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I arrived just a few minutes early for a swanky industry party in New York City. This was the type of affair where they had the sidewalk roped off and a fellow stood at the door to discourage problems. Being geekily early, I took my place, first in line. An intentionally harried-looking woman in interesting garb — a cross between harshly stylish and Imean-business — clacked rapidly up to the door — paying absolutely no regard to the line I alone was in. She was stopped and politely informed that the room was not ready Paris Hill, Associate Manager, Creative yet and she should take her Affairs for Universal Music Publishing Group. place in line. Immediately she whipped out her phone, hit some number on speed dial and began a loud status she thought she had achieved in look-at-me rant which included waving the music world. Eventually, when it her free hand madly about while p a c i n g belligerently became clear that her actions were not in front of the gentleman at the door. going to get her in the door early, she In any other situation, you might flitted angrily away. consider this type of behavior to be childish and embarrassing, but this was Several other individuals tried to get in the music industry, after all, and the early and were also asked to find their only thing larger than the egos were place in line behind me. Each made a the insecurities those egos were scene before stomping off in a huff. At masking. She was taking the situation least I had some entertainment to help as a personal insult to whatever level of pass the time. Songwriter’s Monthly - June ’11, #137
“You Gotta Fight For It!”
Then, a young woman who was dressed smartly, but not flashy, quietly walked up and, without a word, took her place in line behind me. After a moment, we started talking and she said that she was at the party because she represented a publishing company. She was so nice, sweet-spoken and friendly, that I figured her real story was a little closer to her boyfriend was in a band and she was attending the party to network for him. Her name was Paris and she was far from your typical industry type. The gentleman at the door announced that the room was ready. As we entered the venue, a flood of people seemingly materialized on the sidewalk behind us and stormed the doors. Paris paused just inside the door and handed me her card. I glanced down before slipping it into my wallet. It read: Universal Music Publishing Group!
interview began. I m m e d i a t e l y, I p o i n t e d o u t h o w different she was from so many other people (especially at her level) in the music industry. She seemed to take a real interest in everyone she met, she still loved what she did, and she hadn’t become jaded in the least. “Well, good, I’m glad to hear that!” she expressed. “That means I’m still the same person I was ten or fifteen years ago. What drives me is a passion for music. When I was a little kid and my bedtime was 8 o’clock, I would wake up and try to hide so I could watch the Grammy’s! I love music and that’s what drives me to do what I do every day. I’m also a people person — you have to be a people person in this business. I really enjoy talking with other people and I really enjoy learning about other people. For me, it’s about trying to find out the history and background of a person, you know, figure out who they really are. It’s a lot of fun!” After a moment’s reflection, Paris realized, “Actually, I’m not the same person I used to be. What I do in the publishing world requires a little bit of banging on doors and trying to make things happen for my producers and writers and bands, so there is a little bit of aggressiveness that has to go into it. But my theory is, there is a time and place for that.” “Still, you’re not jaded,” I persisted. http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
“What drives me is a passion for music.”
In short, Paris Hill “is responsible for developing Universal Music Publishing Group songwriters and artists to maximize opportunities.” Her stable of artists/writers include Saliva, Mudvayne, The Pierces, Peter Zizzo, Rhys Fulber, and Safety Suit, to name a few. Hill has also worked on projects for artists such as Jimmy Eat World, Lifehouse, No Doubt, Garbage, Dredge, Thrice, and Rise Against. Before we parted for the evening, Paris cheerfully accepted my request for an interview. A few weeks later, I called. She answered the phone with a warm, friendly, “This is Paris,” and the Songwriter’s Monthly - June ’11, #137
“How did you get involved in the music business?” “Well, I did want to be a dancer,” she revealed. “but unfortunately, that didn’t really pan out. So, I started off in marketing. I was working for Universal in the distribution office in Dallas — this is back when they had a distribution office — and they had a marketing and sales office there where they took care of all of the territories around Texas. I was a field marketing rep for Louisiana. Basically, I made sure all of the record stores had our records in them and I made sure all of our clients were taken care of. Once the record stores started closing down, I decided to go back to school and finish my degree in marketing.”
“I kind of stumbled into publishing,” she continued. “I did some research on it to see if it was something I Rhys Fulber is a Juno nominated musician, could do. I landed an assistant role writer and producer who is most easily and just kind of worked my way up recognized for his contribution to industrial from there.” rock at its late 80’s conception, specifically in the bands Frontline Assembly and Though Paris enjoys a wide variety Delerium. He has also worked with such of music, she is partial to the Rock/ diverse artists as Josh Groban, P.O.D., Pop genre. “I absolutely adore very Serena Ryder, Mudvayne, Mindless Self hard-driven music. I listen to the Indulgence, Paradise Lost, and Yes. Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin. I love really moody music, too, like Jeff Buckley . . . But, I also love dance music was what inspired them to get music! It depends on my mood,” she into the business in the first place. laughed. However, almost every interviewee asks to keep that fact “off the record.” Paris, Note: Often during interviews, artists on the other hand, blurted, “Michael will profess a love of some form of pop Jackson was my hero! I wanted to music. Furthermore, many times, pop dance like Michael Jackson. Madonna. Songwriter’s Monthly - June ’11, #137 http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
“Oh no, not at all,” she agreed.
