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The vital role of music publisher BDi Music

Within today’s competitive and ever-evolving music industry, where the way listeners consume their music has completely transformed, one often overlooked but crucial player in the industry is the role of a music publisher.

Their role cannot be overstated, they're the unsung heroes of the industry, as they work behind the scenes on behalf of songwriters and composers to ensure they collect and pay out all the royalties they earn from their compositions.

The work that music publishers undergo is multifaceted.

Simply, music publishers collect royalties from live performances, physical copies of a song and the song broadcast across adverts or films, by safeguarding the rights of their clients and enabling them to profit from their creative work.

However, the role goes way beyond financial transactions; it encompasses maximising revenue streams, connecting opportunities to artists, providing creative support and offering a global audience to the music being produced.

Without the expertise and dedication of music publishers, many talented creators would struggle to navigate the complexities of the industry.

Therefore, recognising the indispensable role of a music publisher is crucial for artists to view music as a viable and sustainable career.

One of those music publishers, whose unwavering commitment towards their artists is admirable, is the award-winning independent business BDi Music.

BDi represents songwriters, composers and TV production companies with deals tailor-made for individual creative talent.

Their highly reputable and valuable catalogue includes 35 co-written songs with Ed Sheeran, as well as a diverse range of international artists, including Camilla Cabello, Major Lazer, Tom Grennan and All Time Low.

Established In 2004 by Sarah Liversedge, who has created a thriving, multi-million-pound business that garnered a Grammy Award, three Ivor Novellos, BAFTA, RTS and Kerrang Awards over its 19 years of operation.

Sarah’s commitment to the industry is highly commendable as she tirelessly develops the careers of unbeatable, innovative and creative Artists, Producers and Songwriters.

GigPig spoke to Sarah about the ethos of BDi Music, she said: “I initially set up BDi as a media music publishing company, because back then I worked with composers, in film and TV across the BBC.

“I had also been working with many independent TV production companies, so it felt very natural for me to set the BDi up as a media publisher because my skills had been very media-based back then.

“The ethos at the time of setting up was to acquire rights and to protect my composer's interests - so it's about being passionate about what your composers are creating.

“The ethos never changed as I’ve always been passionate about the music that we represent, working very hard, and grafting is extremely important.

“Being a music publisher, you've got to be across absolutely everything that you represent, so I would say that my ethos is to be passionate about the music that you represent.”

The Independent Music Publishers Forum outlined this year that the independent music publishing sector was valued at £1.8 billion in 2021.

The data highlights the sector coming through the pandemic, showing an increase from £1.7 billion in 2020, now boasting a collective market share of 27.1% of the whole industry.

In total, the global music publishing market was worth £6.67 billion in 2021, with the delays to the data being linked to the process by which royalties are collected and distributed across the world.

For the past 19 years, BDi has remained a proudly independent business to ensure they can closely work, develop and nurture their songwriters.

When asked about this, Sarah said: “I'd always had a yearning to have my own company to be independent, it’s extremely liberating, where I can just do whatever I want, and I can plan and design my company to how I wanted it to be.

“We're also a family company, we are a sister company with Bucks Music Group, which I'm the co-director of too, and that's my husband's empire.

“We want our clients to feel when they sign that they're part of our family, and that's really important to us.

“Our clients really benefit from us being independent is that they get to talk to the bosses, which I think if you're signed to a big company, there's a high chance you'll never even meet the boss.

“In our setup, they know me and Simon, as well as knowing their point A&R person, and also it's about having that day-to-day contact, hands-on approach, which is really important.

“We want them to be talking to us every day, we want to know what they're up to, we want to know if they need our help or support in every situation.

“Also what's important is if they have a query, then we deal with it quickly, we don't want our writers to worry about things, and we want to lift those burdens off their shoulders and help them.

“It's a very open-door policy that we have.”

BDi boasts a massively impressive trophy cabinet after receiving a Grammy Award for Amy Wadge’s writing share on ‘Thinking Out Loud’ by Ed Sheeran.

The company additionally holds three Ivor Novello Awards and a BAFTA, where Sarah has recently received a Doctorate in Music as well as an Ivors Academy Gold Badge award and a Women in Music Roll Of Honour.

Speaking about the accolades they have received alongside the importance of having successful businesswomen in music, Sarah added: “I think hard work is very key to any of this success, but I do think most people have their lucky moments too.

“The first big moment was winning an Ivor Novello - there are so few independent companies that have won an Ivor Novello award, so I feel very proud that we've won three now, that was quite a turning moment.

“The other obvious in terms of service was in 2016 winning a Grammy with ‘Thinking Out Loud’.

“That was a massive moment and something that I don't think any of us had thought would be part of our lives in terms of accolades.

“Working with Ed Sheeran, Amy Wadge and also Jake Gosling during that period where Ed was on the rise, it was all very exciting.

“I've got the Women in Music Award Roll of Honour, which is very important, and if you'd asked me 10 years ago about women running independent music publishers, I wouldn't have even been able to think of a handful.

“So things are progressing, and my responsibility is to encourage and support the women that I work with, because it's very male-dominated, and I think there's a different confidence from men.

“I think women are getting much better at it, but there's a long way to go in terms of improving things.

“I hope in time there won't need to be women in music awards, I hope everything's equal and we don't have to be pushing our heads above the parapet to shout about what we do and to be recognised.

For artists who are looking to get recognised by A&R’s for publishing companies, GigPig asked Sarah for her golden nugget of advice, and what she looks out for in emerging artists, she said: “I'm always looking for that uniqueness in artists, in terms of if they've got a great stage presence.

“They've got to know who they are as an artist, and over the years, I've learned that myself in terms of who I'm signing, they've got to be the ones that initially believe in themselves, and I've got to believe in that.

“I'm also looking at whether they’re great songwriters, and do they write great songs, if they don't and they've got potential there, then I would always then hook them up with other co-writers and other producers to try and work on their songs a bit more.

“But initially, I'm looking for uniqueness, as I don't follow the crowd, I'm very much about doing what I believe in.

"I don't care what is trending in the charts, I want my team and me to be signing stuff that feels fresh and unique on your own terms and from the heart.

“In terms of advice, believe in yourself, and believe in your music.

“Whether it's songs or compositions, don't let people put you down, just keep moving forward, and eventually you will get those opportunities.

“So just try to keep your tunnel visual on who you are as the artist, and be as unique as possible.”