SAE Industry Insight: Head of Synch & Creative Licensing at SONY/ATV Music Publishing, James Cooper

23 Jan 2020

James Cooper is the Head of Synch & Creative Licensing at SONY/ATV Music Publishing. 

What does his day to day job involve? 

James co-heads the synch department and it's the responsibility of his department to find opportunities for their catalogue and songwriters in all areas of the media, including ads, film, TV and games. He said: “We pitch ideas to our clients and also license songs into their productions. It's our job to be proactive and keep up to date with the media industries in order to keep across those opportunities.” 

How did James land his current role? 

James was working at an indie publisher before landing his first role with SONY/ATV. He was busy making sure he got to know as many people in the industry as he could, working hard to learn as much as he could about the business. 

He was asked to come in to interview for Creative Manager at Sony/ATV and ended up getting the job. Since then he has been promoted to his current role. He said: “Hopefully it was my passion for music and enthusiasm for synch they helped me stand out.” 

If he could go back in time and give his younger self some career advice, he would say: “Don't run before you can walk... experience comes with time! Work hard, learn as much as you can from others, read up on the industry and stay informed, meet as many people as you can, follow your gut instincts and just give it your best shot.”  

In terms of his long term career goals, James said: “I always want to develop and evolve in my career. It's an exciting time in the industry and I would like to carry on moving up the ranks of senior management.” 

What is his greatest professional accomplishment to date?

He has several major achievements to choose from when it comes to choosing a standout moment in his career. James said: “Helping to sign Robert Plant to Sony/ATV for his solo catalogue was a definite highlight! Specific to synch I'd have to say working on two John Lewis Christmas campaigns, licensing 'Half The World Away' by Noel Gallagher in 2015 and then 'Golden Slumbers' by John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 2017.” 

How can you follow in James’ footsteps? 

James recommends that you learn as much as you can about the music industry, including figuring out what area interests you the most. To do this, try and get internships and jobs in these areas and see for yourself whether it’s something you can see yourself doing long-term. He said: “Don't worry if you change your mind, it took me a few years to find out I wanted to work in synch. Make sure your CV reflects any applicable qualifications, interests or experience and also make sure that you properly research the companies you're applying to.”

Note: SAE Industry Insight is an interview feature where we talk to people working within the creative industries about their roles and how they got there, with the intention of providing SAE students with career advice. The people we interview are not necessarily affiliated with SAE in any way.