Liva and I met when we were both working at the infamous Old Blue Last. With her no bullshit approach to work, she’s also the most fun to go to gigs with, so it makes sense she’s working in the music industry now.
What is your job, exactly? I’m an International Account Coordinator at Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL). It’s a music licensing company. We issue licenses to all the public spaces that play recorded music (gyms, pubs, clubs, or smaller ones, hairdressers, school canteens, even prisons!). In the UK by law you have to have licenses to play recorded music. The second thing we do is to collect royalties (both in the UK and worldwide) from broadcasters: radio and television companies. And we distribute these royalties to our members, musicians.
I work in the international department, so I help the companies that we work with, processing their claims. PPL is a non-profit organisation, so we take a small cost. We’re competing with many profit-based companies or even music publishers. They can’t issue the licenses like we do but we are competing for the musician mandates to give us the right to collect royalties on their behalf.
What makes your company stand out? We are non-profit so we’re taking a smaller cut than everyone else is. You don’t need to pay to become a member. We are the market leader in Europe. I believe we are one of the best in the world. We have really good databases and systems. The company’s been around for 80 years so there’s a huge knowledge and we keep on improving our systems. And we’re helping other smaller companies so sort out their offices in terms of getting a good database.
On a day to day basis what do you do? Mostly it’s replying to queries from the societies that I work with. Often to find out whether certain musician has changed their mandate and whether we’re still collecting on their behalf, or if their membership has terminated and if so, when. There’s a lot of data processing, time spent on Excel sheets, communicating internally with other departments such as record company services, registration queries and claims or legal and finance. I also prepare files that we send out to these societies so we can claim revenue (it can be enormous) for airplay that a certain musician has received somewhere.
What were you doing before? I assisted a music manager, which was great because I worked really closely with one person so I got to know the ins and outs of that profession.
What was your first job? It was in a supermarket during summer when I was 16 and it was awful. I was spending seven hours in a supermarket stocking shelves and checking the use-by date whilst everyone else was eating ice cream in the sun and going to the seaside. I had a drive to get through that month because I really wanted to go to a music festival, so I needed money and I was playing songs in my head to get through the day. I was working with people that weren’t very inspiring. I realised that I wanted to do everything that it takes not to end up working in a supermarket full time.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? I changed my mind often. Actress, fashion designer, illustrator, book publisher, journalist…
A lot of creative things then. I happened to be in that sort of environment, in book publishing and journalism.
Is there anything you would have done differently, given the choice? I wish I learned Excel better.
What did you study? Did you do internships? I studied media and communications. At 16 I had a work experience at a company called Transparency International, they fight against corruption. I was an office administrator and it gave me the skills to deal with picking up the phone and communicating to colleagues. Very basic skills, but quite important.
Do you know what you want to do later? My goal at the moment is to become an account executive. After that, music management is something I’m quite intrigued by, but I’m not sure whether I’ll actually pursue it as a paid job. I also want to study Intellectual Property Law… but we’ll see about that.
What do you wear to work? There isn’t a dress code in our office, which is great. I just wear things that I feel comfortable in but I also try and dress up a bit to feel smart and organised, to get the inner feeling that I’m going to work.
When you started at this company did you feel that you had to buy new clothes? I did but only because it was such a contrast from before, with the pub and the music management. It didn’t make sense to use the same set of clothes to be at a completely different, more organised environment. I bought my first ever pencil skirt, not to go to the office but to go to the job interview.
Do you have a secret pick-me-up thing that you do? I put on some Beyoncé if I feel I’m losing all enthusiasm. She did a track with Tricky at Glastonbury. He’s just not on the same level as Beyoncé in that performance. He comes on the stage and he’s just standing there, not really singing. When I feel really down I put it on because it’s energetic, uplifting and very, very funny. At least to me.
Do you have any side projects? I manage a band called Tamu Massif. It’s the first band that I manage on my own. I help them decide what the band should be doing and how to achieve certain goals. I liaise with record companies and people that are interested in working with us: PR companies, event managers, bookers.
Do they pay you? No.
Do you still ask the music manager that you used to assist for advice? I have recently texted him asking what to do in a certain situation, or asking about how trustworthy some people are. It’s a relief to know that there’s someone that you can turn to. He’s been great, he’s someone that I look up to in terms of music management.
Who should I speak to next? My friend Ernest.