The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: ASCAP Marketing & Communications SVP/CMO, Lauren Iossa
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a performing rights organization representing more than 525,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of every kind of music.
Today, we’re thrilled to chat with ASCAP’s Marketing & Communications Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Lauren Iossa.
A 31-year veteran of the organization, Iossa just completed another successful ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo event — ASCAP’s annual conference for songwriters, composers and producers in Hollywood, Calif.
In addition to event and conference planning, Iossa manages a variety of tasks, from brand messaging, to advocacy, social media marketing, advertising and much more. As busy as she is, it’s Iossa’s underlying passion for music that motivates her daily work for ASCAP and its members.
For more on ASCAP, visit www.ascap.com.
WiMN: Congrats on another successful ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo. Can you tell us about a couple highlights from this year’s event?
LI: We had more attendees than ever before and everyone seemed very engaged and enthusiastic. There was an incredible creative energy in all the panel sessions, the performances, the networking events and in the hallways. I am pretty busy behind-the-scenes during the EXPO, so I don’t get to all of the sessions, but the Bill Withers interview by Aloe Blacc was fantastic. Bill is inspiring and very funny and Aloe gave him lots of space as an interviewer.
Songwriters are very interested in protecting the value of their music and our legislative panel with Paul Williams, Aloe and the two members of Congress who introduced the Songwriter Equity Act, Reps. Doug Collins and Hakeem Jeffries, was also a highlight. Our opening and closing performances were also amazing – from the moment Valerie Simpson began playing piano during the opening night performance to the Writers Jam that closed the EXPO with Ashley Gorley, Aloe Blacc, Andrew Bird and Andrea Martin – I saw many standing ovations!
WiMN: Why should artists/writers join ASCAP, and how is it different from other performing rights organizations?
LI: ASCAP is truly their organization, with a Board of Directors made of up writers and publishers elected by and from the membership. We are also the strongest advocates for our members in protecting their copyrights and livelihoods and the most forward-focused. We fight harder for our members’ rights, we collect and distribute to our members more money than any other performing rights organization – we were the first to achieve $1 billion in revenues in 2014 – and we operate as a not-for-profit.
All the money we collect, about 88 cents of every dollar, we give right back to our members as royalties. We only deduct operating expenses. When you consider that we license over 700,000 businesses and we track and process for payment over 500 billion performances, you can see the efficiencies. We also care deeply about our members’ career development and offer programs and services to help them succeed at each stage of their career, including honoring them when they do succeed.
WiMN: What is your typical work day like?
LI: Long! I’m a morning person so I wake up early and handle emails before I leave for the office. Once I’m at the office, I am juggling a lot of projects, events and initiatives at once so I have a very full schedule. My job involves a lot of rapid response work in terms of the press, advocacy and messaging work, so I often have to shift gears. My team is also responsible for all of our communications, from our magazine to emails to social media to advertising, so we have a lot of deadlines and we have to make time for brainstorming as well.
WiMN: What is one little known fact about you?
LI: I love all kinds of music, but I have a special passion for composers who are writing very avant-garde, modern music – I hesitate to label it at all – composers like Henry Threadgill and Ornette Coleman. People who are writing music that is unpredictable and exciting, often challenging. That’s why I moved to New York City.
WiMN: Who are some of your female heroes in the music industry – artists or otherwise?
LI: That’s an easy one. Patti Smith is one of my musical heroes. I love her music, her artistry, her sheer power and raw passion. She’s an incredible performer and someone who continues to defy boundaries. I fell in love with her music the first time I heard Horses and I’ve been a fan every since.
Marilyn Bergman, who is not only a legendary lyricist, but was President of ASCAP for many years, is also a woman I truly admire. She’s a great creator and also a powerful, smart and very devoted advocate for all creators. Patti and Marilyn may be very different musically, but they are both brave citizens who work for what they care about, and I admire their commitment to service and making the world a better place.
WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been any challenges?
LI: When I first started out, there were not as many women in higher-level positions in the industry as there are now. There is a wonderful sense of camaraderie amongst many of the women I know in the industry, which is very encouraging. I think the challenges for women in music are probably the same as in any profession – balancing all of our personal and professional commitments. But I also think we’re in a field our children appreciate – which makes it a little more fun!
WiMN: What is some advice you’d offer to a young woman pursuing a career in the industry?
LI: Value your contributions – your creativity, your intelligence, your ideas and your hard work. And enjoy what you do. Most of us are in the music business because we have a singular passion for music. I always remember that and I take the time to love the music I’m working for and to remember why I do work so hard.
WiMN: What’s next for you and ASCAP?
LI: We are working to change the rules that govern music licensing for songwriters and publishers to better reflect the realities of today’s music business. With people listening to music they love on streaming services instead of buying it, we have to make sure songwriters and composers, and their publishers, can get fair market value for performances of their music. So, we are very focused on our advocacy work in Washington, D.C. to update the ASCAP Consent Decree, to pass the Songwriter Equity Act and to ensure creators are protected as Congress reviews the Copyright Act. In fact, we were in D.C. earlier this week with a group of amazing songwriters who met with members of Congress.
We also have a new CEO at ASCAP, Beth Matthews, who is incredibly smart, passionate about music and mission-driven to protect the value of music. I think ASCAP is already best-in-class in services to music creators, but we are always looking to innovate and do more. Right now, we are looking ahead and we are developing new services and tools to help our members and our licensing partners to maximize their opportunities, especially as the entire music space is evolving.