Published in The Music Network
Australian-born, UK-based songwriter and producer Philippe-Marc Anquetil likes to do things differently. Starting from scratch in the mid-noughties, his independent music publishing firm Phrased Differently can now boast credits in 30 No. 1s and more than 50 Top 10s around the globe. As a co- writer and producer, he’s had a hand in songs performed by Tinie Tempah, Sarah Connor, La Spina, Toho Shinki, Kumi Koda and local act Prinnie. TMN caught up with Anquetil to talk shop.
Philippe-Marc, you’re another Australian success story abroad. How did you get the ball rolling?
From 2000, myself and my songwriting partner Christopher Lee-Joe shifted up a gear. We built a studio in Australia and we were making good money. But it got to a stage where we left because we thought that would be the best way to develop our art. We came to London in 2004 with just a Mac laptop and we started from scratch. I started ringing all the managers and publishers in London, asking if they’d any artists who were interested in doing some free work, just to show what we had going. Then we would start charging.
The artist managers started banging at our door. We did it all from our wardrobe, where we’d set up a studio. Jessie J has recorded in there, as has Kelli (Young) and Jessica (Taylor) from Liberty X and Denise Pearson from Five Star. We’ve now got a new studio in Shoreditch, which we’ve expanded to five rooms.
Did you hit the awards parties for the networking opportunities?
We attended the ASCAP and BMI showcases. We needed an introduction for writing work, and these events were showcasing new talent that hadn’t been signed. Acts that were looking, but were on the brink.
When did things take off?
Particularly over the last 18 months. Most publishers start from success. You’ll have an album from a new artist which performs well and a publishing company pops up. We did it a different way. We teamed up with Hiten Bharadia, formerly of Universal. We all had the same love of music and love of writing music. Chris and I had our catalogue from Australia, and Hiten had his catalogue from the U.K. and we put it together and started the company. We started from almost nothing.
Our first success was Japan; we had a couple of huge singles right at the start of Phrased Differently and that got us going. We got a lot more work in Japan and Asia. When you write a song today, you won’t see any money from that song for at least two years. I wrote Invincible with Tinie Tempah and Kelly Rowland in November 2009. And that has been my biggest success as a single in England. It didn’t get released until December 2010, and I probably won’t see any cash from that until the end of this year. You just have to wait.
Your company has only 850 songs and five songwriters on its books. How big do you have to be before achieving critical mass?
When you start a business you need a lot of energy. We thought the best way to do it was to find the right sub-publishers around the world and really push them to get the right cut. It was all about introducing the right songs in the right place and getting the right cut. And we have loads of single-song assignments from songwriters around the world. If we hear that amazing song, we will do a deal.
Also, we’ve been commissioned to write songs for John De Mol’s Voice Of talent discovery franchise around the world. It’s an exciting time (Voice Of launched in the U.S with the show receiving more than 12 million viewers for episode one). We’re diversifying, not in the way that we’re just finding more places to sell, but we’re finding different ways to sell our songs.
Are you building the business?
We’ve just added an A&R manager. And our next goal is to expand into Australia. I’m hoping in the next year or so to be heading back to Australia and heading up Phrased Differently Australia. The idea is to have a team there which doesn’t just sell to Australia, but sells to the world through the international network we’ve set up.
Australia has an unbelievable amount of talent. It’s just unreachable to people internationally at the moment. The world is getting smaller. All we need is just key people to get those songs and those artists into the international scene. The whole international market wants new stuff. Australia’s music with an Australian accent will be a part of the international market soon enough.
Do you have any tips for Australian songwriters who might want to follow in your footsteps?
Persistence is key. And don’t expect to see results of the success for about two years. Also, you need to have more than a five-year plan. You need to be thinking five-years plus two. I’d also say write and collaborate with a lot of people. Other people will always come up with something different from yourself. And they will push you to another level.