It's been three years since our last interview, bring us up to date with the latest in regards to Notting Hill, Who's Harris Entertainment and most importantly Livio Harris
Wow time flies. First of all I'd like to take the time to thank you guys-(Conrad, AZ, PMP, and Sarah Johnson) for even allowing me to do these interviews on your PMP WORLDWIDE site, because it keeps me relevant.
I've been around the world and it's funny, people come up to me and say I read your PMP article and it inspired me, so I owe you guys big time. Thanks.
As for the latest in regards to Notting Hill Music, we are continuing to grow in this straining climate of the music business. We have had to think a bit smarter on how we move compared to the previous times whereas before, we would cut a check based on the potential and expectations of a producer or writer. Now it's based on what u got popping, like, who do you have a placement on now as opposed to just doing deals off of hype. Also we wanna know do you have a placement, who is the Artist, what's the status of the Artist, is the Artist equal to the status of a Lil Wayne, Rhianna, Flo-rida, Drake? Also Notting Hill being on both sides of the pond - London and the U.S., it's important to the company that whatever we sign crosses into other countries - (U.K. Germany, Japan, Africa) etc.
As for Who's Harris Entertainment, this is my personal baby which houses Artists, Actors, Producers, and a Film & Television Division.
My drive and influence comes from that of Russell Simmons, and my manager from 1990 when I was an artist. His name is Kurt "Juice" Woodley a former executive at Uptown Records back in the day; we speak often still to this day.
As for my roster I have Rap Artist/ Actor Lil J he is on the verge of blowing as it goes by movies, and he's re-invented himself with his new group called Ladiekillus-(Which consists of Lil J as a rapper, member Japan as a singer, and Tokyo as a DJ).
Check out J's acting in the new
Robert Townsend Film "In the Hive"- Trailer:
Also check out Ladiekillus Video teasers on You Tube.
My other Super Star is Shanica
Knowles, She is talented, young, black, and plays guitar. Her style is like Adele meets Bruno Mars smashed together. Trust me, when I tell you that she has the potential to be Taylor Swift status as it goes by fans, and the same opportunities, mark my word. Shanica is in a lane of her own.
I also represent Songwriters/Producers, HITBANGAZ-(Damario & Los), out of Los Angeles as well.
You will be hearing a lot of hits from these guys this year. They also help me, J, and Ladiekillus mold their sound. They remind me of a modern day Jam and Lewis but younger, and they do it all Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, Gospel, whatever. They are very persistent and efficient.
In regards to Livio Harris, I'm just trying to stay focused on all the projects, Artist, Actors, mentioned above and still manage to run Notting Hill Music Publishing as V.P. of A&R.
What is your take on the major labels going from the Big 4 to the Big 3 with the recent sale of both EMI the recording label as well as EMI publishing arm?
Man its crazy, when I was an artist there were the big 5 - (Sony, EMI, Warners, BMG, and Universal) to see it slim down to the big 3 is actually scary. I feel it makes it even more difficult for real talent to get deals. In my opinion that's why they've come up with these almost impossible ways of doing business.
For example, who came up with the whole, you have to have 2Million plus YouTube hits, 300,000 plus twitter followers. What part of the game is this? Who came up with it? SMH-(This concept has yet to work. Meaning, how does an artist have 12million views, single comes out, the artist does only 150,000 records) they have to go back to signing talent because they are dope, not how many views!
Can someone help with this? Big 3 scary!!!! And it's gonna get smaller! Trust me, I'd give it about 3-5 years, it's gonna become the big 2.
Artists and managers are forced to get creative; figure how to do it on their own-i.e., getting a ballplayer, real estate cat to see the vision, finance the vision, like Drake, and now Tyrese did, and they won. Tyrese is really winning, I love his theory!
Total album sales for 2011 ended on the positive side of the ledger for the first time since 2004. Do you expect the trend to continue or are we witnessing a temporary anomaly?
