Name: Jennifer Knoepfle
Role Title: SVP A&R
Headquarters: Los Angeles
Let’s talk about the last year you’ve had personally and professionally?
Last year was definitely a pivotal year for me professionally. It was a time of great change and added responsibility. My boss left and in the interim between Presidents, I was tasked along with my co-worker Jonas Kant to run West Coast operations for Sony/ATV. I was used to operating in the shadows and now I had to really step out of my comfort zone but in doing so, I grew so much as an executive. I’ve always loved the business of publishing and this opportunity gave me a huge window into how the company was run which was enlightening to say the least! I approach things so differently than I once did. I am so grateful for that experience.
Tell me about three people who have been critical to your career?
I’ve been lucky to have a few different people help me out at various points in my career. Two in particular were crucial to my journey. The first was my boss at ASCAP Tom DeSavia. He was incredibly supportive and more importantly, gave me an incredibly long leash creatively. He was never one for saying no, but rather asking, why, how and what is the impact?
The second key figure was Jody Gerson, my former boss at Sony/ATV and now the chairman of Universal Music Publishing. She gave me my first job in publishing and showed by example how to be a fantastic publisher and leader. She was tough but it kept you on your toes. She showed me that being an active participant was the only way to be a great publisher.
The third person isn’t really a person but rather people, and that would be the artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last fifteen years.
How do your personal values impact upon the way you operate in your role?
I approach my job as I would approach anything else in my life. Work hard, be honest, go with your gut and don’t be a jerk unnecessarily.
What workplace values are important to you?
Tenacity is a big one for me. You get told no a lot and it’s important for everyone working around you to push through that and find a way to make it happen. Teamwork is a must as well. We have to find ways to help each other.
How would you describe the culture at Sony/ATV?
Collaborative. As we like to say to our clients, when you sign to Sony/ATV you don’t just sign to one person, but to the entire company. We encourage direct relationships with the entire A&R team as well as our licensing team.
What are the areas where we can improve opportunities for growth?
I think streaming services are the most obvious place for immense growth. The payments are atrocious for songwriters currently and need to be worked out. Beyond that, I have no idea! The return of the cassette?
From your perspective, what are the issues facing the music business in today?
I think a big problem has to do with something I’m not sure how to even approach, and that has to do with people’s overall attention span for music. It’s crazy to me that an artist can sell a million records on their first record and only 100k on their second, where do their fans go? They move on. But why so fast? It’s almost like there’s been a return to a pre-Beatles era of singles and one-hit-wonders. Is it an overall cultural change, are we just too bogged down by all the information coming at us? It’s a giant mystery to me but one that I am constantly trying to analyze.
Looking into the future, what excites you most about the potential of the music business?
The return of curation. It’s great that anyone can make their music available to everyone at the drop of a hat, but who cares if no one can find it? I’m obsessed with Spotify and Apple Music playlists. I found one today called Best of Japanese Fringe Rock, Volume 2. First off, who knew there was a Volume 1?! But more importantly, even though I probably won’t listen to this playlist, I’m psyched it exists because it will just make it that much easier to get my Japanese Fringe Rock on - should I ever want to.
If you could provoke change in any area of the music business, what would it be?
I wish that the business could become more of a long game verses a short term one. Looking at quarterly profits and market share is probably the worst thing to ever happen to our business.
*Photography by Stefano Galli