Jennifer Beavis has seen reams of change in the music business during her 25 years in the game. Contraction and amalgamation have been the watchwords since she graduated from Fanshawe College in 1993. She’s been employed full-time, and she’s been a contractor and consultant, but in her heart she’s always been a music publisher.
“The business has transformed into a gig economy,” says Beavis, who accepts the reality with cheerful resignation. “I started Librascor because it was hard to find another full-time permanent position in a similar executive capacity. But I’ve never looked back.”
Today, as the principal of Librascor Copyright Consulting, Beavis marches to her own drum, working for a roster of clients that currently includes BMG Rights Management, where she is a director for the Canadian entity, Zoomer Media, and Corkscrew media. Other Librascor clients have included Arts & Crafts Productions, 604 Records, CCS Rights Management, Street Quality Entertainment, C2W Music Ltd., and Entertainment Tonight.
“I love what I do, and thankfully I reached a level in my career where I had enough experience and enough contacts that I was able to offer my services on a consulting basis. The business is getting smaller, and a lot of the work is done in the U.S. but they need Canadian expertise.
“At first there was a lot of picking up the phone,” recalls Beavis. “That’s what happened with BMG, which had ended their relationship with their previous Canadian administrator. I called up the head of North America because I had a relationship with him, and two weeks later I had the job. I can’t believe it’s been five years already.”
“I called up the head of North America because I had a relationship with him, and two weeks later I had the job.”
Beavis’ tips for songwriters seeking a music publisher
- “Be visible. We live in a social media and marketing world, and publishers need to be able to find you. Unsolicited works are still a no-no. The onus is on the writer/performer to create a buzz, and once they do that, the industry people need to be able to find you.”
- “Be present. Go to industry events, conferences, etc. Hang out and meet the players after the panels, most of them are happy to talk, they want to give back. Once you have a relationship, your work is no longer unsolicited, and they’ll often accept your submission.”
- “Do your research. If you’re sending songs to publishers or music supervisors, know what they’re looking for, don’t waste their time. Landing a song in a show is a huge way to gain profile and start building a story. Never send physical product, send links to online files.”
In some ways the BMG gig represents the closing of a circle. One of Beavis’s first professional jobs was as a publishing assistant with BMG Music Publishing Canada. Beavis credits BMG’s Dianna Rybak with helping to set her on her way. “She gave me my first job and taught me the basics of [copyright] administration,” remembers Beavis. “We had an excellent working relationship and she respected me, which went a long way in building my confidence, and re-affirming my decision to do this for a living.”
While so much of the business is focused on the sexier A&R side, Beavis has made her mark in administration. “It’s not the sexy side,” she agrees, “at least not until people want their money. Different territories have different rules, and I like knowing that stuff. I guess it’s in my genes – I have two lawyers in the family. Maybe there’s something about rules that I enjoy, understanding that there’s an answer to a given problem. It just makes sense to me.”
Beavis has always made it a priority to give back. She’s served on the boards of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Publishers Association, the Durham College Music Business Management program, and on committees with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) and the Canadian Country Music Association Awards. She’s also taught and lectured at Durham College, The Trebas Institute, the International Academy of Design and The Audio Recording Academy (TARA).
“The Boards I’ve served on are good for my network,” she concedes, “but they also feed my interest in the specifics of the business. I’m genuinely interested in copyright matters, and I want to stay abreast of changes in the field. I think I have a lot to contribute – the admin side may not be sexy but it’s elemental to keeping the business afloat.”
Beavis has special regard for SOCAN. “Canadian songwriters and music publishers are very well represented,” she says. “What we do in this country with fewer resources is incredible. Somehow SOCAN has been able to make its members feel like it’s a mom-and-pop organization, and yet they compete and are respected on the international stage. SOCAN represents its writers very well internationally – better than any other society, in my opinion.”