What do PPL Performer Development Specialists do?

Eurosonic Noorderslag is an annual four-day music showcase festival and conference held in January in Groningen, Netherlands. At night, emerging artists have the chance to play to a mix of music fans and industry figures at venues around the city centre of Groningen. During the day it’s an international music conference which provides a networking platform for European music.

Davy Wales, Performer Development Specialist at PPL, attended the event and has shared his thoughts for PPL members:

Can you give a brief explanation of what your role at PPL entails and why festivals such as Eurosonic are so important for emerging artists?

My role at PPL is Performer Development Specialist. This involves working with emerging artists to ensure that they are registered with PPL correctly and can receive the money they might be due from radio, TV and public performance airplay in the UK and internationally. I attend lots of events and, on average, see about two hundred live sets a year, hoping to engage with the next generation of artists and performers. Eurosonic in particular has always been a good barometer for artists that are launching an international career and so having a presence at events such as this is important for me. It’s an amazing opportunity to meet these emerging artists and their teams and then ensure that they’re aware of things like neighbouring rights royalties and their options in terms of collecting these.

Why is it vital for PPL to engage with artists at all levels regionally, nationally and internationally?

It’s important for PPL to engage with artists and performers of all levels as we have the infrastructure to help grassroots artists, in the same way as the bigger international headliners, to receive payment when recordings that they’ve performed on are broadcast or played in public. The performance royalties that established artists earn can make up a sizeable part of their income. For emerging artists, especially those that still own the rights to their master recordings, helping them understand how this works (including becoming a recording rightsholder member of PPL) can support what may prove to be a vital income stream for them. On a personal level, it’s nice to think I am helping out new artists - I try to make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes I did years ago in my old band!

Tell us a bit more about PPL’s involvement with the PRS Foundation?

In November 2016, PPL became an official supporter of the PRS Foundation and one of the funds we now contribute to is the International Showcase Fund (known commonly as the ISF). Getting an act overseas to a showcase like Eurosonic can be costly so it’s great that the Foundation can help with some of the costs if the artist has been invited to showcase there. The acts that receive the funding go through a selection process involving various people from across the music industry so we know they’re going to be of a high standard and give a strong representation of music coming out of the UK.

Why are events like Eurosonic important for engaging with our members?

Whilst being at events like Eurosonic benefits the proactive element of my role, it also means that I’m available so PPL members, potential members and their representatives can meet with me too. My network of contacts will often introduce me to people who may need guidance with neighbouring rights. For example, an artist manager at Eurosonic actually came up to me and said “I’ve been told to speak to the nice beardy guy who helps people with their PPL accounts, is that you?” I’ll take that!

Any funny stories or anecdotes from events such as this?

I love it when an artist I know by association breaks through, although I got caught out last year whilst out at a non-music night in South East London. I asked someone if they’d heard of a particular band as I thought they looked a bit like the vocalist… turned out it was actually the singer in said band. Pretty embarrassing for me, although they were surprised when I knew their management too. They ended up playing a storming set at Eurosonic this year so they’re already doing well.

How do you decide which shows to attend? 

There are some venues that always seem to put on sought-after events and I’ll rely on some reliable press sources and taste makers too. My colleague Leo O’Brien (a fellow Performer Development Specialist) is always scanning curated playlists and sending me things he knows I’ll like. Most of my friends are all heavily into music so going to lots of shows and events is standard for us. We talk about new artists and share with each other nights and events that are coming up. Everything feeds in to the process. If we can get to a show then we’ll try to be there as meeting people face-to-face is a great start to building relationships and making them feel comfortable when they need to approach us about something rights-related.


To explore more events our representatives will be attending, see the PPL events page. To stay up to date with all the latest news, follow @ppluk on Twitter.