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Behind the Music Clearances

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Deborah Mannis-Gardner

Owner / President

Deborah Mannis-Gardner — the “Queen of Sample Clearance” according to Billboard, Forbes, Midem, Music Week, Okayplayer, Variety, and more — is the go-to expert for global music rights clearances, whether for samples for recordings; song usage in movies, television, and video games; or innovative applications such as the history of hip-hop Google Doodle. DMG Clearances, Inc., is known for clearing difficult copyrights from artists such as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Prince, and AC/DC, as well as intricate multi-song mash-ups. Whatever she is working on, Deborah’s first goal is to educate the client about the value of music rights, and she takes great pride in aiming for the fairest deal for all parties involved.

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Janice Shreve

Vice President

Having been a teacher for over 20 years, Janice was frazzled and ready for something completely different. When offered the chance to become part of the DMG team in 2009, she quit her lifelong teaching career and delved into the music sample clearance business! She found a new home at DMG, though certainly not an unfamiliar one, as Deborah and Janice have known each other since early childhood. Janice’s attention to detail served her well in contract administration and sample licensing during her first 10 years at DMG. And, she has been pleasantly surprised that an old hippie-at-heart can love so many different genres of music! To this day, she listens to many of the artists she cleared samples for, and continues her love of music across all genres. In January 2020, during a brief family medical leave, she made plans with Deborah to transition into sync clearances. Since then, she has found her true passion at DMG and loves working on clearances for tv, film and internet streaming.

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Rachel Lefkowitz

Vice President, Sample & Music Clearances

Rachel earned a Bachelors Degree in Photography from the Art Institute of Boston in 2004. While photography is her first love, she decided to pursue other avenues while looking for a career. After bouncing around the Publishing industry for 9 years, Rachel was given an opportunity to join DMG in 2014, and has never looked back. In addition to photography, Rachel loves music, Halloween, adventures, laughing, and most of all, her dog, Loki.

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“Hyperbole aside, I doubt there has ever been or ever will be a better sample clearance
whisperer than Rachel Lefkowitz” – Jeff Antebi, Waxploitation / Danger Mouse artist
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Deborah Evans

Consultant / Della Music Clearance

Deborah Evans began working in the music publishing business in 1998 for Beebe Bourne at Bourne Co. representing a prestigious catalogue of standards such as “Me and My Shadow,” “Here’s That Rainy Day,” “Unforgettable,” and “When You Wish Upon a Star.” She later joined the staff of The Harry Fox Agency for several years, working in both the synchronization and the mechanical licensing departments. In 2002, she moved to Helene Blue Musique Ltd. as Director of Copyright and Licensing, managing all areas of copyright, licensing, and royalties for the company. Deborah later took on the responsibilities of Director of Publishing for Stray Dog Music, a Brooklyn-based company handling a growing and diverse catalogue of indie-rock, alt-country, rock-a-billy, jazz, pop, and hip-hop. She is now an independent music publisher of her own, having started Della Music Publishing LLC in August 2007, and represents Latin dance, R&B, and hip hop artists such as Vein, Redman, and Faith Evans. In 2009, Deborah Mannis-Gardner and DMG Clearances came into her life and since then, the fascinating and challenging world of clearing music for diverse projects such as films, tv, internet streaming, video, art installations, album compilations, and classical pieces sampling other music or literary works, became incorporated into her workday. A musician herself, Deborah holds a Master’s Degree in Harpsichord Performance from Montclair State University and also spent many years teaching piano and performing. She resides in New Orleans with her husband Joe and daughter Gianna.

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Nicole Passon

Senior Director, Music Sampling & Licensing Administration

Nicole began her journey at DMG Clearances, Inc. in 2014.  She previously worked in the Wellness and Fitness Industry for over 17 years where she was grateful to witness the personal growth and accomplishments of numerous individuals who trusted her to be a loving source of support and motivation.

 

Nicole sees working in the music industry as a natural progression to serve others. Her connection to music is more than merely a love of music. It has always been her intention to see every moment as an opportunity to recognize the inherent kindness that exists within humanity and to be aware of the experience of peace that comes with an open heart. Music is one of the most powerful ways to connect to the deepest part of ourselves and to one another.  

 

She has been privileged to work alongside the DMG team and has received a world class education in the music licensing arena. She continues to learn, serve, and grow as these two worlds of music and humanity merge together.

 

Working with this incredible team and its unequivocal founder, has been an extraordinary gift that is celebrated with absolute gratitude.

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Andrew Rader

Manager, Sample Clearances

Andrew joined the DMG Clearances team at the end of 2019. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Radio-TV-Film. He has worked in different fields including Real Estate, Health Insurance and the Transportation industry. Although this is his first foray into the music business, he has always loved music, often raiding his parent’s music collection at a young age. Andrew comes from a strong customer service background combined with a deep passion for music. When Andrew is not working you can find him playing the drums, cooking, exploring nature, enjoying music and hanging with friends.

