Quantcast
JASON ILEY: “THE BEST PLAYERS” AND THE STATE OF PLAY

“It’s been an amazing three years,” says Jason Iley, reflecting on his tenure thus far as Sony’s U.K. boss. He recalls a talk he recently gave during a company meeting where he emphasized “the transformation we’ve made with the executives we’ve brought into the company.” That transformation includes the acquisition of Ministry of Sound and the installation of MoS MD David Dollimore as the new head of RCA, while the cutting-edge label’s Dipesh Parmar stepped up to run it under the Sony banner; landing distinguished exec Ferdy Unger-Hamilton as the new Columbia head; anointing Tyler Brown as Syco MD; and bringing in innovative imprints Black Butter and Insanity, as well as reinvigorating Relentless.

There were plenty of other high points to touch on—big marketshare gains, taking nine of 11 trophies at this year’s BRIT Awards and an array of global hits. But Iley reserves his greatest praise for the label execs empowered on his watch.

“I’m making my bed with these executives,” he reflects, “so my destiny is now in their hands! If you have a football team, you want the best players, and we have them. Let’s hope they deliver [laughs].”

Saluting Sony Music overlord Rob Stringer and the U.S. label heads, Iley also underscores the harmonious relationship with the team across the pond, emphasizing recent successes including #1 albums from Foo Fighters, Harry Styles and P!nk, plus platinum #1 singles from DJ Khaled, French Montana and Camila Cabello—topping the U.K. charts for the third consecutive week.

Iley notes the Black Butter deal was among the first things he negotiated after departing Roc Nation to take the Sony gig. “I was very fond of Henry Village and Joe Gossa before I went to America; I immediately called them when I knew I was coming back,” he recalls. “They have brought a new youthful energy to the company. It’s been fantastic to watch how they’ve grown as executives and future leaders.”

Of the MoS team, he observes, “I was always a huge fan of David, Dipesh and Naz Idelji, who does the compilations. I clearly didn’t realize we were going to have to buy the company to get them! But it worked out really well with David running RCA; he’s taken that company through a transformation, while signing some great acts already.”

When it came to Unger-Hamilton, previously Polydor chief, there was the added virtue of shared history. “Ferdy and I had a great working relationship at Island Records, which was one of the most amazing parts of my career,” Iley remembers. “There was me, Ferdy, Paul Adam, Louis Bloom and Darcus Beese—and everyone was having hits, particularly Ferdy with Keane; I knew I wanted to employ him when I came back. That took a lot of work and effort, so I’m delighted he’s in. Columbia won the 2017 Music Week A&R award, their marketshare in albums doubled and they’ve had six #1 albums this year, which is more than any label. Under Ferdy,  they’re creatively evolving and having huge success.”


As for Syco’s stewardship, he adds, “In Simon [Cowell]’s and my mind, there was no question that anyone other than Tyler should run Syco—after all, he had been responsible for A&Ring the biggest boy band of our generation with 1D—that was a no brainer.”

“Since Jason took over at Sony, we have noticed the vibe within the company has become extremely positive,” observes Modest! Management’s Richard Griffiths, who also praises the addition of execs like Unger-Hamilton and Dollimore. “Everyone seems far more focused.”

Iley’s affinity with his artists, meanwhile, is reflected back. “In all my years at Sony,” declares singer Paloma Faith, “Jason is by far my favorite human to have encountered. He is determined and artist-friendly and has a really admirable attitude towards running the company. I’ve noticed huge changes since he started and I am now officially one of his disciples.”


Sony’s blighty boss is naturally bullish on the emerging marketplace. “What’s happening with streaming is fantastic,” Iley says, but he cautions against complacency. “Some time ago, you asked me about breaking new acts,” he notes. “I said weak A&R executives were blaming streaming for the lack of breakthrough acts, that we have to continue to invest in A&R and not sit back and say, ‘Well, the numbers are up’. So that is what we have done.”

Iley adds he’s excited about future plans, which include combining the sync, creative, digital, brands and insight teams to maximize their natural synergies. But ultimately, he underscores bedrock values when cultivating real artists with “good old-fashioned gut instinct.”

“You hear a song, you meet an artist and you love that song and you love that artist,” he says. “It’s not all about research and graphs.”

THINGS THAT MAKE US
GO HMMMM
Lenny Beer's trending topics. (12/8a)
AIRHEAD: BLOWING SMOKE
Inside the Secret Committee. (12/8a)
PUB CRAWLING: BIG NOMS, HEAVY STREAMS AND FAT CHECKS
The year in music publishing (12/8a)
CTRL MEETS ALT-DELETE
A SZA-ling photo op (12/8a)
LUKE BRYAN KNOWS HIS COUNTRY
It'll be #1 next week...unless something crazy happens. (12/8a)
MORE GRAMMY SECRETS
The biz talks committee.
NOT PIZZA AGAIN!
Seriously, can we order something else?
A BIG FAT DEAL
With a gigantic check. Soon.
WE'RE ON TWITTER
You follow?
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)