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Media Coverage of AIMP organization. Press Run Date - November 3, 2007
Press Outlet - Billboard

AIMP: Support Network

November 03, 2007

By: SUSAN BUTLER

Cathy Merenda, national president of the Assn. of Independent Music Publishers, joined the group about 15 years ago. That was when she also joined Fox Music, which supports the original music assets of Fox's film, TV and cable divisions. She is now Fox Music VP of publishing. Each month, AIMP's Los Angeles and New York chapters hold events where members meet and discuss topics of importance to their members. Merenda, who became AIMP president in January, oversees the board meetings and essentially keeps everyone and everything on track.

Why did you first become involved with AIMP?

I was new to the business. I thought this would be a great place to learn and to meet people. I've found that to be true.

Who can people meet and talk with at AIMP events?

Early on there were publishers, people working at publishing companies, songwriters, people who wanted to break into the music business in any capacity, professionals, lawyers, record company people, managers. Not just publishers. Obviously publishing touches on every aspect of the music business, so [the events] attract all [types of people]. Now we're seeing more self-published people who are releasing their own records; indie publishers are following the same path of indie labels. They want to learn about everything going on. And the pool of indie publishers is getting smaller, so there will be one or two people instead of a company with a staff of 10, 20 or 30.

How many people have attended AIMP events through the years?

The once-a-month luncheons would [draw] a room full of 100 people 15 years ago. It's been pretty consistent since then, 100-150 people at every luncheon. It's always a great networking opportunity. We had our all-time record of 240 people [this month], which was great.

Do people who attend your meetings have a chance to meet and talk with other attendees in addition to listening to the panelists?

A big part of the draw is to see people before and after [the discussion]. People are very open, and the indie publishers collaborate a lot.

What are your members talking about lately during their personal discussions at these events?

In the last six months, there have been a lot of publishing companies merging and getting acquired, so that's always a big topic. Who's losing their jobs, who's going where. People at all levels are [worried about their jobs]. We're definitely a support network.

You've added job listings on the AIMP Web site.

People are definitely using that, posting jobs. There always seems to be jobs there, which is nice.

Have the topics of importance changed over time?

Copyright has been evolving, technology has been evolving. As everything new comes to the forefront, that will be the [topic for discussion]. For the last 10 years, the Internet has been the huge topic. Before that, it was videos. Historically, we have focused on education for new people and more high-caliber panels to bring in the professionals who want to discuss what's new and what's up and coming. Moving forward, we really want to have more high-end [discussions] like valuating and buying catalogs.

In the last six months, what topics have been top priorities?

Section 115 [compulsory license] reform; ringtones, now that [the Copyright Office] has deemed that [compositions used for] ringtones [are subject to the] compulsory license, what that means and will mean for the future ringtone business for publishers; iTunes and how record companies are accounting for [compositions downloaded through] iTunes; how the Harry Fox Agency is working; and always film and TV—our big lunches where we bring in music supervisors and film/TV people from publishers and how that works, which is always a hot topic since more publishers are counting on film and TV to increase their revenue.

How are AIMP board members elected?

Every two years, we come up with names to nominate, send out a ballot and the membership votes.

Why does your board of directors for the Los Angeles and New York chapters include people who aren't indie publishers?

We always like to have [representatives of] the performing right societies on the board because we can tap into what's going on in their worlds. They're very focused on legislation [activities on Capitol Hill]. And they're connected to all the publishers. If we have [representatives of] ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, then we have a connection to every publisher in the U.S. and overseas. Thomas White [and other] consultants are very tapped [into the publishing business]. Linda Newmark obviously works for a major [Universal Music Publishing Group], but she brings the major perspective to our board meetings. We support indie publishers, but it's good to know what the majors are thinking.

What is your vision for the future AIMP?

We want to be the voice of independent publishers, to have more say and visibility. We work alongside the National Music Publishers' Assn. and the Recording Artists' Coalition. They come to us for opinions on things they're putting forth in Washington, D.C. [NMPA president/CEO David Israelite] will come to us with a bill, the board will read it, then go back and forth with them and say "Yes, we'll support it" and say why, or say "No" and why. We want to mean something to independents. There's no other place for independent publishers to go as a group. We've also joined the Copyright Alliance.

How do you plan to expand your membership outside Los Angeles and New York?

We're going to focus on the electronic version of the AIMP so we can hook into everybody who's not represented by a major. We're expanding our Web site. Since we've posted podcasts [of the panel discussions], our membership has increased.

www.billboard.biz

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