Hot Seat: Jaime Gough – GM, Native Tongue
Jaime Gough is one of the bright young things of music publishing Down Under. Back in 2010, Gough’s potential was recognised with an appearance in TMN’s 30 Under 30 list, when he was International Manager at Native Tongue, the independent music publisher helmed by his father, Chris Gough. Now 30, and packing a double degree in marketing and management, he’s risen to GM of Native Tongue.
Jaime started out in the biz as an intern at Melbourne-based management company Mayday, where he booked tours for the likes of the Go-Betweens, Mia Dyson, Renee Geyer and David Bridie. He did sync work for Native Tongue’s associated music licensing Mana Music, always under the guidance his New Zealand-born father. Jaime’s been full-time at Native Tongue since 2005, where he started as Copyright and Royalty Manager, then expanded his duties to include A&R and Licensing, and now serves as GM of the independent publisher. The younger Gough has signed the likes of The Getaway Plan, Philadelphia Grand Jury, The Amity Affliction and Oh Mercy, and more recently inked an Australia/New Zealand publishing deal with Cut Copy. TMN caught up with Gough on the eve of his annual pilgrimage to Cannes for the MIDEM music trade fair.
You’re at MIDEM, again. How important is the even nowadays for the publishing community?
For music publishers, MIDEM is still the major conference of the year. It’s the birthplace of new relationships and where most sub-publishing deals are agreed or extended. There has been a lot of talk over the past few years on whether MIDEM will survive. As long as there are publishers, MIDEM will continue in some capacity. There will be fewer labels, managers and artists in attendance, but publishers will always attend. This is my sixth MIDEM in a row. A number of the catalogue deals we’ve signed in the past five years wouldn’t have happened had we not connected at MIDEM.
Native Tongue is a small company. How do you guys compete with the bigger players?
Our competitive advantage is the creative attention we provide to our writers and catalogues. We pride ourselves on being the most proactive publisher in Australia and New Zealand. On a signing level, we always try to sign writers as early as possible and become an instrumental part of their creative development. Strange Talk, Gin Wigmore, Gossling and Oh Mercy were all signed before the release of their first albums and we worked hard to procure early sync placements, which generated substantial income and drew attention from international labels. Each of these artists has since signed an international record deal. Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes were signed by Vanguard Records after “Love Letter” featured in a high profile Heineken campaign.
Our experience and success with creative licensing has also made us a sought-after destination for established writers such as Cut Copy and The Waifs.
To have grown from a roster of just three writers in 2004, to now represent Elvis Presley, Lorde, Roy Orbison, Tom Waits, Diplo and many other great songs and songwriters is very special and something we are extremely proud of. We are also very conscious that to have continued success we need to deliver results and this is a huge driver for our team.
Your dad Chris has an enormous wealth of experience, and you’re working closely with him in your day-to-day. What are some of the important skills you’ve him?
Chris has had a myriad of music-related jobs, from journalism, managing recording studios, artist management, music supervision and publishing, so there isn’t much he can’t advise on. He has a very level-headed, honest and reasonable approach to business dealings, and I am grateful to have had him as a mentor. He’s given me a grounded perspective on how to treat writers, artists and fellow industry contacts.
You spent some time living in London. What did that do for you as an executive, and as a person?
When I started working with Native Tongue I thought it would be for a couple of years before going traveling. After four years, my partner and I wanted to get out and see the world, but Native Tongue was gathering momentum, I had signed some writers and was really enjoying the work. So we made a compromise and decided to relocate to London. I set out to establish great relationships within the international industry to generate more opportunities for our Aus/NZ writers, and at the same time bring in more catalogues to administer within Aus/NZ. We picked up companies like Imagem (Daft Punk, Temples), Williamson (Rodgers & Hammerstein), Elvis Presley Enterprises, Perfect Songs (Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Seal), Because Editions (Justice, Foals, Sebastian), Beggars Music (Kurt Vile, SBTRKT), and most recently Songs (Lorde, Diplo, Bright Eyes). So, the move was successful and a huge growth period for our catalogue admin business. I did manage to sneak some traveling in to amazing countries like Iceland, Montenegro, Morocco, Belgium, Turkey, Egypt and Spain…which is a lot harder to do when you’re based back in Australia. Whilst the U.S. is tempting I am happy living back in Melbourne for the time being.
What are the biggest challenges facing publishers today?
There are some very scary copyright law reform proposals being pushed through by the big multi-national corporations. These could be extremely detrimental to copyright creators and owners, so we need to stick together and ensure they are never passed.
Also, margins. Everyone wants the same great service for less.
What changes would you like to see happen in the Australasian biz?
More connect between labels and publishers, especially the majors. Often I feel like we are on different teams when we are working on the same artist.
Who are you tipping for a big breakthrough?
Gossling — Polydor U.K. have just released Harvest of Gold to kick off her album campaign, and she is very close to a signing a U.S. deal. Gin Wigmore — after a multitude of high profile sync placements around the world she is poised to have a big third album. Also, keep your eye on a young producer called Lancelot.