Keith Harris, Director of Performer Affairs, PPL, is to step down at the end of 2015, after nine years in the role. Keith will continue to work with the company on a consultancy basis.
Keith Harris, Director of Performer Affairs, PPL: “It has been a good and exciting nine years at PPL, but I feel that the job that I was originally brought in to do has come to a positive end, with performers now totally integrated into PPL.”
Keith Harris joined PPL in 2006 when the performer organisations PAMRA and AURA were merged into PPL to form one organisation representing performers as well as record companies. Alongside other important changes made as part of this integration, such as the introduction of PPL’s Performer Board and Annual Performer Meeting (APM), the position of Director of Performer Affairs was created to help support and smooth the process. Appointed to the position by the Performer Board, Keith played a pivotal role in strengthening PPL’s relationships with the performer community, raising awareness of PPL’s services and commitment to performers, and helping to oversee the successful implementation of the merger.
Nine years on, with PPL now well established as a home for both performers and record companies alike, and with increasing performer representation within PPL’s governance structure, Keith has decided to step down on the basis that the role of Director of Performer Affairs has reached its natural conclusion. Since 2006, PPL has delivered year on year revenue growth for the performers it represents and has continued to enhance the service it provides. Over that same period, PPL has welcomed an increasing number of Performer Directors. Earlier this year, the PPL AGM voted overwhelmingly in favour of adding a further Performer Director to the PPL Board, to be elected at next year’s APM (taking the total number of Performer Directors to six, sitting alongside eight record company directors, two executive directors from PPL’s management, and one non-industry director). PPL also recently announced that existing PPL Performer Director, John Smith (General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union and President of the International Federation of Musicians) will take up the part-time role of PPL Chairman at the start of 2016, following Fran Nevrkla’s retirement.
With an extensive and varied career spanning 40 years to date, Keith started out in the music industry at independent Transatlantic Records in 1974, where he promoted British folk musicians, as well as artists on the Blue Note and Milestone Jazz labels. In 1976 he joined EMI Records initially promoting in-house EMI labels including Rocket, working on the Elton John album Blue Moves. Keith went on to join Motown Records, working with The Commodores, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Rick James, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and Thelma Houston, eventually moving to Los Angeles in 1978 to work directly for Stevie Wonder who he still represents today.
On his return to the UK in 1982, Keith formed his own management company and has been involved in the management of various UK based artists since. He has managed Junior Giscombe, Junior Tucker, Lynden David Hall, Omar, and Paul Johnson.
As well as working with celebrated time-honoured artists, Keith proceeded to mentor and educate young artists at the start of their careers helping to develop the Honours Degree in Commercial Music at the University of Westminster, where he taught for more than 16 years, and where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in 2008.
Across the years Keith has sat on a number of music industry organisation and charity Boards including the Arts Council’s African and Caribbean Music Circuit and National Lottery Capital. He continues to be involved with the Midi Music Company, EMI Music Foundation and the British Music Experience. Keith is Chairman of MusicTank, and is on the advisory Board for the Music Managers Forum.
Keith will continue to speak at events across the world on the value of music and the inherent importance of performers’ rights. In June 2015, he was awarded an OBE for Services to the Music Industry.
Fran Nevrkla, OBE, the outgoing Chairman of PPL: “I was delighted when 9 years ago, Keith let me persuade him to join PPL in a new role of Director of Performer Affairs. As far as I was concerned, he was the only ideal candidate for the job and his contribution over the years has been enormous. Keith is a remarkable individual, a real team player and a true gentleman. He is a pleasure to work with and I thank him for all his sterling work and for his friendship.”
Peter Leathem, CEO, PPL: “Keith has been a very good friend and colleague and has played a key role in turning PPL from a collective management organisation that worked for record companies into one that also works for performers. I am delighted that Keith believes that his original role has now run its course in light of what has been achieved for performers at PPL but I am delighted that Keith will continue to work for PPL as a consultant.”