In A Lifetime: We Ask Johnny Lappin About His Life, Career, And Music Publishing

Following on from her review of his new book, ‘In A Lifetime – From Hozier To U2’, Lisa took the opportunity to send over a few questions to legendary Irish music publisher Johnny Lappin to ask him about his book, and his career.

Hi Johnny! I’m really learning a lot from your new book, ‘In A Lifetime – From Hozier To U2’, it’s been a fascinating journey! So my first question is –

What five adjectives do you believe best describe you?

Determined, Outgoing, Loyal, Impatient, Opinionated.

What do you think you’d be doing now if circumstances had allowed you to stay in a band? Do you think you’d still be performing? Just in Ireland, or on the world stage? If not, why not?

I was never talented enough to succeed as a performer. But there is also an ‘art’ in being a publisher, in convincing composers to put their trust in your abilities. Every time I put on my Publishers ‘Hat’, I am performing!!

If you had the chance to do your life over again – say you now were able to speak to younger you and offer some advice – what if anything would you do differently, and if so, why? Do you think younger you would listen?

Never make important decisions under pressure. Learn to say ‘no’ more. Always trust your instinct. Yes, I think I would’ve listened to my own advice as I was always hungry to learn more.

Do you believe in fate having played a part in your career, or is it a matter of hard work and happy accidents? Or something completely different?

Yes, I do believe in fate, but I also know that success is only achieved through hard work, self-belief, & determination to succeed.

What has been the best piece of advice anyone’s given to you in any part of your career? And the worst? And what about the best and worst advice you’ve given (in terms of the “advisee” putting it into effect)?

Someone once told me “There are no problems, only opportunities”, learn to spot them. Generally, I don’t normally give bad advice, but I have the ability to know when I get it wrong & am happy to accept that.

What direction do you see music going in the future, as a whole, and in Ireland? What can artists do to prepare for the changes?

The future of music is Digital. Artists must learn how the business end of the music industry works in all its formats both present and future.

What is it about a song/artist that makes you know that it/they will be a success?

By the quality of their creativeness. Their attitudes & ability to listen to advice from people who are trying to be helpful.

If someone wanted to get into music publishing, what skills would you recommend they acquire? Is there anything you think someone has to have in-built in them already, that can’t be learned?

Study how copyright works. Have an aptitude for attention to detail. They would need ‘ears’ to hear good songs which, unfortunately, can’t be taught.

You say in the afterword that you have no definite plan as to what you want to do with the rest of your life –  but it doesn’t take much to realise that you’re someone who always finds a window to jump through when a door closes! If you could do ANYTHING, money no object, everyone involved and in your life giving you free reign to do what you like – even if it’s something you’ve done before – what would it be?

If you can achieve pleasure from what you work at, life will be always be much easier. I’ve been lucky, but have worked hard at it. I’d still have worked as a Publisher because of my innate love of music.

And finally – what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does?

Do you think its all been worth it? Or would you just have preferred to win the lotto?

‘In A Lifetime – From Hozier To U2’, is available from Amazon, and bookstores.

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email

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