Shawn Marino is new to music publishing but he’s no stranger to the Canadian music scene. The new Vice-President of Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) Canada, Marino has spent his career on the label side of the business: he started as an intern with Polygram Records, then secured an entry-level gig as a publicity assistant upon graduation from York University in 1994. He worked his way into A&R (Artists & Repertoire, the department which signs and develops artists) following the merger of Polygram Records with Universal Music in ’99.
It should come as no surprise then that A&R is a cornerstone of Marino’s strategy as he takes the reins of UMPG Canada. “I’ve been working on a way to creatively integrate the two departments (A&R and publishing),” he says.
“There’s a lot of commonality in the two rosters and we want to make sure that both sides are nurtured. I took over officially in January 2011 and since then we’ve restructured the A&R department on the record side, with a goal to being more of a full-service company for our artists and writers. A&R and publishing are now in the same physical area, so when artists and writers come in everybody gets to know each other. If an A&R guy is working on a record and needs a song, he needs to know who our writers are.”
The integration theme continues on the synchronization (“synch”) licensing side for film and television, with a merging of master licensing (of the recording, handled by Catherine Jones) and copyright licensing (of the song, handled by Diane Lametti). “We’re much more of a one-stop-shop now,” says Marino, “at least in instances where we control both the master and the publishing.
“We also want to be able to show potential signings that the Toronto office of UMPG is an integrated company with UMPG worldwide, and if they sign with us they have the full benefit of the entire group. We want to show them the advantages of our merged synch department and our tightness with the A&R side.”
Marino admits there’s been a slight learning curve when it comes to the nuances of music publishing, but he arrived better versed in copyright than many of his label cohorts. “I have the luxury of having been here for a long time and having known and worked with all the great people who have come and gone,” he says, citing John Redmond, Allan Reid, Linda Bush, J.P. Pineiro, Jodie Ferneyhough and Chris Corless as valuable resources from whom he learned.
Since assuming his new role, Marino has joined the boards of the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) and the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA). Not that he has any empty hours to fill – the current year includes new releases from UMPG Canada writer/artists Hedley, Stephan Moccio, Jann Arden and Sam Roberts, among others. “It’s going to be a busy one,” he predicts.