Mike Smith named Global President of Downtown Music Publishing

Mike Smith

Respected British exec Mike Smith has been appointed Global President of Downtown Music Publishing. He will start the new role on September 1.

Smith, who received the prestigious Sir George Martin Award at MBW’s London-based A&R Awards in 2016, most recently served as Managing Director of Warner Chappell Music in the UK, where he oversaw the signings of Liam Gallagher, Dave, J Hus, Celeste and Foals.

His appointment at Downtown not only marks significant news for Smith, but also for Downtown Music Holdings’ (DMH) standing as a multi-vertical music company.

For the past 13 years, Downtown has best known as one of the world’s biggest independent music publishers, led by its founder and CEO, Justin Kalifowitz, and representing talent/catalogs such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Booker T. Jones, George Gershwin, Miles Davis, Hans Zimmer, John Prine, Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco and Jimmy Napes.

Yet in recent years, Downtown – which also owns publishing admin service Songtrust – has started making more of a name for itself in recorded music, particularly in the world of independent artists. Last year it acquired distributor CD Baby and its parent, AVL, for around $200m, while earlier this year it snapped up artist and label services company FUGA for a pricetag that sources suggest was worth upwards of $40m.

Thanks to these and other ventures, Downtown now claims to manage “the single largest independent sound recording catalog in the industry”.

Kalifowitz will continue to oversee all of these businesses, including publishing, as CEO of the Downtown Music Holdings group. London-based Smith, with specific responsibility for Downtown’s global music publishing efforts, will report to Kalifowitz.

Said Kalifowitz: “Since its founding in 2007, we’ve carefully built Downtown Music Publishing, writer by writer, guided by an appreciation for the craft of songwriting, a focus on creative partnership, and a belief that a global music company for the modern era should be rooted in an understanding that the song is a foundational element to everything else in the music business.

“The addition of Mike Smith as Global President of Downtown Music Publishing is in complete alignment with these principles and I know under Mike’s stewardship our publishing business is in the best of hands.

“For as long as I’ve been in the music industry, Mike has set the standard in cultivating strong relationships with some of the most influential songwriters, artists and producers, while also mentoring the next generation of global music executives.”

“For as long as I’ve been in the music industry, Mike has set the standard in cultivating strong relationships with some of the most influential songwriters, artists and producers, while also mentoring the next generation of global music executives.”

Justin Kalifowitz, Downtown Music Holdings

Prior to joining Warner Chappell, Smith was Managing Director of Columbia Records UK and President of Music at two Universal Music UK labels – Mercury Records and Virgin/EMI.

His past signings include Mark Ronson, Calvin Harris, Gorillaz, Damon Albarn, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, and Arcade Fire, while he has overseen deals with Iggy Azalea, Lizzo, Duke Dumont and The Chemical Brothers, among others.

Smith said, “Since my first job in the music industry I have been guided by my underlying love for artists and songwriters. I thoroughly enjoyed the years I spent on the recordings side of the business, but music publishing is where my heart is.

“Downtown’s ability to build a formidable, twenty-first century music publishing company unencumbered by the baggage of the past has made them an impressive and compelling proposition for songwriters and composers, and I am delighted to become part of their vision.”

In May, Downtown acquired UK-based publisher Good Soldier Songs, including the entire publishing catalog of The 1975, for an undisclosed fee. In 2018, the company snapped up another significant UK-based indie publisher in Salli Isaak Songs / Salli Isaak Music Publishing, home to hit songwriters such as Sam Smith collaborator Jimmy Napes and Paloma Faith.

Last week, Downtown once again showed its commitment to music ventures outside of publishing by launching Downtown Neighbouring Rights. Headed by London-based Dean Francis, the unit is responsible for collecting income related to the public performances of sound recordings across the globe.

Downtown also recently announced its expansion into the African market via the acquisition of Sheer Publishing.

Mike Smith is an engaged philanthropist, dedicating his personal time to several non-profit organizations. He is a founding trustee of The Creative Society and a member of the Global Board of Trustees for In Place of War.

Smith is also on the music board of Teenage Cancer Trust, and is currently volunteering as a motorbike courier with The Bike Shed Community Response during the COVID-19 pandemic delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) and respirators to those in need.

In addition, Smith is collaborating with Brian Eno to establish EarthPercent, a music industry charity supporting environmental sustainability organizations.Music Business Worldwide

Related Posts