The hits have kept on coming at Warner Chappell Music. The publishing company is home to writers on some of the year’s most notable songs: for example, Warner Chappell signee Carter Lang, a co-writer on Post Malone & Warner Chappell’s own, Swae Lee’s “Sunflower,” is featured in the animated Spiderman Into the Spider-Verse movie. Writer Cameron Forbes co-wrote the single “Taste,” performed by Tyga featuring Offset. Producer Young Forever Beats is credited on Flipp Dinero’s “Leave Me Alone,” while producer Shun on da Beat is behind Yella Beezy’s “That’s On Me.” Longtime hitmaker/producer T-Minus collaborated with J-Cole on the single, “Middle Child,” and also Young Thug’s newest release, “The London” feat. J. Cole and Travis Scott while producer Tay Keith produced Travis Scott’s hit single “Sicko Mode.” Newly signed producer DY Krazy co-produced Gucci’s Mane’s latest hit “Wake Up In The Sky” featuring Bruno Mars and Kodak Black.
Not to be outdone, artist-songwriter-producer Tayla Parx continues to rack up the songwriting credits with two major hits from Ariana Grande’s Thank You Next album, in addition to top charting records with Panic at the Disco and Janelle Monae. And she’s just scratching the surface.
During the month of May, Warner Chappell Music (WCM) unveiled a new logo and brand identity. The “crown” monogram is a custom-drawn image in the style of a signature to reflect the “individual, personal art of songwriting.” These changes follow the beginning of a new era for the global publishing powerhouse, which recently introduced its new leadership duo of Co-Chair & CEO Guy Moot and Co-Chair & COO Carianne Marshall, and moved into a new HQ in downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District.
In addition, the company announced the promotion of Ryan Press to President of A&R, U.S. Press joined Warner Chappell 10 years ago, and has signed and worked with an array of artists-songwriters: Murda Beatz, Rihanna, Mike Will’s Ear Drummers, Rae Sremmurd, The Dream, Wiz Khalifa, Meek Mill, Priscilla Renea, Lil Uzi Vert, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and dozens more.
MEET THE URBAN MUSIC TEAM
Overseeing the company’s urban music roster are A&R Senior Directors Brandra Ringo and Wallace Joseph. They work hand in hand with Warner Chappell’s seasoned and diverse A&R staff, across genres, all while reporting directly to Ryan Press.
It’s an exciting time for Warner Chappell Music with the numerous changes that have taken place. But the fundamentals of the job remain the same, managing the company’s existing roster of established talent and superstars, all while finding and developing the company’s next crop of hit songwriters and producers. So, what is the A&R team currently looking for? “We’re looking for highly creative, hard-working songwriters/artists we can service and work with, not only from the development stages, but also once they have established themselves in the marketplace. We’re in it for the long-haul and with that comes a strong team setting up key sessions/collaborations, potential feature opportunities and coming together, thinking of new ways to our creatives constantly engaged.
“You may find every kind of writer out there, but what I look for is work ethic,” says Wallace. “At the end of the day that’s what separates you from the next guy. This industry is changing ever so quickly, if you’re not moving or changing with the times, or are lackadaisical about things, there are other writers who are going to fill that void.”
Social media and streaming analytics are vital information for every major company but meeting the people where they are is still an essential part of A&R. “We’re at shows and studio sessions every day, every night, or we’re attending concerts and music festivals,” says Wallace. “We’re finding people in studios, on social media and through word of mouth. Sometimes we’re setting up sessions, where we find out about other writers involved in a record. There’s so many layers and different ways to do this.”
In those layers are the many A&Rs at the various record labels. Both Brandra and Wallace state the importance and value of their longtime relationships with label A&Rs across the industry. “We sit in A&R meetings from time to time, where we’re able to get hands on information right away from what the labels and artists are looking for,” says Wallace. “I’m able to exchange information right away. We were playing music in an Atlantic Records meeting, recently, playing different songs, pitching ideas, A&Rs would take records, some would suggest changes, and get it over to the artists, immediately. It’s still about having good relationships, along with the artists. It’s also important to have a great rapport with the label; sometimes they may have a different vision than what the artist has, so we want to cover all aspects and angles, so we’re able to properly pitch our records.”
“So many of the artists today grow to be self-sufficient,” Brandra continues, “so they may not be looking at the traditional A&R ways for support like they once did. That also gives us an opportunity to work closely with artists and their managers during the beginning stages. However, having relationships inside versus outside of “the building” are equally as important.”
In today’s analytical climate, when is the best time to approach a company like Warner Chappell for a publishing deal? “That’s the main question I get,” says Brandra. “Honestly, there isn’t a blueprint. It’s case by case. Writers sign for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s because they want a creative partner. Sometimes it’s because they’re looking for financial support but most times it’s both. There’s no definitive answer.
“What’s great about working at Warner Chappell and working for a boss like Ryan is that we are the place where songwriters are heard,” Wallace continues. “That’s what matters most. That’s why so many writers want to sign here. We’ve signed some of the best talent over the last year. This is evident, due to our signings of two of the biggest Hip-Hop producers, Murda Beatz and Tay Keith. We’re not just signing writers because they have a hot song or two, we’re signing writers because we’re also looking at the future and creating longtime careers.”