LORD KNOWS A THING OR TWO ABOUT MUSIC

ALUMNUS DEFENDS RIGHTS OF SONGWRITERS

Dennis Lord

Executive Vice President of Creative and Business Affairs
SESAC Holdings, Inc.

by Becky Jensen (’93)

Dennis Lord (’84) travels the world, rubs elbows with celebrities, and fights despicable pirates. It’s all in a day’s work for this Renaissance Ram.

Lord is executive vice president of creative and business affairs at SESAC Holdings Inc., the first international music rights organization in the world, now with offices in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Portland, San Francisco, London, and Munich. The industry veteran, who has a soft spot for songwriters, works long hours to protect their intellectual property from piracy.

“Everywhere you hear music played outside of the home, a songwriter is supposed to get paid. Not the artist, the songwriter,” Lord clarifies. “Part of my job at SESAC is to make sure songwriters receive the royalties they deserve.”

Lord has long been a champion of the creative underdog because he was once a struggling musician himself. In the 1970s, Lord packed up and moved to Fort Collins to play in the band White Line Express and others, but he knew he wanted more. A good buddy in his band was going to CSU, so the 30-year-old Lord decided to head back to school.

“The American West Program, and CSU professors John Straayer and Sue Ellen Charlton in the political science department, had a big influence on me,” says Lord, who credits all three with helping him develop the critical thinking skills necessary to navigate life. He’s also grateful to CSU for his internship in the Colorado Legislature, which he managed to juggle around weekly band gigs. “I would play with my band at the Sundance Saloon at night, and then drive down to Denver early the next morning to work with then-House Majority Whip Bill Artist. That was incredible.”

“The people who taught me were passionate about what they were doing. I mirrored their behavior as I made choices in my own career, and it got me where I am today.”

– DENNIS LORD

FIERCE ADVOCATE

After graduating from CSU with a B.A. in political science, Lord went to law school and eventually opened an entertainment law practice in Nashville. A fierce advocate for the rights of songwriters, Lord went on to lead the Nashville Songwriters Association’s legislative efforts in Washington, D.C.

Just as Lord wore multiple hats while at CSU, he did the same in Nashville – working as a lawyer by day and a songwriter by night, penning Travis Tritt’s breakaway hit “Country Club,” as well as singles for country artists T.G. Shepherd, Ruby Lovett, and more.

Impressed by his wealth of creativity, business acumen, and legal know-how, SESAC hired Lord as vice president of writer/publisher relations in 1997. By 2005, Lord was named executive vice president, his current position. Lord also has held leadership roles in the Nashville Chapter of The Recording Academy, Americana Music Association, and Academy of Country Music.

Lord attributes much of his success to good role models at CSU. “I got a really excellent, varied, and open-minded education at Colorado State. The people who taught me were passionate about what they were doing. I mirrored their behavior as I made choices in my own career, and it got me where I am today.”

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