meet roxanne oak: relationship manager for dance music genres

What made you want to be part of PPL – and what were you doing before?

I’ve been at PPL since January 2023 – my role as Relationship Manager for Dance Music Genres is new to the company. When I saw the job advertised, I realised it was a natural fit, suited to my metadata knowledge and my experience in and love of dance music. I knew it was for me.

While I love being creative, I’ve always gravitated toward roles involving data. Copyright and royalty collections are fundamental parts of the music business, and what drew me to working at PPL was the opportunity to focus on the dance community in this area. Dance music is in my soul and this role enables me to be hands-on and offer dedicated support to our members.

Before PPL, I was part of the metadata team within Warner Music Group, preparing their repertoire for the transition to a new PPL-operated system called the RDX (Repertoire Data Exchange). Prior to that, I worked as a metadata specialist for Universal Music Group and as a Publishing and Remix Manager for Club Class Music Management. I’ve been in the music industry for over 13 years and primary within dance music. It’s a passion and hopefully I’ll keep doing it for the next 30 years.

Tell us about a typical day in your role?

Most of my day is usually spent speaking to dance music managers, performers, and rights holders, ensuring their PPL accounts and repertoire are in the best position for rights collection.

This involves analysing data within Excel reports, and advising on ways to help members maximise their income revenue. Additionally, I spend time finding new music, new performers, and new labels so I can explore opportunities to forge new relationships.

I’ve recently visited Amsterdam’s Dance Event (ADE), a dance music conference, and earlier this year spent time at International Music Summit (IMS) in Ibiza. With the dance music scene booming throughout the world, there are always people to meet, conversations to have, and networks to build.

What are your top priorities right now?

My number one priority is to establish strong relationships with PPL’s dance music members. I’m also focused on helping to educate those who seek support regarding how PPL can help them with their recorded data, which will boost their public performance revenue.

What are some of the biggest challenges?­­

The marketplace for public performance collection is competitive so visibility is essential, and that’s why a big part of my role involves highlighting PPL’s unique selling points and the fantastic support and service we can offer to our members.

How have you seen PPL make a positive impact for the artists and organisations you work with?

I’m very proud that PPL is a non-profit organisation that exists purely for the benefit of performers and rights-holders. Further to that, it’s always great to see the positive impact made through PPL’s charity work, including the PPL Momentum Music Fund, through which emerging performers can apply for grants to help kickstart their career.

On a more local level, PPL is always looking for new ways to benefit our members, and that includes creating genre specialist roles like mine for dance music and the equivalent roles in black music and classical music. These exist alongside our dedicated departments, such as the licensing team, distribution team and international team, to name just a few, which are constantly improving and expanding their processes.

We work proactively with other collection societies around the world to make sure our members always get the royalties to which they are entitled.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?

It’s knowing that I’m helping performers and rights holders maximise their income. I’ve seen several cases where performers might be missing from contributor lineup for a recording that they’ve made an audible contribution on, or they completely lack a PPL account, or they are missing metadata from a recording. This can leave their contribution revenue in limbo if the recorded music receives airplay or is played publicly.

In such cases, I proactively reach out to these individuals, provide guidance, and assist them with any queries they might have. This not only ensures that they receive the income they deserve but also educates them on navigating PPL, to assist with their future releases. A track that starts small can become a beast of a record and that’s why it’s so important to be registered with us as soon as possible.

On a local scale, it is encouraging to witness a growing number of clubs integrating music recognition technology into their venues. PPL has been in collaboration with DJ Monitor for several years and now, in partnership with Pioneer DJ, we are actively involved in collecting music use data from clubs. DJ Monitor meticulously monitors music played at events, festivals, and venues, transmitting this valuable information to PPL. As this service becomes more widely adopted across various establishments, the reported set lists to PPL will become increasingly accurate, ensuring fair compensation for performers based on their use.

What are you most excited about in the dance music world?

Dance music is becoming increasingly exciting and receiving the recognition it deserves in the mainstream. This is evident by the growing number of daytime radio plays, the increased collaborations between pop performers and dance artists, and the signing of more dance-based labels by majors.

Independent dance record companies are also growing. Hospital Records, a drum & bass label, won the AIM Award for ‘Best Independent Label’ in 2023, which is an amazing achievement. And even the Grammy Awards have introduced a new category, ‘Best Pop Dance Recording’ in addition to the existing categories of ‘Best Dance/Electronic Recording’ and ‘Best Dance/Electronic Album’. This change underscores the growing popularity and excitement surrounding dance music.

Who are your ones to watch?

There are some incredible women coming up in dance music. I love Camden Cox – everything she touches is gold (and yes, she has a song called Gold, which I love).

Clementine Douglas – what a voice! Tita Lau is on fire with her tracks and DJ sets, and Flava D – talent, talent, talent. She’s representing for the drum & bass world.

What’s a track that always makes you smile – and why? 

There are literally hundreds of dance tracks that make me smile, and there’s such a broad range between house, drum & bass, and garage. It’s just music that energises me and reminds me of so many happy memories throughout my life.

I do love a bit of cheesy music though, and for some reason the Billy Ocean track ‘When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going’, it is my one of my top 10 pick-me-up songs. It’s genius and I’m not sorry to admit it.

And finally, what new track should everyone have on their playlist?

Honestly, it’s impossible to pick just one! Music is so subjective to time, location, and mood so with so much quality coming through in dance music, I’d be torn in only choosing one .