Justin Kalifowitz operates Songtrust and serves as President of Downtown Music Publishing. Prior to Downtown, Justin spent six years with Spirit Music Group acting as Head of A&R, and held positions with RCA and Virgin Records. Justin has been named in Billboard Magazine’s “30 Under 30" Faces to Watch and Crain’s “Forty Under 40" Rising Stars of New York Business. Justin is on the Board of Directors for the NY Chapter of the Association of Independent Music Publishers.

This interview with Justin Kalifowitz on the topic of music publishing is a well of insight. His answers shed light on some of the key elements of the most valuable yet complicated areas of the music business. Newcomers and mainstays will have something to take away.

Justin Kalifowitz, 35, thinks both big and small. Since Downtown Music Publishing was founded in 2007, the company has made deals for the songwriting catalogs of Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, and Niall Horan; served as administrator for independents like Big Yellow Dog and the John Lennon and Yoko Ono catalogs; and expanded to Los Angeles, London, Nashville, Amsterdam and, in February, Tokyo.

But Downtown, based in Manhattan, remains dedicated to its indie roots. In 2011, Kalifowitz built Songtrust, an online platform that allows indie songwriters -- essentially anyone -- to register their compositions and collect royalties worldwide. While Downtown manages 100,000 songs, Songtrust administers 1.3 million, and the company reports collections were up 90 percent in 2016.

Kalifowitz has also been working on NY is Music, the advocacy coalition he co-founded in 2014 that helped the NYC Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment commissioner Julie Menin organize the inaugural New York Music Month, a city-sponsored event this June that includes concerts, conferences, and initiatives like 2,000 hours of free rehearsal space. With the city's monthlong celebration underway, Kalifowitz speaks about overseas growth, indie songwriters and New York's music economy.


Aaron Bethune.