Hey, Adele in my opinion is a huge reason for the positive side of things. She's 9 Million in the U.S. and 21 Million Worldwide, haven't seen sales like this since the early days of Eminem and the early days of Michael Jackson. In this climate of I-Tunes, and lackluster sales, she's revitalized the game!
To answer your question, I think it's the rollercoaster theory, you just never know. For instance Beyonce is used to selling 3 to 3.5 million in her sleep, this album just made platinum. The business is a fickle one in these days.
As a long time veteran in the business what do you do to stay ahead of the pack?
After my 22 yrs now, I try and surround myself with the youth similar to how Andre Harrell did with Uptown Records; Diddy was 17 or 18 when Uptown was on fire. The youth is current on everything from technology, social media, and they keep me young. I always listen to their opinions, and balance it with my knowledge, because they are the present, and the future, so I surround myself with the youth. I also surround myself with smart and innovative people.
I try and find talent be it producers, songwriters, and artists who bring something fresh and new to the game; someone who generates people who want to copy them, like Adele, for instance. I try to stay away from the talent that is doing what is already being done over and over.
Again, Shanica Knowles is a black, young 21 year old, who loves Sarah McLaughlin, Fly Leaf, Alanis Morrisette in her car CD changer where as the norm for an urban girl her age, it would be R&B and hip hop music. Not taking anything from that is awe inspiring to me, but for her to be excited about the other genre and she plays guitar, I feel makes her special.
Is it still mandatory for writers to have a commercial discography in order to be considered for a pub deal with Notting Hill?
Yes indeed, as I mentioned in my previous interview almost 3 yrs ago and as in mentioned in earlier conversations, we use to sign whatever we thought was hot. But now times have changed, in the business of publishing, we now look for writers, or producers who have something charting and selling. Today the question from me and any other publisher is who is the artist your song is placed on, what's your percentage on the song, and more importantly, is the song out yet? This gives us a realistic picture of what success the Artist/Record is having, which is what makes it easy to determine whether us as a company is interested, and/or how much money we want to do a deal for.
For the producer and/or songwriter that is unsigned and have a couple of releases under their belt what is the advantages to signing to Notting Hill as oppose to a Bug Music or Sony/ATV?
LOL, well, of course I'm gonna big my company up. To be honest all the companies that you mentioned are great companies, but I will say that Notting Hill being an Independent company, self- owned, I feel we have the ability to focus more on registering songs quickly and on a day to day basis. Also being one on one with all clients, really get to know each and every song in our catalog.
By us being independent we have to register asap in order to assure we are generating the money we just paid out to a producer or writer comes back to us.
I hear stories all the time where someone says, I'm with this huge publishing company and do you know, I did a hit record on blah blah and they say I'm still un- recouped. 9 out of 10 complaints are always- the company forgot to register the song 6 yrs or however many years ago. I will have to assume that again smaller companies can't afford to miss a registration. We sign you today, tomorrow your joints are registered, but I do understand when a larger company has thousands on top of thousands of songs, some things will tend to slip thru the cracks.
On the other hand, some people feel more secure with a big boy company. I guess there is no right or wrong and it's about which company or person running the company, you feel comfortable and at home with!
How has the PMP been useful in regards to scouting for new possible clients?
PMP is an incredible tool and has been great to me as it goes by people reaching out to me. When I'm in New York, Canada, London, and in Miami, people are like, how can I get down with you, how can I get down with Nottinghill, because I saw your PMP article 3 yrs ago and was inspired about the business. That bugs me out. I'm like wow, the power of PMP over 3 years later people still track me down, walk up to me on the streets, at panels and say, Man loved your article on PMP!!! You guys have been a great outlet for me and I'm sure many others! I thank you.
Since we last spoke has the importance of synch licensing revenue increased and what can producers and writers do to expand their monetary opportunities?