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Billy Toulson

Director, Sample Clearances

Billy’s experience in the music industry began with DMG Clearances in the Fall of 2014. After graduating from the University of Delaware with a degree in Interpersonal Communication the previous Spring, he seemed doomed to drift into a life of obscure and boring office jobs. That is until he stumbled into Deborah’s house for an unlikely internship opportunity that would change his life. Since receiving that crash course in music copyright, Billy moved to Nashville, TN at the beginning of 2017 to pursue his personal music aspirations. To support this mission of his, Billy appeared briefly at BMI and then with Warner Music Group for 3 years.

After 4 years in Nashville full of gigging, recording, and continuing to learn the ins and outs of the music business, Billy has relocated to Asheville, NC where the mountains are bountiful and the fresh air is evergreen.

Billy is extremely grateful to be a full-time employee of DMG Clearances. Contact him directly for any and all sample questions.

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Nicolle Johnson

Consultant, Music Clearances

Nicolle Johnson was born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif. She attended California State University Northridge, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Cinema & Television Arts. She landed her first career position in music publishing in 2005 with Universal Music Publishing Group. She gained a great deal of experience and knowledge assisting in various departments such as A&R, Royalties and ultimately accepting a permanent role within the Film & TV music clearance
department as Coordinator, Music Clearance. In 2014, Nicolle began working at Warner Chappell Music as a Manager, Sync Licensing, negotiating and licensing music clearance for high profile writers and artists under the Warner catalog. Nicolle’s time at UMPG and Warner was an unforgettable experience. Working on projects for Viacom Networks, Sony Pictures, NBC Universal, BET, Disney, Intl. commercials, various Films and TV productions. She frequented music awards, live tapings, concerts and met many talented artists along the way. After 13 years of working with two of the largest music publishers, Nicolle and her family took a leap of faith and moved across the country to South Florida. Here is where she decided to take her Music Industry expertise and open up her own Music Consulting office, NJ Music Clearance in 2018. In 2019, Nicolle was given an amazing opportunity to work with Deborah and her team as a consultant at one of the largest music
clearance companies, DMG. Nicolle’s extensive background includes projects with Google, Paramount, Cash App, Viacom, Netflix and various Podcasts. She currently resides in Sunny South Florida with her family, enjoying the beautiful beaches, art and music festivals, exploring the many different Caribbean foods and spending time with her family and friends.

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Wendy M. Scher

Consultant, Administrator

After a 24-year hiatus, Wendy is pleased to return to dmg clearances as a Consultant. Native to no particular place, Wendy was born in Boston and spent her childhood and adolescence along the coastlines of Wales, Delaware, North Carolina, New Jersey and Maryland before moving to the landlocked heights of Colorado 30 years ago. She has a BA in English Literature from Smith College, a BS in Pharmacy from the University of Colorado’s Health Sciences Center and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Low Residency program at the University of Alaska/Anchorage. Her poetry chapbook, Fault, was recently published by Finishing Line Press. Currently, Wendy lives in the foothills west of Boulder with her family. For additional information, please visit www.wendymscher.com.

Sharon Edelson

Consultant, Music Clearances

Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, living in many cities, states and commonwealths in between, and as far south as San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sharon Edelson moved to Los Angeles, CA on a whim in 1986, and never looked back.

Completely self-taught and mostly by experience, her paralegal career in the entertainment business blossomed out of more than one episode of happenstance beginning in 1989 where she found herself stumbling upon EMI Music Publishing on Sunset Blvd.; the rest is history.  Other stomping grounds have included Capitol Records, Priority Records, CEMA and EMI Special Markets, Gramercy Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Disney Studios, Universal Music Publishing, Pulse Music Group, A. Smith & Co. (American Ninja Warrior, Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Unsung, Unsung: Hollywood, Celebrity Crime Files), as well as two very well-known entertainment law firms including the Steve Winogradsky Law Offices, and was one of two entertainment paralegals at Greenberg Traurig, LLP where her clients included Katy Perry, The Rolling Stones, James Horner, Josh Groban, Incubus, Brandon Boyd, Sheryl Crow, Richard and Robert Sherman, Devo, the estates of both Etta James and Dimitri Tiomkin, and many others.

 

Since 2015, Sharon has run her own entertainment consulting company. Clients have included Netflix, Snap, Universal Music Publishing, Chicago Music Library, CS Plus, PhD Productions, and independent documentary filmmakers, musicians and artists. As of September, 2020, once again by happenstance, she is proud and very happy to be working with Deborah and her wonderful team of experienced and professional folks at DMG Clearances, Inc. Sharon’s never lookin’ back again.

