Sometimes the cosmos provides a signpost of what road to take next. When it comes to Amy Eligh’s career journey, that’s the case. A combination of divine intervention, a health issue, and an inspirational lecture added up to her chosen vocation as a music publisher.
Flash back more than 12 years. Eligh, then a Humber College student majoring in jazz performance, dreamed of a professional music-making career. Her chosen instrument: the trombone. After graduating, she discovered she had TMJ Syndrome – a disorder that causes pain in the jaw joint, and in the muscles that control jaw movement. Her dream of a performing career no longer an option, she wanted to stay in the field of music. While she struggled with what path to choose next, she enrolled in the Music industry Arts Program at Fanshawe College.
“My first week at Fanshawe, Professor Terry McManus talked about publishing, telling me that it was all about the song; he explained that it’s the first step in a long career for an artist,” says Eligh. “I found that extremely attractive, because I get to be there right at the beginning – when it’s just an idea – and work closely with a songwriter to create something amazing.”
Following this epiphany, the second sign occurred when Fanshawe alumnus Angela Fex (now Manager, Client Services, at FACTOR) lectured at the college between Eligh’s first and second year. Says Eligh: “After this lecture I said to her, ‘I want to get into publishing, and want an internship. What do I need to do?’”
Fex suggested Eligh contact Ed Glinert at Casablanca Media Publishing. An internship followed, along with a full-time job after graduation in 2005. “Casablanca gave me a job offer in September,” says Eligh. “Right after my internship finished, and just as I was starting second year. But they said I could start in May, when I graduated. I felt fortunate that I had work in the field that I wanted to be in.”
About 12 years after graduating, Eligh has carved out a successful career in music publishing. She spent almost all of those years with Casablanca Media/Red Brick Songs, where she rose from working in copyright/royalties as a co-ordinator — handling data entry and dispute resolution — to the Director of Synch & Creative Services. Six months ago, she moved to the Arts & Crafts music label to head up their publishing and licensing. FACTOR also recently appointed Eligh to sit on its Board of Directors.
The move from Casablanca to Arts & Crafts was the hardest decision she’s had to make in her career to date, but the time felt right to move on. While at Casablanca, she learned the profession from Jana Cleland and owner Jennifer Mitchell (who currently sits on SOCAN’s Board of Directors).
“Jana and Jennifer were integral to mentoring me all the way up,” says Eligh. “I was fortunate to be in a company where I had a lot of freedom to challenge myself, and move freely… I didn’t have a lot of restrictions. There was a lot of fostering of new ideas and they allowed for a lot of growth.
“I got into this business to help artists grow and succeed, and to grow with them.”
“Switching jobs was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life,” she adds. “Red Brick raised me, all my friends are there, and I love their roster, which I had a hand in growing. After 12 years with an amazing company, though, it was time to shift gears.”
While at Casablanca/Red Brick Songs, Eligh was involved in many rewarding TV synch placements. Highlights include an ad for Canadian Tire, one for Interac featuring AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” and a synch for the Boats song “Advice on Bears,” on the Cameron Crowe comedy-drama series Roadies.
Over the years, the music-publishing executive has also helped arrange showcases for artists in Los Angeles and New York, and hosted songwriting camps for her roster of stars.
Part of the allure of Arts & Crafts was the unique opportunity it presented to see how the label and management sides of the industry work. One of the successful synchs she’s arranged in the first six months at her new workplace was for Lowell (“War Face” in Episode 1401 of Grey’s Anatomy). This past November, she also put on a private showcase in L.A. for Taylor Knox and Cold Specks for music supervisors, film directors, and movie editors.
As she reflects on her growing career, the reasons that Eligh became a music publisher following her graduation from Fanshawe haven’t changed. And she still loves every minute of it.
“I got into this business to help artists grow and succeed, and to grow with them,” she says. “Every time I work with a new songwriter I learn something new. My dad always said, the minute you stop learning in a job, or a field, is when you need to leave – because you never know everything about your job.
“I bounce out of bed every day at 6:30 for my one-and-a-half hour commute, and it doesn’t feel like work. I mean, we’re in the music industry. How much better can it get?”