Interview with Jessica Cole, President of Lyric House Music Publishing
In a short period of time, Lyric House Publishing has emerged as a successful, independent music publishing company. Based in Denver, CO and led by President Jessica Cole, this full-service company now publishes over 50 singer/songwriters, bands and writer/producers. Lyric House has recently made excellent progress, particularly in licensing their songs for TV, films, commercials, apps and other media.
Having first started by signing publishing deals with Colorado-based writers, artists & bands, Lyric House now represents many writers from across the U.S. and Canada. In addition, it has established international partnerships with many top subpublishers in Canada, Germany, France, South Africa, Australia, Italy, Brazil, Benelux, Stockholm and more.
Lyric House has recently placed songs with VH1, Hallmark Channel, a major department store commercial, the Style Network, ABC Family, Altitude Sports and more.
The company currently has four fulltime employees and three assistants to the fulltime staff. Besides Jessica Cole (President), the staff includes Jonathan Lapides (Director of Music Licensing/Business Affairs), Krista Van Allen (Head of Creative) and Roniit Alkayam (Sync Licensing Manager).
We are pleased to do this Q&A interview with Jessica Cole. She discusses her career leading up to launching Lyric House, her vision for the company, and their plans moving forward.
DK: Are you originally from Colorado, and how did you get into music?
JC: I grew up in Aspen, CO, a 3 1/2 hour drive from Denver. I started to play piano when I was six, and started experimenting with writing songs at an early age. I loved playing and listening to music, and my first biggest musical influence was Sarah McLachlan. Later on in high school, I got into musical theater, which allowed me to delve into the music and performing worlds even more. I got into writing my own songs more seriously around age 18, and I recorded three albums consisting of musical theater, pop and country songs.
DK: Did you attend college?
JC: Yes, I went to the University of Colorado at Denver to study Music Business and Vocal Performance. When I was in college, that’s when I considered pursuing a career in the business side of the music industry. The idea of being apart of the music business was so exciting to me. I started thinking about launching a record label or maybe even becoming an artist manager. Before I graduated, I had two internships; one at Live Nation’s Denver office and the other at CMT (Country Music Television) in Nashville.
JC: I fell in love with Nashville while I was there’working at CMT was a great learning experience. I learned a lot about the inner workings of music television and the country music industry; which further piqued my interest in the placement of music within TV. I also went to writer’s rounds and co-writing sessions; I loved the songwriting community there. Being in Nashville was a pivotal time for me, and it shifted my thought process. Instead of wanting to start a record label, I realized that I wanted to work with songwriters and be a part of getting songs heard and placed’this brought me into the world of music publishing.
DK: Did you consider staying and working in Nashville?
JC: I definitely considered it. I love Nashville, but I decided I wanted to create something unique in Denver. When I returned to Colorado, I first worked as an artist manager and I continued writing songs. Having experienced the established songwriting community in Nashville, I was yearning for that same type of creative outlet in Denver.
I had a vision of creating a community for songwriters so they could share their songs, co-write and feel like they had a place to be around other like-minded creatives. That’s actually how Lyric House was born, it started out as a songwriting association. I quickly realized though, that there was a need for something more than just a community for songwriters and artists in Denver. I then shifted my focus to turning Lyric House into a publishing company. The process actually felt very organic. Some of the local artists who were involved in the songwriting association were really excited about the prospect of a Denver based publisher. That just confirmed my decision to create something in Denver as opposed to staying in Nashville.
DK: Was it difficult at the beginning, placing songs and building credibility for your company?
JC: It was definitely challenging in the beginning. We knew we had to have a certain amount of songs before we could start pitching and letting industry people know about the Lyric House catalog. This is why we devoted the first few months to building the catalog. It was a great feeling when we started making placements and gaining momentum, that validated that we were doing something right and heading in the right direction.
DK: I read on your website that you now represent about 50 writers.
JC: Yes, we currently publish about 55 writers from all over the country and a few outside of the U.S. We’ve signed about 50 writers to exclusive deals, with five writers to development deals.
DK: Are most of these writers from Colorado, or from other regions?
JC: About 25 of our writers are from Colorado, with our other writers from across the U.S. We now represent writers in many different genres, such as singer/songwriter, indie rock & pop, electronic dance music, hip-hop, Top 40 pop, country, folk, blues and Americana.
DK: When you sign a writer, are you mainly looking for songs which you can place for sync/licensing deals?
JC: Yes, the majority of writers we sign are for film & TV placements. We are very sync focused. But we also represent great songwriters whom we pitch for cuts with pop & country artists. In addition, we now do artist development. We pride ourselves on being a full-service, dynamic publishing company.
DK: Do you do most of the song pitching?
JC: At the beginning I did most of the pitching, but now I have a terrific team and we all pitch. I do travel a lot to pitch songs, particularly to Los Angeles and Nashville. I go to L.A. or Nashville every few weeks.
DK: When you’re pitching for sync, what genres of music are most in demand?
JC: I would say the most marketable genres are singer/songwriter, indie rock and indie pop. Also, it’s important that the song is recorded well. However, we did have an instance where a major network was looking for a more organic, rougher recording’rougher/home recordings are not a normal request. We remembered a writer who had sent us a rough recording with similar lyrical content to what the client was looking for, and that it might fit for this particular request. So we asked the writer to make some adjustments and redo the demo within 24 hours if he could. He was able to do it in that time frame and they ended up using the song for the show. It was a very cool and unique placement.
DK: Who are some of your writers & bands that you’ve had good success with?
JC: Glowing House is a terrific indie-folk band from Denver that are doing quite well and have some great traction. Mergence is a band from Phoenix, AZ that has a commercial rock sound, great for adverts’they’re kind of like the Black Keys but they have their own cool sound. Ally Rhodes is an indie pop singer/songwriter out of Omaha, Nebraska with a devoted and growing fan base and a strong YouTube presence. Storm Circus is an indie pop band from Kansas City, MO that has had some great placements. They are definitely a band to keep on one’s radar.
DK: You’re certainly off to a very good start with Lyric House. What are your plans for the future?
JC: I want to continue to build on the momentum we’ve created – It’s important to us to go above and beyond just acting as a publishing company. We strive to grow with our artists and create a personalized experience for each of them. We have some exciting things brewing with regards to our artist development and song development processes. Without giving away too much just yet, I can tell you that we will be offering even more as far as custom artist development services as well as new writing facilities specifically for our songwriters. Most of all, I always want to remain true to the main reason I started Lyric House in the first place, to continue to provide a community for songwriters – a home – to come together and create – and most importantly to me, to get their music heard. I look forward to what the future holds.