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I.B. BAD: BANDIER, PLATT AND THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING

FIREWORKS AND COHIBA SMOKE: Shock and awe reverberated through the business on the night of 9/13, when word spread that Jon Platt would be leaving Warner/Chappell and replacing Marty Bandier as head of Sony/ATV. Getting Platt looks to be an enormous coup for the Japanese; like Sony Music head Rob Stringer, he’ll apparently report directly to Sony Corp. Prez/CEO Kenichiro Yoshida.

The numbers for the big man’s new deal—rumored to have been negotiated with corporate in Tokyo by Joel Katz (who declined to comment for this story)—are supposed to be life-changers with a massive guarantee, as well as the customary huge bonus programs Sony awards its top execs. Platt had a year-plus remaining on his W/C deal, but will exit before year’s end. Platt resigned from the WMG board effective last week.

Meanwhile, Bandier will leave on the highest imaginable note after concluding the deal of a lifetime: engineering the purchase of his former company, EMI Music Publishing. You’ll recall that Marty was pushed out from the top post at that same pubco by the very same Terra Firma bean counters who were decimating the once-great English company, pieces of which are now owned by the Japanese and the French.

You can put a cherry on top of Bandier’s run at SATV as the king of music publishing when the EU signs off again on the same EMI deal they approved seven years ago. At that time, Sony Corporate and the Mubadala-led consortium set up an incentive program for management, offering them a taste based on increased valuation. Those were famine times; nobody anticipated the company would spike from $2.2b to $4.7b—which caused those bonus amounts to balloon to somewhere in the neighborhood of $180-200m—to which MB is entitled to around half, and in which other high-level SATV execs are also participants. Prez Worldwide Creative Guy Moot, Prez/Global CMO Brian Monaco, Co-Prez Danny Strick Worldwide CFO Joe Puzio and Worldwide Business Affairs head Peter Brodsky are among those slated to divide up the rest of the pot when the deal closes, assuming nothing goes wrong. Though regulatory approval is expected to be a breeze, there’ll likely be some nail-chewing until those huge checks come through.

Tokyo is said to have informed Marty some time ago that they were rejecting his succession plan, and that they’d be exploring other options. But last week’s Thursday evening call to Bandier was still a surprise to him, because word of the Platt deal hadn’t leaked. With a chief exec secured, how much of the current team will join the new administration? Monaco has an A-plus reputation and is thought to be the best in the business at what he does, and Moot is highly regarded. Will the well-liked Strick have a new path under Platt?

The rumor mill is already in overdrive about potential successors for Platt, as Carianne Marshall prepares to serve as interim W/C head (according to Platt’s letter to the troops) when the chief exits at year’s end. Will a successor be sought inside? Platt’s co-heads of A&R, Ryan Press and Katie Vinten, have certainly been the subjects of speculation; with Vinten now locked into a WMG JV label with writer/producer Justin Tranter (she’ll also consult W/C), Press emerges as a prime internal contender. Some chatter has suggested a Press-Marshall tandem to balance creative and management. Meanwhile, Guy Moot—whose deal expires at the same time as Bandier’s in March, and whom Marty has always believed would be his successor—is now rumored to be a strong candidate for the W/C job. What other outside candidates would make the shortlist? Will Platt have input in the decision?

Platt will bring a greater black-music presence to Sony in the U.S., as hip-hop, R&B and related forms continue to have a strong grip not only on the charts but on American pop culture as a whole—as well as an ever-increasing global footprint, thanks to streaming and social media. Platt has deep relationships with some of the most important icons of the aforementioned genres, and is a leading figure in an unfortunately small circle of top black music-biz execs. But he’s never belonged in any kind of box, having had tremendous success in Nashville and the U.K. and demonstrated himself to be a versatile music man and genuine song aficionado. The smart money has him steering the ship from L.A., boosting NYC-heavy Sony’s presence on the West Coast, where the creative side of the music business now seems to reside permanently.

The City of Hope event on 10/11, during which Platt will receive the Spirit of Life Award from Jay-Z and Beyoncé will perform, should be a wild celebration of the big man’s career—lent considerably more electricity by anticipation of the next chapter.

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