As the music industry redefines itself, the role of the music publisher as an incubator for talent is ever more vital. Prescription Songs, founded by Lukasz Gottwald—mega platinum songwriter-producer Dr. Luke—is a worldwide venture representing nearly 90 industry-leading songwriters. Two key executives, Rhea Pasricha, Head of A&R West Coast and Katie Fagan, Head of A&R Nashville, are at the forefront of the company’s endeavors.
Based in Los Angeles, Pasricha scouts and signs new talent while coordinating creative opportunities for Prescription’s roster: songwriters such as Emily Warren, SOHN and Ammar Malik. She's been involved in massive hits “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Chainsmokers, and “Capsize” by FRENSHIP feat. Emily Warren, plus placements with Rihanna, Nick Jonas, Kelly Clarkson, Dua Lipa and more.
Her Nashville counterpart, Katie Fagan, is expanding opportunities outside of the company’s home base, heading up the Nashville office. Fagan signed James Sunderland and Brett Hite (the duo known as FRENSHIP) and works with topliners Soaky Siren and T Collar who co-wrote “Hey Ma” by Pitbull and J Balvin featuring Camila Cabello, as well as Sarah Hudson, co-writer of Katie Perry’s “Swish Swish” plus nine additional tracks on Perry’s latest, Witness. Fagan has placed songs with an impressive roster, among them Justin Bieber and Rita Ora.
Pasricha says that relationships are at the heart of finding new talent. “It comes from building a network of people you trust, whether managers or lawyers, and going out and keeping the ears to the ground—reading blogs and going to venues. Katie and I have both found artists in various ways, through SoundCloud and the thousands of bands who are playing at SXSW. Ultimately it’s being always open to hearing new music.”
Connecting songwriters to rising artists is a part of the equation, says Fagan, who references Dua Lipa. “We started hearing about her five years ago from managers who were working with her in London. One of the coolest things about what we do is to watch these things happen, whether it’s an artist, or a writer or a producer, to sign people early and watch them grow. Luke really encourages this, it’s how he started the company, to be part of the story from the get-go.”
Fagan says envisioning sounds in the future realm is essential. “If a song resonates with you, hopefully it will resonate with other people. At the end of the day we’d rather go down swinging with an artist that we believe in rather than win with a song we don’t love.”
In Nashville, along with fellow industry execs, Fagan has been instrumental in founding The Other Nashville Society, a members-only trade organization that focuses on repping non-country music writers, creators and executives. “We had our launch party last July and 500 people showed up,” she says. “There is really a need. We’ve had five events and each one is to capacity.”
Music publishing has traditionally been an area of the business where women flourish. Fagan says that this might possibly reflect the nurturing that songwriters require. “In terms of Prescription, we sign people early and there is a lot of hand-holding, talking to someone 50 times a day and reassuring them that their song is going to make it, or they will get a cut some day.”
Both Pasricha and Fagan profess that they are devoted listeners to music. Says Pasricha, “Everyone who works here is a music fan. It might seem obvious, but this is the first thing we look for when we’re hiring. There is so much great music to be discovered—this is our favorite part of the job.”
Contact Carla Senft, [email protected]