10 Years in the U.S. and Counting…
Their West Hollywood-based offices nestled at the end of the vibrant Sunset Strip may be modest, but the U.S. arm of The Notting Hill Music Group Limited is home to a coveted group of songwriters and popular songs. Upon walking inside, one is immediately met with a montage of plaques that represent Notting Hill’s ownership in 25,000 plus copyrights. That list consists of songs performed by some of the most important artists from the last decade: Beyoncé (including hits from her multi-platinum solo debut Dangerously in Love), Nelly (“Air Force Ones”), the Pussycat Dolls (the global smash “Don’t Cha”), Pitbull (“International Love”), OutKast (songs from Speaker Boxxx/The Love Below), Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Juelz Santana, TLC, B2K, FloRida, Snoop Dogg, Rihanna, and the list goes on.
This past year Notting Hill scored major in the U.S. with songs released by Arianna Grande featuring Big Sean, Calvin Harris, Kelly Rowland, TGT, Chris Brown and Tank, plus music in the Black Nativity film.
Notting Hill is a truly international music publishing operation, based in London and Los Angeles, with first-class representation in every corner of the globe. Founded in 1990 as the international repertoire division of the Japanese Nippon Television Music Corporation, it became The Notting Hill Music Group following a successful management buyout in 1993. It has rapidly become one of the world’s leading independent music publishers.
Heading the company’s U.S. base are Sebek Sanyika, Executive VP, U.S. Operations, and Livio Harris, Executive VP, Creative. Both work closely and report to Notting Hill Music Chairman Andy McQueen, who travels frequently from London to Los Angeles in order to oversee the entire operation. Livio Harris joined the company in 1994 as a consultant, when Will Smith was one of Notting Hill’s biggest clients. At the time, a majority of Notting Hill’s initiatives were coming directly out of the UK. In 2003, Notting Hill cemented its presence stateside and opened its offices in the U.S.
As EVP of Operations, Sebek Sanyika is the glue that holds the Notting Hill machine together. “Our 10 year anniversary is a testament to what hard work, passion and tireless dedication will achieve,” she says. “This milestone celebrates the incredible talent and triumphs of our writers, producers and artists along with our team of highly-devoted personnel. Our 10 year mark is a starting point for even higher achievements to come.”
Many of the company’s successes stateside have come in the form of R&B, Hip-Hop and Urban Pop songs—and from such seasoned writers and/or producers as L.T. Hutton, Lonny Bereal, SoulShock, Mike City, LES, Francci, Leon Sylvers III and Taura Stinson.
“Urban is essential to us,” says McQueen. “It’s also the benefit of having Livio with the company and all of the wonderful work he has done. He recommends which writers to sign and we’re certainly not stuck in one specific musical genre. We sign a lot Rock and Pop music as well but the Urban genre has been fantastic for us.”
Notting Hill prides itself on maintaining a small and tight-knit roster—which according to Livio Harris is about 50 active writers/producers. “It’s important that we have a personal relationship with each of our writers,” he says. “They know I can be reached anytime, day or night. The bigger companies have so many people, but for me it’s about focus and maintaining a family environment, and taking the time to develop our writers. I want our writers to feel like they are more than just clients.”
Notting Hill, like so many companies, has made adjustments for the shifting tides in the music business. They are constantly looking for added ways to grow their business. “Certainly video game revenues have been good,” says McQueen. “Sync opportunities continue to be good as well. But it’s really an amalgam of all the digital resources ranging from Spotify and Rhapsody to Pandora that are all very small contributors. When you add them together they start to make sense.”
Looking forward, McQueen, Sanyika and Harris are quite optimistic about the company and the next 10 years. One of Notting Hill’s properties is its UK-based recording label, Transmission Records—home to a diverse roster of international Rock, Pop and Dance artists. The label is expected to make its launch in the U.S. sometime during 2014. “It’s an exciting and vital part of our expansion,” says Harris.
As for the publishing arm, Harris expects to tighten up the roster and get even more focused about the direction of Notting Hill. “It’s important I keep my ears to the street, and continue to sign great writers and producers who I believe are the next wave of successful music creators. With Andy and Notting Hill’s blessings, I recently signed on some new songwriter-production teams that I feel have a great deal of potential: the Hitbangaz, the Frontrunnaz and Grinehouse.”
Internationally, Notting Hill has been a leader in the Electronic Dance Music/Dance Pop field for most of its 20 years. The recent hits the company has experienced in America with Calvin Harris and others are very encouraging, according to McQueen. “Two years ago that wouldn’t have been possible. As for where I see music going…we hosted a barbecue recently when I was in Los Angeles. The purpose was to introduce some of the EDM writers to our urban writers so they can write and make records together. I’m dying to hear what comes out of it.”
McQueen, like Harris and Sanyika, has gotten to know his many writers personally. Amalgamation asked him what general advice he would offer to songwriters and producers at large. “Be honest and remain true to yourself,” McQueen states. “Don’t be something you are not. If you like what you hear on the radio then you’re already six months too late. Pay attention to detail. You must keep an open mind to shifting styles and progress. This is a fast and evolving business and the best writers are the ones who can adapt and grow with it.”
