Features Interviews

Harriet Moss: MD of Manners McDade, UK Director of She Said So and She Grows mentor

Harriet Moss is the Managing Director of Manners McDade, UK Director of She Said So and a She Grows mentor.

Can you give a brief overview of what you do?

I’m the MD of Manners McDade. We’ve got a composer agency, music publishing company and creative services. The composer agency represents composers writing for visual media worldwide. We’ve got a brilliant, diverse roster and the publishing company administers the rights of those composers we represent. We represent artists and composers within the new classical and electronic genres which is a really lovely area to specialise in. It’s definitely my favourite kind of music.

It sounds like it’s great for synchronisation as well…

It is, it’s really fun to work with. It means we’re in a limited portion of the market, but when you look at advertising there’s a huge realm of possibility for instrumental music. Similarly with fashion catwalk shows. We did a brilliant sync for Chanel and their last Karl Lagerfeld collection at Paris Fashion Week – we do a lot of interesting projects like that.

You’re also creative director for an in-house record label…

Bob McDade launched the label a few years ago and I love working with him. We’re currently planning a few exciting new releases. The first release we put out was based around a string quartet but with electronics, electric guitar, recordings and samples.

It’s really nice to be doing the publishing day to day, but to jump into the label world was fascinating. Because I come from a PR background a lot of it went back to that and was about the promotional element of the album.

Then we launched creative services, the third arm of the company, and with that we noticed, having seen the industry from a variety of sides, that the more cohesive you can be with a campaign, bringing together PR, sync, marketing and branding, the better. Creative services is doing all of those things for labels.

Have you always worked in music?

I worked in classical music PR before which was really great. I was working with a lot of the artists that I now work with in publishing.

How did your path in the industry lead to your role as MD?

I think PR and sync use a similar skillset and sync is how I got into publishing. It’s promotional, you’re pitching people, you’ve got to know a lot about the artist and a lot about the repertoire. It’s about relationships, it’s about who you know, it’s about talking to the right people at the right time and it’s also about luck. Through doing Manners McDade sync I learnt everything I needed to know about the publishing industry. The continuous thread throughout my career has been working with composers and artists, that has always been my priority and that’s my priority at Manners McDade too.

It’s nice that the skills have been transferred. How long have you been working at Manners McDade?

It’s coming up to five years and publishing is the thing I’ve learnt the most about during that time. Publishing is so versatile and you get to know the rest of the industry really well. You see it from a really interesting perspective because you see it from the song and the copyright and the composer is at the heart of that.

I think publishing is one of the areas that people talk about the least, but it’s actually one of the most important.

I think it’s seen as the least sexy which I’ve always hated. Other parts of the industry might be coming at it from a sales point of view and it’s all about breaking records, selling loads, money and image, whereas publishing is so cool because it comes from the song, the composer. It’s not just about promoting that, it’s about protecting, administering and managing that – I think it’s sexy.

What was your role before MD?

I’ve had a few roles, but before MD I was Global Creative Manager, looking after the creative aspects of the company – sync, A&R and PR.

Has moving from Global Creative Manager to MD been a big change?

It has – it’s been brilliant. I love the strategy element of it. I’ve applied it to the artists I work with, coming up with a plan for them or a plan for a campaign. I love working with my team and seeing what we can all achieve. At the same time, by working across all elements of the company, I get to have an overarching view of what our artists and composers are doing, enabling me to look at their careers from the bigger picture. I’ve enjoyed the team management element of it, this is the biggest team I’ve managed, and day to day that’s what’s changed the most.

What would you say has been your steepest learning curve in your career?

The business development aspect of being MD. That’s been really fun and I had a great business coach last year when I started. Looking at how to apply different business models to the company and how we structure that, how we structure the team, the year and looking at how to grow in certain areas.

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Can you tell me a bit more about your radio show Soho Classical?

It’s a monthly show on Soho Radio, which has been running for the last year and a half. It’s just been extended to two hours. It used to be an hour, but it was the quickest hour of my life. When I’m curating it I put together a three hour playlist which I usually put on the blog afterwards. It’s called Soho Classical and it always ties back to that, but it’s not strictly classical music it’s in and around that genre. I often play things that start off being instrumental and peaceful, lots of things that you might associate with some types of classical music, which ends up in a pop or rock song so it can be really open.

