'Inspirational music will carry us through': How UMPG's connecting co-writers under lockdown

'Inspirational music will carry us through': How UMPG's connecting co-writers under lockdown

Universal Music Publishing Group has revealed its support strategy for songwriters during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As reported in the latest issue of Music Week, the publisher is responding to the crisis with a series of measures to help co-writing continue. And it’s still making signings too –  recent deals confirmed via Zoom include publishing agreements with Rina Sawayama, Oscar Lang and Jamie N Commons.

"It’s very much business as usual from a creative point of view,” said UMPG MD Mike McCormack. “We are getting deals signed and looking at new opportunities available. We have adapted quickly to this new way of working and the whole team at UMPG UK and globally are communicating regularly with each other and our writers. On a personal note, I believe truly great, inspirational music will help carry us through these times more than ever.” 

A note initiated by UMPG UK A&R Colette Goodfellow was sent to all the writers, which encouraged remote writing sessions, beats for artists and writers, toplines for producers and to consider revisiting old tracks. 

“Remote sessions are very much still taking place,” added Darryl Watts, A&R director. “It’s been a time to be more creative than ever, to think more laterally and to be supportive of our writers and artists.”

Recent examples of remote sessions UMPG UK has facilitated include new signings Meduza & Tom Walker, Dan Smith & Kenny Beats, Joel Corry & Ed Drewett, and Maisie Peters & Jon Green.

I believe truly great, inspirational music will help carry us through these times more than ever

Mike McCormack

UMPG is also focusing on sync opportunities, despite the global shutdown. 

“While some productions have been postponed, we have noticed that release dates for shows that were already finished have been brought forward whilst so many people are staying at home and watching TV,” said Tom Foster, European head of film & TV. “Killing Eve season 3 being one example which features a fantastic use of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s Crocodile Rock.

“We are also seeing brands creating ads with lots of user-generated content. There is a Lipton’s ad on-air at the moment that features footage people have filmed on their mobile phones at home. They’ve used a recording by Nina Nesbitt of Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s classic Together Forever, which conveys the message of staying connected while at home.”

Global initiatives by the publisher include a 14-day song challenge by UMPG Latin, a weekly ‘songs and beer’ virtual session by UMPG Nashville to play new or unrecorded compositions and the coordination of co-writing via Skype. The Skype sessions can be planned in advance or UMPG can create spontaneous connections for its writers on the day. 

Universal Music Group has come up with a series of measures to support staff, artists and songwriters. For songwriters, the UMPG Window app will likely become even more of a vital resource for tracking royalties.

In a letter to songwriters, partners and clients, UMPG CEO and chairman Jody Gerson said: “New songs will be added to our systems and submitted for registration as we continue promoting and licensing your music with the same passion and care we have always offered. UMPG’s creative team will continue working with our writers on collaborative opportunities.” 

To read the full report on the publishing sector’s response to Covid-19, subscribers can click here. To subscribe and never miss a big industry story, click here.

* To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.

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