“With a vibrant arsenal of talent on roster and ears to the ground for new additions to our team combined with our incredible passion for the music industry, Notting Hill Music truly has no limits to where it will go. By expanding licensing in the digital world coupled with new film, television and mixed media opportunities; forging new co-publishing and administrative partnerships…The Future is ours! “ (Sebek Sanyika, Executive VP, U.S. Operations, The Notting Hill Music Group)
Meet some of Notting Hill’s Hitmaking Songwriters & Producers
FRANCCI (Francesca Richard) is a U.S. and international songwriter and producer. Her credits include songs performed by Fergie featuring, Q-Tip (from the Great Gatsby soundtrack, “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody”), Carly Rae Jespsen, JoJo, Keyshia Cole, Charlie Wilson, Patti Labelle, Peter Andre (UK), and Adina Howard. Francci is currently working with producer GoonRock (LMFAO, Fergie/Great Gatsby single). Francci specializes in R&B, Hip Hop, Pop and Dance.
FRONTRUNNAZ (Chris & Dria) along with Grammy-winning producer S1 are co-executive producers on a new project by Torsha Lynn. The Frontrunnaz are also developing a cappella girl group “BLS.” Their credits include collaborations with Cool & Dre, The Renegades, Symbolyc One, SoulShock, Ryan Leslie, IllMind, The Mekanics, The HitBangaz, Nizzy, JR Rotem and Porter Robinson. Frontrunnaz specialize in Pop, R&B, DubStep, Electronic/House, Hip Hop and Neo-Soul.
GRINEHO– USE (Dashawn White & David “Davix” Foreman) consists of both songwriters and producers that have spawned four No. 1 singles and No. 2 albums on Japanese Artist A.I., alongside the Hitbangaz. When working collectively (Grinehouse/Hitbangaz), they are known as Fifty1Fifty. Recent signees to Notting Hill, Grinehouse has collaborated with producers Mario Winans, Timbaland, Keyshia Cole, T.I., Kirko Bangz and Ashlee Simpson, to name a few. GrineHouse specializes in R&B, Hip Hop, Pop, & EDM.
HITBANGAZ (Damario Lashine & Carlos Jenkins) are credited with four No. 1 singles and two No. 1 albums on Japanese recording star A.I. That experience allowed them to work with the prestigious Jackson family. Their credits include collaborations with Rodney Jerkins, SoulShock, J.R. Rotem and S1, to name a few. Represented by Livio Harris, Hitbangaz are currently developing R&B newcomer, Fletcher, and specialize in R&B, Hip Hop, Pop and EDM.
LONNY BEREAL is an artist, songwriter and producer. His credits include songs performed by Ariana Grande, Jamie Foxx, Chris Brown, TGT, Kelly Rowland, Tank, Dave Hollister, Snoop Dogg, Ginuwine, Fantasia, Tyrese, Tweet, Chanté Moore, Busta Rhymes, B5 and more. Bereal is slated to drop a new solo project in 2014. He’s currently on tour singing with Tank, Chris Brown and TGT. Lonny Bereal specializes in R&B, Hip Hop and Pop.
L.T. HUTTON is another one of Notting Hill Music’s incredible music producers. He recently produced Ashanti’s current single, “I Got It,” featuring Rick Ross. Hutton is also producing the official film based on Tupac Shakur’s life via Morgan Creek Films, and will music supervise the film. Notting Hill will be one of his go-to companies for music. Hutton’s other credits include work with Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Omarion, Bow Wow, and various TV and film projects. Hutton specializes in Hip Hop, R&B and Urban Pop.
MIKE CITY is known as an artist, songwriter, producer and trendsetter. Mike City set the tone for Carl Thomas (“Wish I Never Met Her”). His credits include songs performed by Jamie Foxx, Brandy, Usher, Sunshine Anderson, Dave Hollister, Yolanda Adams, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Young Buck, Rihanna and more. Mike City specializes in R&B, Soul, Hip Hop, Pop, and Dance. His new EP, Mike City Presents the Feel Good Movement, is coming 2014!
SOULSHOCK is a super producer/writer with over 50 million records sold worldwide. His credits include Pitbull & Chris Brown (“International Love”), songs by Usher, Tupac, Sting, Whitney Houston, Mary J Blige, Nicole Scherzinger, JLS, Backstreet Boys, Cheryl Cole, Alesha Dixon and Monica. SoulShock has appeared as an “X Factor” judge internationally and an “X Factor” mentor in the U.S. He specializes in Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop and EDM.
TAURA STINSON is a highly-connected and seasoned songwriter/producer. Her credits include songs for Destiny’s Child, Deborah Cox, Kelly Rowland, Raphael Saadiq, Truth Hurts, Solange, Lisa Stansfield, OutKast, Aura and Paris Hilton. Taura, alongside Raphael Saadiq, was highly involved with music included in the movies Black Nativity and Rio 2. Taura specializes in R&B, Hip Hop, Pop and Dance.