“Technology may have taken on a lot of importance in the rapport between songwriters and their audience, but it would be nothing without that human relationship [between a publisher and a creator], and that’s something I truly believe,” says the French, now Montréal-based, publisher Chrisophe Piot, who heads the publishing company Write Here Music and All Right Music, a neighbouring rights management organization.
“Nowadays, artists and songwriters are more isolated than they used to be, hence the necessity to have a team of close-knit guardians that support them,” he says, not even referring to the period of self-isolation from which we’ve barely begun to emerge. The publisher is, rather, referring to the new challenges publishers must overcome because of the digitization of music.
To Piot, the idea of a team is equivalent to that of a family, “I think of the work of a publisher as a craft,” he says. “Some are comfortable working with catalogues of hundreds of thousands of titles – and I’ve worked for major publishing houses [like that]. But we’re a ‘chic boutique’ with very few creators. We kind of have a relationship with every single song, because we represent a lot less.”
Having spent most of his career in the music publishing world in France, this August Piot will celebrate the second anniversary of his move to Québec, mostly “because of my deep appreciation for Québec itself, but also its enthusiasm and open-mindedness,” he says. “There were also business incentives, since I’ve partnered with people in Montréal since 2004 in a company called Premier Muzik, which is also in the neighbouring rights business.”
Professionally, the publisher has had ties with the Québec music industry since the ’80s; before founding Write Here Music and All Right Music about 15 years ago, he worked in the Parisian offices of MCA Music Publishing, record label Tréma, and then at Warner Chappell. “I worked for the publishing house that represented Jean Leloup around the time of his Menteur album,” says Piot. “We had also signed Robert Charlebois and we were reissuing Félix Leclerc. Later, in the field of neighbouring rights, I signed Natasha St-Pierre, and worked with some of Céline Dion’s songs for publishing. I’ve had ties to local music all through my career.”
“I must say that faithfulness and loyalty are very rare and precious.”
The notions of family and craft are even noticeable in Write Here Music’s repertoire, which represents major electronic artists, especially French ones, such as David Guetta, Agoria, and Air, to name but a few. “Totally, especially when it comes to David Guetta – who I’ve worked with for nearly 20 years. I must say that faithfulness and loyalty are very rare and precious. That’s when you can truly talk of human relationships. Being a publisher means being passionate, it’s a line of work you choose, and I was lucky to meet songwriters who trusted me and still trust me.”
Although Piot’s companies have offices in Europe and the U.S., it’s from Montréal that he oversees their growth, and he hopes adding a few new artists from Québec to his family. “I came here in stages, and full of humility while I discovered this country and its music scene. I already had solid ties with some Québec publishers, I knew a few SOCAN members, and I received a warm welcome. There’s a community of very interesting musicians, like Pierre-Luc Rioux – a guitarist that’s worked with David Guetta, as a matter of fact.
“The music scene is incredible,” Piot continues, “so if you ask me what the next step is, it’s obviously to sign a Québec songwriter. I listen to a lot of local music, like Éli Rose, who I’d really like to work with! There’s also this DJ named Domeno. His stuff is played by a ton of other DJs. The EDM scene seems under-represented in Québec.” It is a natural area of interest for the publisher, one in which he intends to dig a little deeper. Word to the wise…