Music Publishing Veteran / 25+ Years Experience
Hi, I'm Benjamin Groff, and I’ve been a music publisher for over 25 years. I’ve worked for the majors for 12 years (1994-2006), and in 2006 was hired to start the 1st U.S. office of Kobalt Music Publishing and during my ten years as Executive VP, Creative I signed a lot of the key roster. Since 2016, I’ve been the 100% owner of my own publishing company, Brill Building (administered by Kobalt) as well as the owner of A&R resource and incubator label, We Are: The Guard (distributed by AWAL/Kobalt).
Having not just signed, worked and/or developed some of the biggest, Grammy Award winning, top charting writers and producers in the world including: Ryan Tedder, Greg Kurstin, Savan Kotecha, Ariel Rechtshaid, Cirkut, Jake Torrey, Bram Inscore, Lindy Robbins, I've also signed artists like: The Lumineers, LMFAO, Overcoats, Ariel Pink, Grimes, Kelly Clarkson, Active Child, Big Freedia, Caroline Polachek, SOPHIE, OneRepublic, Peaches, Tiesto, TOKiMONSTA and Cut Copy, to name a few. And while they weren’t my signings, I also worked closely in the past at EMI Music Publishing with Sia, Rick Nowels, Steve Kipner and Guy Chambers.
Originally from rural Mount Gretna, PA, with a population of less than 300, it all started when I got my first guitar. I was in the fifth grade when I attended a school assembly that basically changed my life. I was sitting there watching some older dudes on stage playing electric guitars thinking “this is the coolest thing ever” and “rock guitar music is epic, dude!” However, in my young mind, I thought those guitars must cost tens of thousands of dollars. How would I ever make that kind of money? Of course, I was wrong. They were only a couple hundred, and so I saved every penny I could by raking leaves, babysitting, chopping wood, running a mini golf course and anything else that came my way. Finally, there in front of me was my first guitar— a beautiful second hand Fender Bullet. Actually…kind of a lame guitar by professional standards to be honest, but hello, this was an ELECTRIC GUITAR - WOAH, DUDE (spoken like Bill and/or Tedd from their “excellent” adventure). I felt like a rockstar, and little did I know that this one guitar would inspire a lifetime’s worth of changes.
After attending Berklee College of Music where I studied songwriting and guitar performance, I left Boston to move to the Big Apple, where I held my first (paid…yes, that’s a key distinction!) job in the industry at Almo Irving Music Publishing (also known as Rondor, which was later bought by Universal Publishing), working for Molly Kaye, who gave me my first break in the music biz. Later, I got hired by another great great publisher, Holly Greene at PolyGram Publishing (no, not Polymer Records). I was responsible for maintaining the “tape” library, as the internet didn’t exist yet. Yeah, I was the guy that made cassette and DAT copies (digital tape) of all the orders that came in from the song pluggers at the company. (A Song Plugger is someone who would take newly written songs by the writers at the company and “place” them on other artists records…HINT: I hate to break it to you, Britney Spears and Rihanna (love them) don’t write their own songs).
As a musician and writer, I thought I’d learn a lot about the industry, and I definitely did. When you’re sitting in earshot of these powerhouse professionals, you learn how to handle things, how business gets done, and how to be a creative executive. After two years, I got a lucky break and got offered a Creative Manager position at BMG Music Publishing, from Danny Strick, Clyde Lieberman, and my past boss Molly Kaye who had moved out to the West Coast (and God bless the band, Extreme, who connected the dots between Molly and I. I met Molly waiting for a taxi in Boston after an Extreme rehearsal where my band rehearsed, as Molly was their publisher). My life after that became completely dedicated to the business side of music publishing, though I was still writing at nights and on the weekends, and holy crap…even getting major placements for my songs.
After BMG, I was hired by Jody Gerson at EMI Music Publishing, where I was Snr Creative Director. EMI Music was the #1 Music Publishing company at the time and it was amazing working with so many hit writer / producers, as well as learning from Jody day in and day out. It was an amazing environment also, as Jonathan Platt (now President of Sony / ATV), had the office right next to me.
After working at EMI Music for 5 years, I had a knock on the door from Willard Ahdritz, Founder and Chairman of Kobalt music. Willard had a radical new idea (actually, ideas I should say) for retransforming the music business through technology, transparency and integrity - and he’s done exactly that. I had the privilege to work for Willard Ahdritz and also Sas Metcalfe and Richard Sanders for a decade. I’ve learned so much from everyone, but especially Willard, who is not just a genius, but also his unique perspectives and energy, how he always puts the clients, writers and artists first, and how he has challenged the music business to grow and develop in radical ways - that no one ever thought possible.
Fast forward about 20 something years and working senior positions for BMG Music Publishing (5 years), EMI Music Publishing (5 years) and Kobalt Music Publishing (Executive VP of Creative, 10 Years) and my own operations...we've finally arrived at today. I've taken what I've learned through the years, both as a publisher, a musician, and as a Billboard charting songwriter and created these two courses.
See you at the courses.