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Kimberly Bush

Music Clearances Administration

Kimberly Bush (she/her) joined DMG in November 2022 after working in the non-profit sector for over 15 years. A graduate of Bucks County Community College, she has managed a non-profit movie theater in the Poconos, wrote and managed grants for numerous community organizations, organized out-of-school-time activities for students, and most recently worked with community partners, school staff and families to overcome barriers to education as a community school coordinator. All of these varied experiences have given Kimberly a love for constantly learning and growing! She is thrilled to bring her experience to the music business with DMG.

 

Kimberly lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with her loving husband, three awesome children, and two very adored poodle mixes. When she isn’t working, she spends time with her family, makes crafts, reads books and listens to music.

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Stacey Haber

The Music Firm / InsideBaseball Music Publishing / FoxPin Artist Management / IAFAR / Web3 Music Rights Group / Register One DAO / SyncLodge

Once tagged by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the music industry’s leading experts, Stacey has 30 years’ experience as a music industry executive, songwriter, lawyer, theatre/film producer, actor in London and New York.

Currently Co-Founder of Web3 Music Rights Group and Register One (soon to be a DAO), CLO of SyncLodge Ltd, Founder of SHHH Media, Inside Baseball Music Publishing, FoxPin Artist Management and The Music Firm, and Co-Founder of IAFAR Ltd, Stacey continues work in music, film, TV and theatre. She also founded Hope & Plum Book Publishing and has published more than 20 new authors.

Stacey delivered her first webinar on music rights in NFTs and metaverses this year and is part of the group drafting the licensing agreements and royalty formulae for Web3 music licensing. She advises multiplatinum superstars to emerging artists and has previously advised billion pound brands in the use of music in their marketing and advertising, and global icons in their contract negotiations as part of two well known but no longer existing City firms. Favourite negotiation - music client’s appearance on The Simpsons. Favourite client communication - Christmas card from David Bowie.

She is a member of the New York State Bar Association, American Bar Association, Music Supervisors Guild, British Phonographic Institute, National Union of Journalists, The Society of Authors and the Crime Writers Association.

Stacey co-presents the podcasts Money In The Air, Two Gone Blondes, and Empathy Sucks, presents the YouTube channel Sex, Food & Rock n Roll, and co-hosts the TV talk show Girls Talk.

Stacey is Author of A Scandal From Bohemia, The Man From Verona, Lola Steele, Sex, Food & Rock n Roll, The Plain & Simple Guide to Music Publishing UK Edition (co-author with Randall Wixen and Naomi Asher), Sports vs Music – Sponsorship Showdown or Perfect Combination (co-author with Fraser Reid), A Gefilte Fish Out of Water and six children’s illustrated books.

+44 (0)7895 918 556

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Jenna Soliman

Intern

Jenna is incredibly excited to have joined the team at DMG in the summer of 2022! She is a Philadelphia based student and rising executive currently pursuing a BS/MBA in the Music Industry, as well as minors in Business Administration and Spanish, from Drexel University. She is a member of Drexel’s Dragon Concert Series, which is responsible for planning and executing the annual Dragonfly concert featuring artists like Kehlani and Flo Rida. Jenna also spent over a year working at the NYC-based, music industry start-up, Finessed Media, where she coordinated and hosted weekly educational panels and events for the company’s community of rising artists and industry professionals. She is fascinated by the world of music sync, and hopes to gain in depth knowledge of the field in her time at DMG! When she is not working, you can find Jenna with her friends at concert venues around Philly.

Juan Aguinaga

Intern

Juan's passion for music led him to DMG in the Spring of 2022. A current student at the University of Delaware, he intends to major in music management. Throughout the years, Juan has gained an extensive knowledge and appreciation for hip hop/rap music, but does not limit himself to any single genre. Growing up and working with a family who owns a small business, he knows the value of putting the client's needs above all else and brings that same mindset to DMG.

 

His favorite interests are DJing, going to concerts, traveling, listening to music and collecting vinyls. 

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Meet the DMG pet unit!

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Kylie Mika

Intern

Kylie is a motivated college student majoring in Music Industry and Business at Drexel University, class of 2025. Her passion lies in sync and sample licensing, where she explores the fusion of different art forms to create unique experiences. She joined the team in Summer 2023 and plans to stay in the world of licensing for as long as she can. Previously, Kylie interned with FringeArts, a non-profit theater in Philadelphia, where she helped coordinate events and manage ticketing, and will now serve there as their volunteer coordinator for the Fringe Festival. She has also completed professional research on productivity in the world of education and music and the importance of bringing different art forms together for enhancing creativity.

 

Kylie is grateful for the opportunity to work with the amazing DMG team on industry-leading projects. She is eager to deepen her knowledge of music licensing and contribute to DMG's collective success. Outside of work, she spends her time going to concerts, exploring Philly, writing, and playing music.

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