Pegi Cecconi is a true titan in the Canadian music industry. As VP of SRO/Anthem, “the home of the original 360 deal,” Ms. Cecconi has experience in a diverse spectrum of different roles, ranging from artist management to touring to recording and record production. In her capacity as a music publisher, Ms. Cecconi has been a valued member of CMRRA’s board of directors for over 25 years. On May 5, 2015, the Music Managers Forum will be honouring Ms. Cecconi with the Brian Chater Pioneer Award, and CMRRA is proud to congratulate Pegi for this achievement.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Pegi about her role as a pioneer. Taking her award in characteristic stride, she laughs that she’s “glad I’m still alive to be recognized.” She’s also honoured to be recognized in the name of Brian Chater, who spearheaded numerous developments of the Canadian music industry during his 40-year career, including the establishment of Neighbouring Rights. “He was a true pioneer … I learned more through him than anyone else I worked with, so the honour is being given an award named after him.”
Ms. Cecconi’s career began while she was still in high school, where she worked as a social convener booking bands through Ray Danniels’ agency. Danniels would go on to found SRO Management, and after Pegi graduated she became SRO’s first employee. There she developed experience in artist management, before moving on to work for Bernie “the Attorney” Solomon. After representing ATV in Canada, Solomon served as president when they opened Canadian offices; it was there that Pegi learned the in’s and out’s of the music industry, including both publishing and master licensing. She then returned to SRO and helped start their entry into the publishing business, which would become instrumental as SRO evolved from an artist management and booking agency into a full service entertainment group.
“My greatest skill is that I screw up everything, but I only screw it up once.”
SRO-Anthem and Pegi are strong believers that in the music business, when all is said and done, it all comes back to the artist. “They put bums in seats,” she says, recalling how Rush would sell twice as many tickets for a UK tour as copies of the record the tour was supporting. The point of the business is the artists, so SRO developed a “let’s try this” mentality towards getting into new music businesses. Along with Danniels, Pegi and the SRO team became involved in whatever aspects of the music industry they had to in order to get their artists heard. It was flexible and experimental, as SRO went from a management company to become a publisher, a label, and handle touring duties as needed. “My greatest skill is that I screw up everything,” Pegi quips, “but I only screw it up once.” True to her word, SRO’s approach might have been experimental but it paid off. The company rose to prominence representing (and publishing) Canadian legends like Rush, Steven Page, and The Tea Party, to name a few.
Looking forward, Ms. Cecconi believes that this kind of flexible and artist-driven approach is the future of the music publishing industry. “They’re going to have to be the new 360 companies … they will be breaking artists, they’re going to be the next wave of the industry.” As opposed to the path SRO took as a management and booking agency that branched into music publishing, Pegi sees a bright future in music publishers branching back the other way. Publishers will need to take responsibility for getting music out there and take on new roles in the process of bringing music to people. “Publishers are grass roots with music,” they understand that, fundamentally, it’s all about the song. Now they need to take that understanding into new areas and become more involved in the process of bringing artists and their songs to listeners.
As CMRRA prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary later this year, we turn our minds to the future and how CMRRA will continue to evolve along with the music publishing industry. Pegi notes that CMRRA has been uniquely adept at looking ahead to the future of the music industry. “CMRRA foresaw the decline in physical goods faster than anyone else, so they set themselves up with broadcast mechanicals … CMRRA was smart in licensing [digital downloads].” Now more than ever that kind of foresight, as well as flexibility and efficiency, will be integral in adapting to a changing industry.
CMRRA is proud that Pegi Cecconi is being recognized for her significant contributions to the Canadian music industry. Her foresight, openness to change, and passion for artists have brought her and SRO great success, and we congratulate her for everything she’s accomplished. CMRRA joins this true pioneer in looking forward to what the future holds for Canadian music.