Performance rights executives are typically on the front lines when it comes to the development, compensation and advocacy for songwriters’ rights. Wardell Malloy is one such executive. He recently relocated from BMI’s New York office to Los Angeles, the city where BMI recently hosted its annual Urban Music Awards honoring the likes of producer/writers DJ Mustard and Nile Rodgers.
Discuss what professional adjustments you’ve had to make in your recent relocation.
One of my observations is coming to an office that has a defined culture of its own. Through the years I’ve made friendships and had camaraderie with most of the executives here in L.A., which made the transition easier. It’s been pretty seamless. L.A. is definitely more spread out than NYC. I’m learning how to handle my schedule here. In New York, you can easily do four meetings in a day. Out here, you can’t really do that – not if you’re trying to go to the people. You kind of have to let the people come to you. The traffic is crazy. In New York, you can just get on the train or even walk. I’m only two months in so I’m really getting into it.
Which question do songwriters most ask and what is your response?
Before they ask me questions, I like to provide them a road map and insight into some of the workings of the industry, and how to best prepare. I welcome questions from there. A lot of songwriters mostly want to know how to get their music heard and how to get their music placed. There’s really no one answer to that but with the accessibility to digital services and social media, there is a very large platform and greater ability for outreach in the professional creative community.
From where you sit, what is the biggest challenge songwriters face today?
I see it as understanding and navigating the industry – understanding and protecting their rights so that there is respect for their ownership, copyright, creativity and compensation.
How much of your time and effort is spent talking to A&Rs, label execs and music supervisors, and looking for opportunities for your writers?
Ninety percent of my time is spent in the creative world. I’m always talking to my writers and producers. I’m talking with A&Rs, finding out what they are looking for. I deal with lots of music publishers. I like turning them on to new writers and producers. Remember, we get a lot of stuff early so I like to bring A&Rs and publishers into my world early on. I also create opportunities for placements.
BMI recently held its Annual Urban Music Awards, one of the hot industry tickets. How important are these events for your writers?
The award shows are very important. It’s important to give acknowledgement to the creative community. Some happen to be artists, others happen to be songwriters; so it postures and positions them amongst their peers. It also affirms and celebrates the success our writers are enjoying. That success is hard to achieve. It also speaks to the history of BMI as we were the first PRO to have award shows. We also do the “Gospel Trailblazer Awards” and we host the “How I Wrote This Song” event, a great opportunity for writers to network, converse and create collaboration opportunities.
Name 5 emerging BMI writers you’re especially excited about that we should keep our eyes on.
Taylor Parks, her pen game is no joke; Major Myjah, who’s a Warner Bros. recording artist and an amazing vocalist; Ro James, signed to RCA is another; Louis York, which is Claude Kelly & Chuck Harmony; Carlos St. John, a new lyric and melody guy, and artist as well. I could go on… I’m excited about a lot of our young writers. The move to L.A. has really inspired me. It’s the creative hub right now. (firstname.lastname@example.org)