I try to showcase as many new composers as possible, telling Londoners what’s happening with classical music in and around Soho and I interview lots of artists. I’ve just started a new feature which is an artist to artist interview. It’s amazing to listen to because they have an insight into each other’s worlds that only another artist would have.

Soho Radio are also opening a new studio so there will be more room for a lot more live performance.

You’re the UK Director of She Said So. Why do you think organisations or collectives like She Said So are so important at the moment?

I just spent a really lovely weekend in LA with the founder, Andreea Magdalina. We had never met before She Said So and the process of working to make things better for the industry has made us really close friends. She Said So is incredibly important and I see it’s necessity pretty much everyday in my career, in society and in life. We often hear the word diversity used which is really important, but I also love to talk about inclusion because that’s precisely what we should achieve – we need to make the music industry as inclusive as possible.

It’s not just about making the face of the music industry diverse from the outside, it’s also about making it really welcoming from within, making it such a brilliant place to work that people from all different backgrounds will want to be a part of it.

At certain career levels it’s 70% men, 30% women and that gets worse as you get higher up. Art and creativity will only improve when everybody in the world is involved in it and that’s why we have to make it more inclusive.

You’re also a She Grows mentor…

Yeah, that’s been a really fantastic experience. Myself and Holly Manners founded the mentorship programme for She Said So, She Grows. We did a great pilot scheme in 2017 and kicked off the last scheme in 2018. The pilot scheme was just over 20 pairs of women and the latest scheme is nearly 50. A few of those pairs include women in the Indian music industry. We’ve got lots of exciting plans for this year.

In a lot of industry discussions, it’s very easy to talk about how to make the industry more diverse or inclusive without putting it into action. You’re a good example of someone who is actually doing things to improve the industry.

It’s about changing the nature and the culture of the industry and making it a lot more inclusive. There’s a huge variety of things that can be done like making it easier for people to take paternity and maternity leave, which means parents stay in the music industry for longer. It’s recognising where the industry might be culturally skewed against women and ethnic minorities and addressing that so that it’s more balanced.

Schemes like She Grows are really important because we talk to a lot of women about the lack of representation at the top of the industry. There are women at the top of the industry, but we’ve got to show them as role models to inspire the younger generations and also foster a culture of women supporting each other. Getting rid of the notion that we’re fighting against each other – a lot of women want to support each other all the time and that’s really important to highlight.

Have you seen things starting to change because of these projects?

I see the impact of She Said So all the time and it feels amazing. It can be really big or it can be really small. We ask for a lot of feedback when we finish the mentorship schemes. Last year it was great to hear how many people had gained the confidence to improve or change their job. One of our mentees was interning in the sector she wanted to work in and landed a brilliant job with the help of her mentor. You hear incredible personal stories like that which makes it all worthwhile.

You mentioned role models. Have you got any role models in the industry?

Catherine Manners, my current boss. Not only have I always thought she was brilliant since I’ve known her, but she took a chance on me last year when she made me MD. I think what makes a real difference in the industry, is when people take a step forward, make bold decisions and have faith in people when they’re loyal and hard working. Recognising the younger generation in the industry has always been really important and I think Catherine has always been brilliant at that.

What are your top tips for women trying to get into the music industry?

This is a very relationship based career and being yourself and being lovely to everyone is really important. Make the music your priority or if you’re lucky enough to work closely with artists make them your priority.

I was talking earlier about having women at the top of the industry but I think sometimes the industry can focus too much on hierarchy. There’s this amazing business model where you have your artists at the top and then you have your team that are working to make their careers work, as managers and directors, at the bottom holding them up and supporting them. As I said before, publishing is a great way to look at that because you have those songs and the catalogue at the forefront… We call it the music business too much. It’s an industry, but we’re here to serve the artists ’cause the world can be a weird place and if we didn’t have music we’d sure as hell feel it.

Harriet is involved in ComposHER, celebrating female composers, on 12 June at EartH Theatre in Hackney. Tickets are available here: rockfeedback.com/concerts/detail/composher

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