Claire Jarvis has just become the new membership director at PRS for Music, where she is responsible for ensuring that 135,000 composers, songwriters and publishers get the best possible service from their society.
A self-confessed ‘music industry lifer’, Claire first earned her spurs selling sheet music at independent publisher Peters Edition on Wardour Street, London. She was then drawn into the copyright world, joining the BBC for a mammoth 20-year stint which included various senior roles within music rights.
From there, Claire switched to join Sky as Director of Music Services, where she was responsible for overseeing the music team, leading the transformation of its music publishing business and cutting the large-scale commercial deals involving music.
Now she’s settled into her post at PRS for Music, we find out what she’s getting her teeth into and how she’s ensuring the organisation can exceed the demands of a diverse membership which calls the society home…
Why the PRS for Music membership department?
PRS members are a fantastic array and variety of songwriters, composers and music publishers, and the opportunity to lead on the relationship between PRS and these members is quite unique. I was keen to get back to working more directly and closely with the people whose (infinite) creativity fuels the music business and other creative industries. Music is in my bones and so far, the interactions and experiences I’ve had here with members have been really great.
What are your key priorities and goals in the role?
The number one priority is to drive a sense of continuous, almost relentless, improvement in the support and advice we give to our members, be they writers or publishers.
Our goal is to be best in class among music rights organisations, and that’s going to involve ensuring our distributions are as accurate and frequent as possible and that what we offer is compelling and reflective of the pace of change underway in music currently.
What are the main challenges facing PRS members?
There are different challenges for writers and publishers, but the common issue is a musical ecosystem which continues to be complicated – and is changing at rapid speed. The way we navigate through these difficult seas has never been more essential to creators and rightsholders.
How are you steering through constant flux?
More than ever, the membership department has to keep a sharp focus on how we best serve our 135,000 members, from handling day-to-day enquiries through to the complexities of operating in a digital marketplace. Keeping ‘on it’ has to become our mantra and this will be embedded via a constant review of our structures and practices in combination with harnessing digital capability to tackle as many of our labour intensive/high volume processes as possible. Driving through these changes is already in train and will be a key feature of my first year in post.
How do you see the department evolving to best serve members?
The evolution will be dynamic and, wherever possible within our financial constraints, ahead of the curve. As I said before, the evolution will come from us not taking our eye off the ball and a relentless focus on becoming best in class. Our member surveys are the main barometer of how we’re doing, and our current score puts us in what I’d mark as a ‘good’ category. I’d be disappointed if our planned evolution doesn’t move us to a ‘great’ mark within the next few years.
What’s the last great track you heard?
I tend to like new quirky stuff. For example, I had Bambi by Hippo Campus on repeat all summer.
This interview appears in the current issue of M magazine.