Building a music publishing company from the ground up is no mean feat, especially without deep, deep pockets. But that hasn’t stopped Jodie Ferneyhough from forging ahead with CCS Rights Management, a company that looks beyond publishing to include the collection and distribution of neighbouring rights income on behalf of its artist/writers. Managing estate rights is another specialty.

Ferneyhough has been building his business for seven years, following his departure from Universal Music Publishing Canada, where he was Managing Director. It’s been a slow build, but Ferneyhough has steadily added songwriter/artists and staff.

The Rights Stuff: New Signings for CCS
Most recently, CCS has signed Canadian blues/rock champ Colin James, former Great Big Sea star Sean McCann, and producer/songwriter Gavin Brown. Notable Western Canadian signings include Saskatoon’s League of Wolves and Vancouver’s Yukon Blonde.

“Our goal at CCS is to consider the artist, not just the songwriter,” says Ferneyhough, “I’m a music publisher, that’s who I am. But the company is steeped in the collection, administration, and distribution of earnings due to our artists, as well as writers. The focus of the company is to be a very strong rights manager.

Neighbouring rights, for instance, are typically left to management, or to the artist themselves to collect,” continues Ferneyhough, “but it’s something that often slips through a crack. I’ve had a number of artists say they take care of their own rights, and I really don’t know how they do it – because I do this full-time, and it gives me a headache on a daily basis! There’s a lot to know, because there are so many moving parts, and changes in territories around the world. It’s my job to protect your asset, so you can focus on creating and performing.”

So how does a small operation like CCS compete with industry giants like Universal, and big indies like peermusic, both of which Ferneyhough has worked for in the past?

“It’s tough,” he says. “It’s really, really tough. There’s a company in the world now that everybody seems to think is magic, and wants to sign with this magic company, and it frustrates the hell out of me.

“One reason artists and writers sign with us is because we’re not a monolith, and we don’t make promises we can’t deliver on. We hold our artists’ hands, we sit down with them regularly, and find out what they need, what their goals are. We’re focused on trying to help them achieve their goals, and introduce them to people in the business who can help take them to the next level.”

“We hold our artists’ hands, we sit down with them regularly, and find out what they need, what their goals are.”

CCS has also landed some significant TV clients like Spin Master Ltd., which produces the wildly successful PAW Patrol, as well as Little Charmers, Tenkai Knights and Hatchimals. To help expand and enhance the company’s work in film and TV is the newest addition to the CCS staff, Synch Manager Sarah Keith.

Ferneyhough has also been travelling, building a network of international sub-publishers in the U.K., Benelux countries, Chile, Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Greece, among others. The CCS President sits on the board of the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA), and on the board of the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP).

“We’re a close-knit bunch,” says Ferneyhough of his fellow music publishers. “We’re obviously competitors, and we keep our cards close to our chests, but we’re friendly. I need their writers, and they need mine, for co-writes, etc.

“The way forward for us is to keep doing what we’ve been doing, taking excellent care of our writers and artists,” says Ferneyhough. “We’re looking now for more established artists who are looking for new opportunities because they’re unhappy with where they’re at. We’ve been cute for the last five or six years, and we’re ready to move up, to bring in more artists, to expand.

“Every copyright means something to us, and as we bring in more rights we’ll bring in more people, and grow the company that way.”