“No one wants to play ‘name that tune’ with me,” says Catherine Jones, Director of Music, Bell Media.
A scan of the music memorabilia in her office – such as the framed black-and-white photograph of a twenty-something Jones with her arm around the late Joey Ramone – is all it takes to not challenge this claim. These days the publisher doesn’t hang with famous musicians as often. Nor does she see many shows. Regardless, her love for music is just as strong as those defining days, many years ago, when she bought her first LP (Saturday Night Fever) and attended her first concert (Tears for Fears).
After 20 years clearing the master use licenses for music owned or controlled by Universal Music Canada, Jones now sits on the opposite side of a licensing deal: She currently represents Bell Media, finding background music to enhance all of its in-house TV productions.
“I’m not managing a roster of composers, I’m managing a catalogue of compositions,” Jones explains. “We commission certain packages of music, similar to a work-for-hire arrangement. We pay for the services, but we own everything. We become the publisher. The writer retains their writer’s share, so they get the back-end royalties.”
“I’m not managing a roster of composers, I’m managing a catalogue of compositions.”
The songs that Bell Media commissions become part of its growing library, which currently numbers around 5,000. Compositions are used, and re-used, on a variety of television shows: from Daily Planet and W5 to news, sports, and pop-culture programs.
A typical day for the corporate publisher includes meeting with producers, searching for composers already in their in-house roster to match their requirements, reaching out to new artists, and reviewing demos the broadcaster has already commissioned.
Jones started in the music business in 1993 as the assistant to the lawyer at Universal Music Canada (then MCA Records Canada). She advanced quickly, assuming responsibility for the label’s nascent licensing business.
“In 1995, I received a phone call from an ad agency who wanted to use the John Lee Hooker song ‘Boom, Boom’ in a Ford commercial,” recalls Jones, who now also oversees licensing for Bell Media. “I reached out to the U.S. office, they said I could do the deal, and that’s how licensing started at Universal [Music] Canada.”
Today, Jones relies on this extensive music industry experience in her new corporate role. “I’m reaching out to a lot of the artists I’ve met over the years and helping them to develop a different career path.”
Nick Fowler is one example. Jones met the New Brunswick musician five years ago at the East Coast Music Awards. Now Fowler has already written several pieces for Bell Media, including the theme song for CTV’s daily talk show The Social.
“When I arrived there were composers that wrote consistently for CTV, and still do, but I’m trying to open it up and bring in new talent,” says Jones.