In November 2017, BMI announced that Mason Hunter had been tapped for the role of Assistant VP, Creative, working closely with Nashville’s VP, Creative, Jody Williams. Hunter joined BMI in 2000.
The announcement was also part of a company-wide rebranding of BMI’s Writer/Publisher Relations departments, now named the Creative Department.
“It better reflects what our jobs are and what we’ve evolved into,” Williams tells MusicRow. “We are just formalizing what we’ve been doing for three years. Mason came into our department from the licensing department. He has been great at finding partners for our events that we were producing and better organizing them for us and for our affiliates. He came in and he knows the creative community and he understands events and sponsorships, so he knew how to communicate with sponsors so we can get support for our events.”
Hunter and Williams say that finding new outlets for their songwriters, both creatively and financially, has become a top focus for the performing rights organization in recent years.
“From the creative side, we are finding opportunities for our writers outside of our traditional airplay,” Hunter says. “That will always be our core business, but as we have evolved, and as the songwriters’ careers have evolved, we look for new ways to promote them. It doesn’t have to be a performing songwriter—it might be a networking opportunity or a way for us to get their music in front of a certain brand. If you are a performer there are many performance opportunities. That’s what I usually say that’s the big differentiator between us and the other [performing rights organizations]. If you are a songwriter looking outside of the traditional, we provide avenues for that.”
“We still have a fantastic group of writer reps, including Bradley Collins, Leslie Roberts, David Preston, MaryAnn Keen, and Josh Tomlinson, whose jobs it is to look out for the best most talented writers we can represent and get them to sign with BMI. That is our core business and that will never go away,” Williams adds. “The sponsorships and events are the flag we wave that we can offer them to make it easier for them to decide to come to BMI.”
In recent years, BMI has partnered with several festivals and performance events to create opportunities for their songwriters, including the Maui Songwriters Festival, SXSW, and most recently, with the Rooftop On The Row concert series that launched in 2017, as well as Speed Dating for Songwriters with YouTube and a Next Big Wave Songwriter Mixer. There is also BMI’s popular, long-running partnership with the Key West Songwriters Festival.
“We are making sure we are keeping our eyes on the ball of why we exist—to send out money four times per year to writers and publishers—and do it as smartly as we can do it,” Williams says. “Events and partnerships is another suite of offerings we equip our writer reps with. If you can offer up more than the traditional co-write, which we will always do, and if you operate where you have other opportunities, which helps, you have the ability to do some things outside of a traditional PRO,” Williams says.
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