Last week, Roberto Neri was promoted to a new dual role at Downtown: Executive Vice President, UK, and Head of European Business Development for parent company, Downtown Music Holdings.
The move capped a successful four years for Neri at Downtown. Overseeing the firm’s activity in the UK and other European territories, Neri has spearheaded some of the company’s most notable moves in recent times.
These have included the acquisition of Salli Isaak Music, including the works of UK hitmakers Jimmy Napes – who is behind much of the Sam Smith catalog – and Paloma Faith.
In addition, Neri recently drove a partnership between Downtown and Faber Music, home to songs from the Cats Musical.
Neri joined Downtown in 2015 through the firm’s acquisition of Eagle-i Music.
Here, we ask the British exec five quick-fire questions about his time at Downtown, and his ambitions for the future…
What does you count as your biggest achievement in the past four years and why?
I have had the pleasure to be involved in many successes over the past four years, including helping to build an incredible team here in the UK. Acquiring the Salli Isaak catalogue has certainly been a personal highlight. It was a highly competitive deal and we were chosen not because of price, but because we would be the best home for Jimmy Napes, Paloma Faith, and the other talented songwriters in the deal going forward. This fact is not lost on me or Downtown.
What does you see as the ‘Downtown difference’ versus other scaled publishers (especially the majors!)?
Downtown knows the songs and clients we are fortunate to work with. Our staff to client ratio allows this to happen. This is an important distinction; if you don’t even know what songs you control, how can you possibly be active and creative with them?
I also love the fact that we don’t pass royalties received around the world before paying our clients. Whether received from JASRAC in Tokyo or PRS in London, royalty income goes in the hands of our Songwriters in their next statement.
You moved Downtown out of online rights licensing group IMPEL and into rival organization, ICE. That was a bold move – has it paid off?
Going direct with ICE has enabled us to be paid much quicker, more efficiently, and with less commission deducted. Also, we wanted to ensure we had insight to our data at a high level across DSPs, and this arrangement provides access to ICE’s BI [business intelligence] tools.
We are here to serve songwriters and we want to pay them as quickly and as accurately as possible. Cutting out the middle-people as much as we can helps us achieve this.
Can we expect more international expansion from Downtown in the years ahead?
Yes, but everything we do is carefully considered. Not just for our existing client base, but because we believe it is important to invest in local repertoire and talent, and doing so requires a thoughtful approach that fully considers a local market and how it operates.Music Business Worldwide