Simon Pursehouse (Director of Music Services at Sentric Music)
The glut of recent news stories surrounding the financial woes of HMV, the UK’s last remaining high street music store, clearly demonstrates a change in consumer habits. Physical format is out, save for a few luxurious niches, digital is in. Streaming and downloading dominate the way that the majority of us consume music in 2013. The problem? It’s much more difficult for musicians to make money this way. Major streaming service Spotify has a history of upsetting artists with puny royalty cheques whilst iTunes is a bleak sea of competing voices amongst whom it can be easy for unsigned artists to be lost. I know, I know! There are bound to be exceptions and there’ll be those of you out there tutting and shaking heads slowly whilst solemnly mouthing at the screen that it was never about the money anyway. But for others, making a living from music is the dream. More than that, it’s a necessity. So it can come as no surprise that more and more artists are chasing an alternative revenue stream…synchronisation. With over fifteen thousand bands signed up to publishing and sync agency Sentric Music, and getting your music placed on television shows and adverts on the top of every aspiring artist’s to do list, it seemed like the perfect time to catch up with Director of Music Services and all round gentleman, Simon Pursehouse, to find out what goes on behind the closed doors of the Sentric offices.
How did you get into the world of music synchronisation and publishing? Was it something you were always interested in?
Not initially to be honest! Whilst studying a business and management course (which was targeted at the music/arts) I did a substantial module on marketing and copyright for around ten weeks or so and came out of the other end with music publishing still being a bit of a mystery. My colleague Chris had the initial bright idea that has since evolved into Sentric Music and back at university he approached me about getting involved. At the time I was all set to go into the radio industry, but Sentric seemed like quite a clever idea; demystifying music publishing and making it available to everyone. No one else was doing it and the idea of building something from scratch and having responsibility from the outset rather than going into an established company and potentially falling into the ‘making tea and photocopying’ trap really appealed to me. As we grew (we launched in 2006) and brought more people on board we naturally began to fall into certain roles, as I knew our catalogue better than anyone else it fell to me to try and get it used in the world of TV/movies/games/adverts etc. Due to the size of the Sentric operation now we’ve all got our departments and teams around us working to grow each area of the business; we’re currently getting our music used on TV on a daily basis so it’s quite the job to make sure we’re delivering our best music to our clients around the world with all the information they need in order to place it in their projects.
What does being Head of Music Services at Sentric actually mean on a day to day basis?
Listening to a lot of music; from artists we’ve had a relationship with for a while to artists I’ve never heard of before. We have over 15k+ bands signed up to Sentric’s service now and we listen to every single one of them to see if they’re suitable to be pushed for synchronisation. I liaise with our copyright team to ensure all the relevant rights are registered with the correct Performing Rights Organisations, I receive and respond to briefs from our music supervisor contacts who might be looking for a particular style/genre of music for their current project, I draw up licenses and liaise with lawyers to ensure the artist is protected when their music is synced. I also run Sentric’s social media channels (@SentricMusic / www.sentric.wordpress.com / www.facebook.com/sentricmusic /) and produce and distribute our monthly podcast (www.soundcloud.com/
How important do you think synchronisation is for emerging artists in the current music industry climate?
When utilised properly it can be career changing, but if you don’t make the most of the opportunity then it can be pretty uneventful for the artist in question. We’ve had artists sell thousands of singles/EPs off the back of a single US TV show placement, but we’ve also seen artists not even mention the fact they’ve been featured on huge TV shows and miss out on potentially thousands of new fans and a lot of income. Most syncs we land here range from £1,000 – £20,000 which aren’t groundbreaking sums of money (especially if there are three or four of you in the band), but every so often a very big one will come in which does mean the artist doesn’t have to worry about paying bills for a while. I’ve written about how artists can make the most out of any syncs they land, if you want to find out more the check out http://sentric.wordpress.com/
What have been Sentric’s real success stories?
It’d be unfair to pick out any particular artist or event – the fact that we’re doing what we do is something I’m quite proud of! We’re currently home to tens of thousands of songwriters in the UK and throughout the coming year we’ll be expanding worldwide. We’ve got a really strong, close knit team here who are all really ambitious and we’re going to keep on pushing to try and ensure Sentric reaches its potential.
What does the future hold for both you, professionally, and Sentric?
I want Sentric to become an absolute necessity for artists around the world. When a new band is formed and they think; “Right, need to set up an email address, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud…” Sentric Music is going to be on that list. We’re a service that’s free to join like all the others, but we send everyone money once a quarter – it’s a bit of a no brainer I’d hope! We’re set to launch in a number of key territories over the next eighteen months and the synchronisation division needs to offer a diverse product which allows those who need music to access and use it with little hassle and for those artists who get used to receive every penny they’re deserved. There are millions upon millions of songs out there, and I need to make sure everyone is using ours.
Which bands or solo artists are you going to be watching in 2013?
Cattle & Cane, Club Smith, Eliza & The Bear, Kowalski, Queen Of Hearts, Spring Offensive… Loads more as well! There’s an astonishing amount of talent out there. The first month of 2013 alone has delivered some amazing music; if it carries on like this we’re in for a vintage year.