re doing this together and there’s no layer between us and the rest of the company. We’re a team — we are not making any big decisions in silos.
Obviously it’s very early in your partnership, but can you talk about your vision for the company?
Moot: I want to be sure we’re very strategic about what we sign, because it’s a cultural expression of who we are. As much as we’re in this hit-driven streaming world, you need to be able to put something in the shop window to show what we stand for musically. [To that end], we really want to mentor and recruit young, fresh A&R people who come from respective scenes and communities — I don’t think that’s always represented inside major music companies. We’re plugged in with research and data and all that, but we need to get back to the essence of what I loved most about my early publishing days, when you signed an Amy Winehouse or someone like that — developing artists and songs before record deals. We’ve got the creative facilities and we can finance and invest in talent. I don’t want A&R people saying, “I like this artist but it’s not streaming and there’s no socials.” If the artist is good, we can develop them and help to raise their streams and socials.
Marshall: We’re also focused on making sure our songwriters are heard throughout every phase of their career, whether they’re a legacy songwriter, a Grammy-winning songwriter or a new and developing songwriter — we have the skills and the resources to dig deep on the services we provide to all of our songwriters. That’s why we’re building out our Creative Services department. That’s why we’re thinking about ways we can collaborate more closely with our label partners and with all sorts of other innovative companies to make sure we’re really reaching every corner of our songwriter community.
Any new music or recent signings you’d like to highlight?
Moot: We’re just getting started, but there’s a lot going on. We just signed Summer Walker [an artist on Interscope Records]. There’s El Guincho in Spain, who works with Rosalia. He’s amazing —we just extended his deal, which includes his production and publishing company. [British rapper] Stormzy is going to have an incredible album. Like I said, we want to be truly global company and have great music coming from every corner of the world.