Matt Pincus is the founder and CEO of SONGS Music Publishing, the leading US contemporary independent music publisher. With its headquarters in New York and offices in Los Angeles, London and Nashville, SONGS’ 350 songwriters are global stars across the spectrum of contemporary music, including Grammy Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Lorde, R&B superstar The Weeknd, super-producer DJ Mustard (the leading urban producer in the world with 21 Top 20 Pop and R&B hits since 2012), EDM superstar Diplo (Usher, Madonna, Justin Bieber, MIA, Sia, Major Lazer), and many more. SONGS has registered in the top 10 of Billboard’s Publisher Quarterly for the past 6 quarters, claiming as much as 5% of overall US radio airplay.
Matt’s history in the music business goes back to the age of 17 when he toured and recorded his first album as the bass player in Judge, the seminal straight edge hardcore band. After being on the road for two years, Matt realized he was more interested in the band’s business operations than in taking dives off the stage and he entered Columbia University, earning an undergraduate degree.
After a stint as a features reporter at New York Magazine where, in addition to writing cover stories he compiled the magazine’s Nightlife section of concert listings, Matt returned to music. He established the indie label Some Records with some friends from the hardcore scene who went on to break big on major labels. Although the label did well, Matt had a sense that there was a bigger world out there for him, and he returned to Columbia where he earned an MBA in 2002.
After business school, Matt landed a plum gig at EMI as an Associate in the company’s Global Strategy and Business Development Group, where he worked for a group of Ex-McKinsey consultants brought in to restructure the company’s operations and establish the first digital deals with Apple, Rhapsody and others. From there he joined the deal team for EMI’s 2003 bid to acquire Warner Music Group from Time Warner.
During his time at EMI, Matt noticed that there was a huge influx of private equity and hedge funds plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into new start-ups acquiring catalogs of historic songs at record prices, but ironically almost none of that money was being spent to sign new songwriters. Matt saw an opening for an independently operated, 100% internally owned, full service music publishing enterprise. So, in 2004, he established SONGS.
Ten years later, under Matt’s leadership, SONGS Music Publishing is the leading contemporary independent publisher in the US. Like Rondor, Zomba, and Windswept were in the 1980s and 1990s, SONGS is the place where today's top songwriters turn for a creative alternative to the majors.
Key to SONGS’ success is Matt’s impressive record in hiring and retaining its talented executives. Matt has assembled and manages an all-star team of 35 people many of whom are considered to be among the best executive talent in the music industry today.
As the collective profile of SONGS writers has grown, the company has begun to define best practices in the evolving digital music business. The company is one of a small handful of independents to deal directly with major digital concerns like YouTube, Google Play, Amazon, and others.
As SONGS breaks ground in the digital market, Matt has become a leading voice in today’s music publishing industry. He is currently the only frontline independent publisher to serve on the board of directors of both the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). On behalf of NMPA, Matt served on the committee negotiating the successful 2012 settlement of the Copyright Royalty Board process setting compulsory mechanical rates. Matt is now a recognized public voice on digital music issues, in particular in the debate over payments to music publishers for online videos, where his advocacy helped bring about landmark agreement securing payments from major record labels to independent music publishers, and in settlements providing payments to music publishers from the leading YouTube Multi-Channel Networks.
Matt is also a member of the board of directors of Community Impact, Columbia University’s undergraduate community service program, and a member of the board of trustees of the Wooden Nickel Foundation, a non-profit organization benefitting cultural arts and other institutions.