Executive Spotlight: Trevor Gale, Sr. VP, Writer Publisher Relations, SESAC

TrevorHow does it feel going into your 20th year with the performance rights organization?

It’s been a blessing. I get to work with so many talented and amazing songwriters. I think that’s the most impressive thing about my time with SESAC—to be able to assist, encourage, pay and offer advice to so many incredible songwriters.

Name some writers whose development truly impressed you.

There are so many of them that it’s hard to say: [R&B singer/songwriter] Chrisette Michelle, [Grammy-winning producer] Bryan Michael Cox and Angela Hunte (“Empire State of Mind”).  When I first met them, they were all trying to make it happen. They would come into my office saying, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this. Give me a listen.” And now they have these amazing careers. It’s kind of surreal and heartwarming at the same time. It’s their God-given talent and unquenchable work ethic that got them there.

SESAC recently honored Jon Platt at the annual Pop Awards/New York. Talk about the influence and impact that he has had on the industry.

I truly admire and respect Big Jon for his heart, enthusiasm and wisdom for this business. He has an amazing ear for great songs and sees the potential in songwriters long before they mature into hit-makers. I applaud SESAC for bestowing that well-deserved honor on him.

One of SESAC’s other big events is the annual Pre-Grammy Brunch, hosted by producer Bryan Michael Cox.

Those events have been spectacularly important. They have become a go-to destination during Grammy weekend for the urban music community. The environment allows you to walk up and speak with an Alicia Keys, [record mogul] Jimmy Iovine or [BET president] Debra Lee. It has done an amazing job of branding SESAC within the music community as well as the urban sector of the community. I’m hoping we can build upon it going forward.

SESAC has recently announced a number of high profile artist-songwriter signings: Mariah Carey, Shawn Stockman, Green Day, Ke$ha, and others.

Our new emphasis is to take SESAC to the next level. We’ve had new ownership these last three years. They are looking towards the future, which includes the world of digital rights where we will bundle several rights so that songwriters and publishers can have sort of a one-stop shopping experience here at SESAC. They can come to one place and have many of their needs met. I think the acquisition of some marquee names is a part of that process. You want to inspire those up and coming writers to be a part of SESAC. It’s encouraging when they see their idols and mentors signed to the company. It gives us a stronger foothold as we negotiate better licenses at radio and television. It puts us in a better position to do what we’re here to do which is to serve our writers and publishers as best we can.

SESAC has prided itself on being a smaller performance rights org. Does that mean now competing with the other PROs for their numbers?

ASCAP and BMI represent hundreds of thousands of songwriters and publishers. We have not gotten to 40,000 as of yet. We still want to maintain a manageable number of writers. When you are a SESAC member, we can do a number of things for you so that you don’t have to run to five different companies or entities to have your works taken care of. We’re simply broadening the suite of our services.

The acquisitions of Rumble Fish and Harry Fox Agency will certainly put SESAC in that space.

Absolutely! The acquisition of Rumble Fish was a strategic move by ownership to give us the ability to cover writers’ works. Rumblefish is a leading music technology provider, and a market leader in music micro-licensing, YouTube monetization and license verification. Rumblefish licenses music for online video, paying artists royalties for the use of their music. Advertising dollars is what pays for things on You Tube. If it wasn’t for the content then the advertisers wouldn’t be in that space. The HFA deal is not 100% done at this point. However, not only will writers get their performance royalties through us, they can get their mechanical royalties as well. The information and data that HFA has pioneered in getting will be under one roof. That data is only going to help us better serve our writers and we’ll be servicing writers regardless of their PRO affiliation.

Are there some staff members you wish to acknowledge?

We still have our President and COO of SESAC, Mr. Pat Collins. We now have the CEO of SESAC Inc., Mr. John Josephson, and the CFO of SESAC Inc., Ms. Kelli Turner. Their appointments were announced last year. They are the key people in running the day to day operations of SESAC Inc. I also want to acknowledge Mr. Greggory Smith, our Associate Director of Writer-Publisher Relations. He is the face of the company in Atlanta. He’s been with us for a year now and doing a great job down there. tgale@sesac.com