EducationEntertainmentHigher EducationMusicPublishing

Alexa Cabellon: Music publishing executive

Companies/Titles:

  1. Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc./Director, Royalties and New Media
  2. Berklee Online/Professor & Curriculum Developer

Industry: Music Publishing

Function: Royalties

Education:

BM, cum laude-Music Business, New York University, 2009

Survey:

EHC: What is your daily schedule like?

My typical workday is 10 a.m.–6 p.m. What I do in that time varies, but in general I’ll process royalty statements and make sure songs are set up to pay out to our songwriters and publishing partners accurately, oversee our partnerships with digital service providers like Spotify and YouTube, work with interns, and so much more. Outside of those hours, I instruct a Music Publishing 101 course for Berklee Online.

EHC: What is your favorite part of your job?

Advocating for songwriters!

EHC: What were the steps you took to get your job?

I went to NYU for the music business program, applied for an advertised internship at Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc. and got the position when I was a sophomore. During my junior year of college, the royalties manager retired, and at that time, I was asked if I would be interested in that job. The company worked with my needs to help me through the transition of intern and student to full-time employee. I’ve worked at Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc. for just over ten years now and was promoted to Director, Royalties and New Media in 2017.

I was asked to start teaching the Music Publishing 101 course at Berklee Online by the course author. Over the years, he saw my interest and dedication to learning and understanding the industry and brought me on as a professor. More recently, my role with Music Publishing 101 has expanded to help keep the curriculum current.

EHC: What is your best piece of advice for girls interested in this field?

Try to gain as much experience as you can through internships, and try to find communities or organizations that can help you connect with executives and people working in the industry. Be creative about how you find these openings.

EHC: What inspired you to pursue this career?

My love for music.

Career Snapshot

Alexa is the Director of Royalties and New Media at Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc., which is the oldest family-owned independent music publisher in New York. In this role, she makes sure all of the company’s songwriters are paid accurately at the end of each royalty collection period. She also liaises between the company and digital service providers (such as YouTube and Spotify), helping to determine how songwriters will get paid when their music is used on those platforms. She is also a professor and curriculum developer for Berklee Online’s Music Publishing 101 course, which teaches students the basic concepts of music publishing and enables them to create and operate their own music publishing companies.

In Alexa’s experience, one of the biggest misconceptions about music publishing is that it is solely related to sheet music. In reality, a publisher represents and protects a roster of songwriters and underlying song copyrights, working to license these songs for various opportunities while also handling the paperwork involved in collecting the compensation due for those uses. The royalties Alexa oversees come from lots of different places: CDs, digital downloads, radio play, streaming platforms, Broadway plays, film, TV, commercials, toys, and even some sheet music.

Being interested creates opportunities

Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc. offered Alexa a job as Royalties Manager after she successfully completed the internship because she proved she was hardworking and dedicated to learning about the functions of music publishing. From there, she continued to show an interest in learning about licensing and was given the responsibility of establishing new ways to license the company’s songs. Over time, this interest lead her to really get to know the growing area of online services like Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. Since she readily showed enthusiasm for learning and engaging with this area of the music industry, she was given big opportunities like helping Spotify test an innovative new tool that helps publishers better understand how their catalog of songs is performing on the platform.

Advice

There are so many areas of the music industry (record labels, management, publishing, for example), but try to home in on the area that really resonates with you. Be bold and actively seek out and talk with people already working in your area of interest. Networking is vital in the music industry, and if you approach it with a positive attitude, it’s an excellent way to build strong relationships and friendships that can be beneficial to your career.

A big opportunity for gaining experience is through internships. If you think you might want to work in a specific area of the industry, research the companies in that sector and see if they have any relevant internship opportunities for you. Sometimes a music business program like NYU or Berklee can help you open those doors, but a strong passion for music, a willingness to learn, and a positive attitude can go far in creating opportunities of your own.

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