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interview

Lara Baker

Director of Business Development UK & IE, Songtrust

As Director of Business Development Lara is responsible for securing new business and maintaining relationships with songwriter and publisher clients. Lara is also a board member of The Americana Music Association UK, a frequent speaker at a number of events including TEDx, SXSW, UN Women and Midem, and a founding committee member of the Music Week Women in Music Awards.

Lara Baker

Where are you based?

Currently during COVID I’m based between my kitchen, living room and occasionally the garden in Morden, South London – I like to mix it up! Usually I’m based out of the Songtrust and Downtown Music office in Central London.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I work for Songtrust – the world’s leading publishing administration company as Director of Business Development for the UK & Ireland. We work with over 300,000 songwriters and 26,000 publishers all over the world to register their songs and collect their global publishing royalties. So many songwriters (and even the teams around them – managers, labels etc) don’t fully understand music publishing and so are leaving money on the table because they don’t have either a publishing deal or a publishing administrator like Songtrust in place. We do a lot of work to educate creators on how music publishing works and how royalties are collected, so that any writer, at any level and any stage in their career, can collect what they’re due. It’s about providing a transparent, DIY and writer-friendly solution to music publishing.

What are you listening to?

I really enjoy country and Americana music, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, Yola and Ruston Kelly recently, and I’m very excited about the long awaited return of The Chicks (formerly Dixie Chicks). Elsewhere, the new album from Bruno Major is great and my friend Katie Malco put out a wonderful debut album called ‘Failures’ last month. My song of the summer is Mahalia’s ‘BRB’. I’m a pop queen at heart so I have also been loving the latest albums from Carly Rae Jepsen and Dua Lipa, and there’s a new pop artist called Baby Queen that I’m excited about – her first single ‘Internet Religion’ is a total earworm.

How do you discover new music?

This sounds old fashioned perhaps but I do still listen to radio a lot! There are certain shows on Radio 1 that I really enjoy (shout out Clara Amfo, Annie Mac and MistaJam) and I always listen out for the BBC Introducing artists that are being supported by Huw Stephens and across the network. I worked on the  BBC Music Introducing Live event before I joined Songtrust, so I have a real appreciation and understanding of the platform that BBC Introducing provides for new UK artists. I also think that trusted guides like Huw, Annie, MistaJam and John Kennedy at Radio X for example still have a really important role to play in music discovery, especially now that there is more music available than ever.

I use radio to discover new country music too – Chris Country and Country Hits are both great stations; the UK has never had so much country music radio and the genre is growing exponentially in popularity here. Spotify’s Hot Country playlist is also something I regularly check out.

As I write this, there is no live music taking place due to COVID, but normally I find a lot of great new music by watching support acts at gigs and also going to showcase events like AmericanaFest UK, Liverpool Sound City, iluvlive gigs and The Great Escape. I like to go to the smaller stages at festivals like The Long Road and just catch some artists that I hadn’t previously heard of. Most of my friends work in live music, so I’m often tagging along to shows and festivals and being guided by my friends on who to check out.

Finally I’m forever Shazam-ing songs I hear on TV shows and films; in another life I should have been a Music Supervisor.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

I exclusively use digital platforms – streaming services. My record player is dreadful so although I have a nice little vinyl collection, they don’t actually get played very much. No CDs or cassettes – I have nothing to play them on and don’t have the space!

“Even as a kid I used to make mix tapes for all my friends, so I guess I’m still doing the digital equivalent of that.”

Where do you do most of your music listening?

All of the time, everywhere! I drive family and friends crazy because I always have music on – in the house, in the car, on the tube, at work, on my run, in the shower, as I’m going to sleep… Other people might sometimes have the TV on in the background while they do things, or just have a bit of peace and quiet now and then, but I have music on all of the time. I never travel without my little Bose portable speaker.  I don’t do peace and quiet!

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

It’s not often that I listen to music pre-release, it doesn’t really come up in my particular role. It’s always a nice surprise though when a client (a manager for example) sends me something that they have coming out as I like to be familiar with the songs we represent.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

I can’t deal with ads and pop ups. And when people send massive MP3 files on emails, that’s frustrating.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

Hmmm this is a good question, I’m not sure I do keep track all that well! I make a lot of playlists, either by genre or mood or by what I’m listening to in a particular month or season. So when I find an artist or a song I like, I tend to throw it into a playlist.

Discover the #HowWeListen Playlist

Listen to the #HowWeListen 2021 Picks playlist. Curated by this year’s interviewees.

Listen on Spotify

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

I think my friends think that my taste in music is a bit rubbish, so I try to tell them when I’m excited about new music but I’m not sure that they listen! Haha. Often people are curious about country music and I’ll make them a playlist of songs I think they’ll like. Even as a kid I used to make mix tapes for all my friends, so I guess I’m still doing the digital equivalent of that.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Well if you’re a songwriter or you work with writers, then of course I want to promote Songtrust! We can help you to get your head around music publishing and how to collect what you’re due – check out our Modern Guide to Music Publishing and our free webinars, or drop me an email!

"I drive family and friends crazy because I always have music on - in the house, in the car, on the tube, at work, on my run, in the shower, as I’m going to sleep..."

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