"Pro-active publishing, along with smart management and understanding the live business, can do a lot."


An exclusive HITS dialogue with Chrysalis Music Group President Kenny MacPherson
Publishing veteran and Chrysalis Music Group President Kenny MacPherson has been with the company since 2002, joining after a successful 12-year stint at Warner/Chappell, where he signed and developed Radiohead, Staind, White Zombie and Blue Nile. His publishing roster includes some of the hippest new bands around, including My Morning Jacket (which they also manage under Mike Martinovich’s Flatiron banner), Ray LaMontagne, Thom Yorke, TV on the Radio, Bon Iver, Mastodon, Fleet Foxes (ex-U.S.), Manchester Orchestra, Andrew Bird, White Lies, The Other Lives, White Rabbit and Kanye West collaborator No ID (“Heartless”). Other Chrysalis artists include longtime signings Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and Billy Idol, as well as OutKast’s Big Boi and Andre 3000, Paul Anka and Cy Coleman (“Witchcraft,” “Hey, Big Spender”). HITS' own penny pinching Roy Trakin takes a look underneath the kilt.

Are music publishers in a better position than record labels for the evolution of physical sales into digital?
Our business is to protect our writers’ copyrights. In an ever-evolving landscape, it’s important that the publishing community has been able to establish rates and have a formula in place for us to safeguard that intellectual property. I don’t see physical distribution going away any time soon. We all have to be aware of the various platforms to distribute music to the consumer.

How do you see music publishing evolving?
It all starts with the song. Without great songs, great songwriters and great artists to perform them and entertain you, most of us would be selling shoes at Target. There has to be an environment in which people have an incentive to create music. How good can music be if you have to flip burgers eight hours a day? People need to be able to make a living in music, or at least dream of doing so. There is already a legitimate business for online music at iTunes and Amazon. It’s all about making it easier for the consumer to buy music legally than it is illegally.

You’ve always been heavily invested in artist development.
Because of the size of this company, going back to our founding fathers, Chris Wright and Terry Ellis, the philosophy has been to nurture artists. A good example of that is Ray LaMontagne, whom we worked before he signed to a major label.

You promote Chrysalis Music Publishing as a boutique operation.
We all think like managers here, managing the careers of songwriters. You want people to leave a body of work—that’s how you build catalogs. It’s always been our mantra and continues to be. Pro-active publishing, along with smart management and understanding the live business, can do a lot.

The company has been on the sales block in the past.
We are a publicly traded company in the U.K. so, like any publicly traded company, we can be looked at any time. At this particular point, Chrysalis is not on the market. We’re still here and we’re still swinging for the fences.

How important are ancillary areas like ringtones, games, commercials, TV and film music?
All of the ancillary areas are very important in trying to make up for the drop in mechanical income with an increase in performance royalty, whether it’s music in greeting cards, or being aggressive with tablature, both digital and physical sheet music. We’re also looking for ways to re-record our catalog and create new masters that we can use in these areas.