A 10-year SESAC veteran, Pat Collins is marking his first year as president. He previously served as senior vice president, overseeing all SESAC licensing functions. Before that, he spent 22 years at ASCAP where he directed general licensing and national sales. He now presides over 120 employees.
Nashville-based SESAC (The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers) was formed in 1930 to collect royalties on musical performances. SESAC sells licenses to a variety of entities that play music - from radio stations and nightclubs to doctor's offices and Internet providers - and distributes the royalty revenue to its 9,000 member publishers and authors. The smallest of the three performing rights organizations (the other two being BMI and ASCAP), SESAC is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
What are the accomplishments you've made since taking over as president a year ago?
Our first objective when I took over was addressing our building issues. The building that we still have at 55 Music Square was too small for our expanding operations. Immediately upon taking over, we were successful in renegotiating a long-term lease for this building and for another building next door to us. We have renovated both spaces top to bottom and we are here on Music Row for a long time to come.
We established a new business development center, we've executed several licensing strategies, and overall we've improved communication across the various divisions of this company and on behalf of our composers and our music publishers. We have expanded our tracking of radio and television performances extensively.
How do you distinguish SESAC from your competitors?
SESAC continues to distinguish itself under the concept of service. We continue to give personal service [and] we continue to be selective in the copyrights we choose to represent. We pay royalties faster [and] we track royalties, we believe, at the highest level of any performing rights industry anywhere in the world.
What are some new revenue sources that hold the most potential for SESAC?
We have executed a number of agreements where the use of SESAC music has increased, including fitness facilities. Our relationships with satellite radio are wonderful. Internet is a place that continues to grow exponentially. It doesn't cease to amaze me that almost weekly you read in the various trades about new companies, new ways to distribute music and new ways to entertain the public.
What is the biggest issue facing your affiliates now?
The biggest issue facing our affiliates and all songwriters and music publishers right now is the re-education of the young generation of music consumers that intellectual property is not free. We've gone through the last better part of a decade where a large group of our young people, who eventually become the large block of consumers of intellectual property, have been exposed to technology that allowed them to obtain intellectual property without paying for it.
SESAC supported the recent U.S. Supreme Court's Grokster decision that holds technology companies liable for file stealing they knowingly perpetrate. Do you feel you're out of the woods now?
I think there are still challenges. We're out of the woods, I think, on the legal perspective - we're not out of the woods yet on the education piece. Several things still have to occur. We have to have more legal alternatives; and price points and some of the conveniences and the efficiency that we have seen through the available technologies have to be embraced by more companies.