Tree Vibez Music General Manager Leslie DiPiero was recently announced as one of this year’s MusicRow Rising Women On The Row honorees. MusicRow will feature Q&As with each of this year’s six honorees leading up to the event. MusicRow’s Rising Women on the Row for 2018 also includes Faithe Dillman, Becky Gardenhire, Lynn Oliver-Cline, Annie Ortmeier, and Janet Weir.
At Tree Vibez Music, which was launched by Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, DiPiero oversees all day-to-day operations, as well as big picture planning for the company, including signing and developing talent and strategizing opportunities for the company. DiPiero’s career stops have included Buddy Killen Music, Beckett Music Group, Tom-Leis Music, and Advanced Alternative Media.
MusicRow caught up with DiPiero to discuss her music industry career, and advice she has for industry newcomers. MusicRow Magazine’s sold-out Rising Women On The Row event will be held Tuesday, March 27 at Omni Hotel Nashville.
MusicRow Magazine: You joined Tree Vibez Music last year as General Manager. What appealed to you most about Tree Vibez?
Leslie DiPiero: Brian and Tyler, they are amazing people and talents and their passion for the writers that they sign, and just their whole outlook on wanting to truly take care of people and nurture new talent. They put their own money and time behind their roster.
You signed Corey Crowder, Daniel Ross (in conjunction with Big Machine Music) and RaeLynn (in conjunction with Warner/Chappell Music) shortly after joining Tree Vibez. How did those signings come about?
Daniel had been writing with the guys on the Tree Vibez bus for several months, just to see if they were all going to gel. Around that time, Tree Vibez had a changing of the guard at the company and Daniel was never signed. I came on board and he was taking a few meetings at other publishing companies. Fortunately one of those meetings was with Big Machine Music. Big Machine is such a great company, so Tyler, Brian, Mike Molinar and I just sat down and worked it out, within the first two weeks I was on board.
With RaeLynn, we were all such fans of her music, that when we heard she was looking for publishing deals, it was a no-brainer if we could make it happen. We had a talk with [Warner/Chappell’s] Ben Vaughn, and he was really excited about working with Tree Vibez, and then we heard that all the majors were looking at Corey Crowder and there were really big deals on the table at that time. Corey was just about ready to make a decision and really, Daniel and RaeLynn and Corey all bought into the vision we shared for this company. That speaks volumes for Tyler and Brian.
How do you describe the Tree Vibez vision?
It’s a complex of creativity. The songwriters’ deals are extremely generous. Tyler’s and Brian’s career went from zero to 60 fast and nothing makes them happier than to take their big torch and tip it over and light more candles. They want other people to have as big of flames as they have.
They are so about nurturing and giving back and I think they got that a lot from their mentor Craig Wiseman. Creativity comes first and they want people to know there is freedom. There isn’t this immediate, ‘If you aren’t getting cuts and having No. 1 songs the first year you are out of here’ thing. It’s very family-based, creative-based, and higher power-based.
What lessons did you learn during your time at Buddy Killen and Tom-Leis?
At Buddy Killen Music, my female heroes in town taught me, and I tried to learn by example. I remember walking into rooms where you would just watch Frances Preston and how she spoke to songwriters. I would sit outside the door of Robin Palmer’s and Celia Froehlig’s offices, and I would listen to them speaking to songwriters and learn how they did deals.
In 2013, you were part of opening management company Advanced Alternative Media. What career lessons did you take from your time at Tom-Leis and Buddy Killen that helped you open AAM?
I was with Tom-Leis for almost 17 years and they are such patrons of the arts. They said, ‘We don’t have to make millions, just make your numbers and have integrity and you’ll be here a long time.’ They were angels not only in my life, but angels to artists and writers like Sarah Buxton and Brandon Kinney. Sarah had a deal on Lyric Street for about five years before anything came out and the investors were like just like, “Make sure the music’s right. We don’t want her to have pressure.” Similarly, now with Brian and Tyler, they put songwriters and the music first. They are not bean counters; they feel they should just take care of their people.
AAM was an amazing experience, and it made me realize how much I missed the Nashville publishing community. Then I got the phone call to be interviewed for Tree Vibez Music. Brian and Tyler and I went to [Nashville restaurant] Taco Mamacita and sat in a booth for about an hour and we were like, “Okay. This is crazy. We all have the same outlook, so let’s do this.”
As songwriting has incorporated more tracking, how has that affected the song plugging and publishing side of the industry?
It is faster, and in the last four or five years, when we opened the [Advanced Alternative Media] office in Nashville four years ago, no one really knew what a track person or what a top liner was. Here we are five years later, and most writes are co-writes. Publishers prefer are to have the artist in the room, a track person in the room, and an extra fabulous songwriter in the room, so you have a trifecta each day. The artist and the songwriter leave after the session is done, and the track person has to spend several hours working on the demo, so that’s the process that has gone on. It’s interesting how that has changed since I first came here. Publishing splits may change because you have a track writer doing so much extra heavy lifting after a writing session happens. Then if the song gets cut, you have the producer who is working on the song with the artist asking the track writer for what are called stems, so it’s a very interesting time because writers, producers, and track people are not always getting the compensation they deserve for the extra work they are doing.
Do you see that changing?
The splits are even until we collectively decide they shouldn’t be. I feel personally once a song is recorded, if there is a different producer working on it, that the writer-producer should be compensated. But Nashville has not as a whole agreed to that yet.
What advice do you have for young women just getting started in the music industry?
Learn about the women that were here before you. The era that you are in now is not about you; it’s about something bigger. It’s an honor to serve the creative community. When you don’t get along with others, it disrespects the women that came before you.
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