Women In Music Awards 2023: Businesswoman Of The Year Andrea Czapary Martin

Women In Music Awards 2023: Businesswoman Of The Year Andrea Czapary Martin

At the Women In Music Awards 2023, we celebrated the achievements of 13 game-changing executives and artists as the industry came together to honour their work. Music Week has spoken to all 13 winners to tell their stories.

Words: Anna Fielding      

The winner of our Women In Music Businesswoman Of The Year award, Andrea Czapary Martin was appointed CEO of PRS for Music in June 2019. The organisation protects the rights of more than 165,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers globally. 

Beginning her career at multi-brand media and entertainment company Reader’s Digest Association, she rose through the ranks to become president and CEO of three international business units (Canada, Latin America and Asia Pacific) within the company from 2004 to 2009. She was then appointed President and CEO of life science company Les Laboratoires Biocean Canada Inc from 2010 to 2012, alongside a position on the company’s board of directors.

From 2012 to 2015, she served as managing director of data services for the UK’s Royal Mail. She was appointed president of security services company ADT Canada and Protectron from 2015 to 2017, before joining the board of Québecor, a Canadian leader in telecommunications, entertainment, news media and culture, serving as an Independent non-executive director until 2019. From 2018 to 2020, she served as an advisory board Member for Danish fintech company Moneyflow.

Under Martin’s leadership, PRS For Music’s commercial strategy is geared towards maximising the value of members’ music, identifying new licensing opportunities in the global market, and investing in new technologies, delivering record-breaking revenues and royalties paid out, year-on-year. 

Transformation initiatives including the groundbreaking Nexus programme addressing worldwide music metadata issues. Martin has a commitment to driving the industry towards a single and unified international data strategy, to create solutions and opportunities, and revolutionise how quickly music royalties are paid to songwriters and composers.

She is also a board Member of ICE, the joint venture company formed by CMOs PRS, GEMA and STIM, enabling songwriters and publishers to be compensated accurately when their works are used internationally.

Here, Women In Music Businesswoman Of The Year award winner Andrea Czapary Martin (pictured with PRS Members' Council president Michelle Escoffery) shares her vision for the licensing sector and ambitions for PRS For Music…

How does it feel to win this WIM award? 

“I’m very honoured to win this award. I’ve won some in Canada as the CEO of different companies, but this one is very special to me for a couple of reasons. I love music. I was in the music industry a long time ago, clearing mechanical rights to compilations. I was asked to be in charge of all the music divisions around the world and to move to New York when I was quite young, for Reader’s Digest. I had to say no, because my husband had his own company and didn’t want to move. To my chagrin, because that was a very big job for someone who wasn’t even 40 years old. And, also, when I was young, I was dyslexic and music helped me move through life. I haven’t spent most of my career in the industry [but] the board had the courage to hire me with my knowledge of transformation through people, my knowledge of big data, tech and digital. And, as a non-Brit, it’s quite something to get this award after four years of leading PRS for music.” 

How have you changed the organisation in those four years? And what changes are still to come? 

“I have this, I would say, playbook, because every time I take on a new role as CEO, I improve it. I'm a big proponent of a 100-day plan. But I'm also a big proponent of something I call PPE, so internal people, external people and executing, making those tough decisions. I think the main focus in the first 100 days was really building that high-performing team and getting them involved in new solutions for old problems. That was a big point. So a big focus on people. A big focus on changing culture and a journey of change. And then we have an innovation lab so people can pitch their bright ideas. 

“I also created an innovation leadership group. Because we need to be more innovative: I’m a big believer of not just the what, but the how. We have five values, and I expect employees to demonstrate those values. And I think the big change, which was almost right at the beginning, we started a governance change. Because our governance of PRS was very heavy. It didn't promote diversity. It took forever to make decisions. It was the same for 20 years. And so we changed it and, at the AGM in 2020, it went through as a vote. So a lot of changes, and a very much more human approach to leading the company.”

We need to be more innovative: I’m a big believer of not just the what, but the how

Andrea Czapary Martin

You mention new solutions to old problems. Can you give us an example? 

“I suppose now we're at the stage of new solutions to old problems. But when I came in, we really had to be brilliant at the basics, we had to build that foundation. I always do the analogy of a house, you can deliver fantastic bathrooms and decorate it, but only if you have that solid foundation. We needed to bring things into the cloud. We were processing about 21 trillion sources of data on hardware. The employees couldn't serve the members properly on what I call green screens. So we brought in Salesforce, we have a CRM system. And now we're at the stage where we launched Project Nexus, which is a new solution to old problems. We are redoing what we call our end-to-end distribution, so we can be more transparent, more accurate and quicker in distributions. We’re re-hauling our registration, our music, our digital experience. We licensed new platforms that play music – 82 new platforms in two years. When I came in, we only did nine big licences, and when I say a big licence I mean anything over £10 million.”

You’ve said you want PRS to become a £1billion collecting society. What was the reaction to that and how close are you? 

“I announced that and I also announced two other things. I announced 10% cost to income ratio. And when I came in, it was 13%, the average top 15 societies are more like 14%. The 10%, we did it in a year instead of five years, the aspiration was for 2026. Last year, we finalised a 9.3% cost to income ratio. Then there was being innovative in our joint ventures, in our systems. I talked about Oracle, we’re probably the only CMO that put it into the cloud, which is huge. But it wasn’t just collecting. I want a billion pounds paid out, going into the bank accounts of our members. This year it looks as though in collections we’re going to be over a billion. In distribution, which is what we call royalties paid out, we won’t be there. But I don’t want to jinx it, because you never know. Hopefully there won’t be another pandemic.” 

The pandemic wasn't that long after you'd been appointed CEO. What kind of leadership skills did that require to be relatively new in a role and to face a global catastrophe?

“Yeah, that was quite tough. I was barely six months into the job… The Covid plan was a very simple plan. It was about the livelihood of the employees. And some people say, well, it should be the members. But if the employees are not well and not able to deliver, then we can't serve our members. For our members, we launched the PRS Members Fund through a not-for-profit joint venture. We gave out over £2.1 million to over 5,000 members. I’d gone back to Montreal because my mother was dying and I was in quarantine for seven weeks. I woke up at two in the morning and worked from the big dining table at the farm, that was my control centre. I was by myself because it ended up that no one could come and see me in Canada… But you don’t, as a leader, do things by yourself. You have a team, a diverse team, a winning team.”

You’ve made some key appointments across equality, diversity and inclusion. Do you see your organisation as helping to drive reform in the industry? 

“Absolutely. We started with governance. That was really important because we had no tenure. We had someone on our board, now called the Members’ Council, who was there for 50 years. If someone is there for 50 years, how can you bring in change? We’ve now tripled the amount of women, we have people from different ethnic backgrounds, neurodiversity. It takes time to do this, but we have targets and we’re on the right path. In terms of the gender pay gap, it didn’t look very well last year because of the pandemic, but I’ve seen the prelims and I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we’ll announcing something positive.”

You have quite a lot of affiliations with other PROs as well. Do you often deal with women executives in equivalent roles to yours?

“Absolutely. So we have Elizabeth, but we call her Beth, Matthews who's the CEO of ASCAP and actually I'm going to LA, she's going to be honoured. You've got Cecile Rap-Veber from SACEM. They’re important, the foreign societies, because our repertoire travels so much. It's important that we work with those other societies, even though they are competitors. It's important that we work with them because they collect money on our behalf.”

Click here for more from Women In Music 2023.


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