The Pierces are sisters Allison and Catherine Pierce, originally from Birmingham, Alabama but now living in New York. YOU & I, released in the UK on May 30th, was co-produced by Guy Berryman of Coldplay and his production partner, Grammy-award winner Rik Simpson. All the icons of the 80’s. That’s what I grew up on.” “It is so refreshing to hear you say you like pop, many people in the industry treat it like a guilty pleasure,” I commented. “I don’t think Michael Jackson is a ‘guilty pleasure’ by any means, that man was a genius!” she exclaimed. Though many claim that there is no longer any development in the music industry, a major part of what Paris does actually involves developing artists and writers. Songwriter’s Monthly - June ’11, #137 “There is a lot of development going on in publishing,” she informed. So, you work mainly with writers, then?” I asked. “Yes.” “Not bands?” “Actually, I do bring in bands,” Paris stated. “But we’re doing different kinds of deals with bands, now. It’s a whole new way of thinking . . . and trying to convince management to think in a different way, too, which is great because a lot of the newer managers http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
and the people who are coming up are thinking forwards instead of backwards.” “What is your role? Do you make suggestions to writers?”
changed her mind. “Actually, usually it’s never!” she laughed. I pointed out that it was possible to c a t e g o r i z e producers into two groups: those who were m u s i c i a n s themselves and those who weren’t. Both types had their strengths and weaknesses, but being a nonmusician it might be hard to convince a musician that you hear something he doesn’t.
“Yes, yes, if they send me a song, I might be like, ‘Hey look, you know this hook isn’t very strong.’ Or, I might have a writer who chooses to spend a lot of Writer/producer/musician/arranger, Peter his time proZizzo, co-wrote songs recorded by ducing, but Jennifer Lopez, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion, unfortunately M2M, Diana Ross and Howie Day. Zizzo that ’s not his worked closely with the development of strength — his both Avril Lavigne and Vanessa Carlton. strength is lyric and melody — “ R i g h t !” Pa r i s so I tell him, ‘Look, you’re good at exclaimed. “I’m not a musician, so I get production, but it’s just not your forte, that all the time. A majority of the why don’t we just consumers listen to focus you on lyric music in their car . . . and melody and you “It’s not just getting and that’s it! I listen can be an in-house on MTV or getting on to music more than writer? It’s about your typical the radio and you’re c o n s u m e r d o e s .” refocusing attention.” There was an edge famous anymore, “A r e t h e a r t i s t s forming on her tone. everyone has to do “ I r e b u t t a l t h e i r usually open to what you suggest?” I concerns with, ‘My everything.” wondered. ears are simple and this is what my ears “Sometimes no,” she answered. Then are telling me, I’m just telling you what after considering her response, she my ears are telling me.’ It’s one of Songwriter’s Monthly - June ’11, #137 http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
those things that takes lots of talking and being a therapist!”
you, then why are you in this business? This isn’t a normal career that people choose, it’s not like you wake up one “What does your typical day entail?” morning and you say, ‘I’m going to be an artist.’ Music is something that is in “A lot of my day-to-day is based on you, so you gotta fight for it! And that working with my songwriters and goes for anybody who is trying to have producers and trying to get them a career or trying to make something of placements and trying to get them to themselves, they have to fight for it. work with other The VP of Marketing writers.” at NBC didn’ t get “If you’re not there by waking up “You say that like fighting as hard as I o n e m o r n i n g , i t setting up a co-write a am fighting for you, h a p p e n e d o v e r of is hard,” I noted. certain amount then why are you in time and he or she “It can be very fought for it! You this business?” d i f f i c u l t ,” s h e can’t get anywhere if explained. “If you’re you’re not fighting for trying to get a writer into a room with a it yourself: showing up to sessions, bigger name, there’s lots of hustling on b e i n g o n t i m e f o r l o a d - i n s a n d everyone’s part: it takes me, it takes interviews . . . Interviews are the management, it takes . . .” worst! I can’t tell you how many times I have bands miss an interview and I’m “That’s the thing,” Paris switched gears like, ‘Really?! It’s in your calendar, I to focus on an important point. “This is know it because I put it there for you!’ what has changed in the business: If you notice, the artists and the bands there used to be two or three mediums who do really well are the ones who are that would make a band big, but now doing all of these things.” it’s like 500 things that you have to do! It’s not just getting on MTV or getting “Is there anything you’d like to close on the radio and you’re famous with?” anymore, everyone has to do everything.” “Just to sum it up,” Paris concluded, “if you are an artist or a musician and you “ H o w d o y o u h a n d l e g e t t i n g know that you’ve got something and submissions from artists who just aren’t you want to share it with the world, you ready, yet.” gotta fight for it!” “I’m just honest with everyone. ‘Look you’re not ready yet, you still have to hone in on your skills,’ that’s what I tell them. My theory on it is: If you’re not fighting as hard as I am fighting for Songwriter’s Monthly - June ’11, #137 Paris Hill is an Associate Manager, Creative Affairs for Universal Music Publishing Group. For more information on Universal Music, visit: www.umusicpub.com. http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
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