Yes indeed, Synch licensing is a beautiful thing and can be very lucrative. To give you an example on a high end, and a low end, one of our legendary writer/producer did a song by The Whispers over 20+yrs ago, I'm sure he would have never imagined it, but we get a call from Chrysler saying "hey we want to use that song for 30 seconds for our new campaign... licensing fee 7 figures" crazy. Also 'Don't Cha' by the Pussycat Dolls generated millions. On the low end of things, my client Shanica Knowles bagged a song in the Charlie's Angels TV series and unexpectedly got $5,000.00 for that licensing fee so it could definitely be a great additional cash cow.
Also to answer your question in regards to what else writers and producers can do to make dough: 1) Try getting songs placed with artists 2) Get your work in a movie, TV show, video games, commercials, Ringtones, Ringbacks, Performance Royalties-(BMI,SEASAC, ASCAP, SOUNDEXCHANGE).
In recent times we've witness the growing trend for DJ's on commercial and satellite radio to spin mixtape/promotional records. Is the publishing for these records handled the same way as a commercial release record?
No not at all. Promotional records and Mixtapes are considered mostly free goods, meaning give-aways. Although we still register the songs, we don't get publishing because there is no money generated from them. However sometimes if it's a song on a popular mixtape, for example, Chris Brown initially had Deuces as a mixtape song; you can generate dough from airplay here, and worldwide, if it's playing on the radio.
What can we all do as part of the greater music community to make it a healthier more viable business both creatively and financially?
I'd start by saying, what you guys are doing as PMP is a viable part, putting creative producers/writers together, allowing people the ability to network and connect with one another.
Most importantly, I also feel that many labels and their A&R's can help make for a healthier business. Also, if they would open up and allow the next generation the chance to submit songs, artists, or whatever, and less of the brother, cousin, best friend from high school mentality, meaning that if they start giving the kid with those incredible beats, artists, or songs, a chance, and less of the "IN" because you're my cousin formula, the business could potentially be a more healthier one. Don't get me wrong if your cousin got heat let's go, if he don't, don't alienate that cat who do, just because he's not in the circle. With that mentality, I feel music will be healthier again. Artists will start selling more, labels will continue to grow, not shrink. You can blame Apple-(I-Tunes) all you want, but it starts with good music and good business models again!
What does it take for someone to start their own publishing company and would you advise doing so in 2012?
Most importantly, what it would initially take is money to be able to sign things, get a small staff, have a good ear, a great team of publishing bounty hunters/soldiers who are in the streets, clubs, studios, in the cities and worldwide, paying attention to the releases, charts, and having great relationships with writers, managers, lawyers, who can guide you to that new Lex Luger, Claude Kelley, Ester Dean, Tish, Hitbangaz and Frontrunnaz of the game.
And absolutely I would highly advise starting your own company if you have the right funding to sign the right signings. At the end of the day, publishing will always be around even if record companies all disappeared. There will still always be television and film opportunities, someone to administer/collect your Royalties worldwide on songs, commercial opportunities, etc.
The crazy part is, you could, for starters, just do what we call one-offs where you look for a deal based on one song at a time; much more affordable than trying to do full out deals. Example: you take a song like Umbrella by Rhianna, you do that one song, and that one song has generated upwards of 4 million plus over the years. That would be my model.
You do a few of those type records with international success, you living!!
Any last advice to the producers, writers and artists that are reading this interview?
I'd say keep dreaming, keep doing what you believe in and never take no for an answer. People will hate; try and tear your dreams apart. If you fall down, get back up, dust your knees off and keep going. Be honest with yourself, if what you have is not as good as or better than the superstar artist, go back and fine tune 'til its right. Real stars are not built overnight, it's the writers, producers, and artists who got doors slammed in their faces numerous amounts of times that have a long career! A slammed door will make you better!!! Keep dreaming!!
P.S. I know I'm long winded on here but I just love giving people my 22 yrs of the game and guess what, it's a free game!
By the way my book is coming soon- "The Truth about the Music"
Livio Harris-CEO of Who's Harris Entertainment/Management V.P. Of Notting Hill Music Publishing Co-CEO of It Was All A Dream Film/TV Production
Livio Harris- CEO Who's Harris ENT. firstname.lastname@example.org "It Was All A Dream, But Now Reality"