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JON PLATT:
THE EARLY DAYS

With word that Jon Platt will be taking the reins at Sony/ATV, we offer this excerpt from a profile on the acclaimed publishing exec—which will appear in our forthcoming History of the Music Biz Vol. 3: Rainmakers—tracing an early portion of his extraordinary career.


Platt worked in a Denver sporting-goods store as a teen when—according to an anecdote related in Music Business Worldwide—he made the fateful decision to lower the price on a pair of kicks so that a cash-challenged customer could afford them. The beneficiary of his largesse was Thomas Edwards, a top local DJ, who tracked Platt down and offered to show him the ropes as an expression of his gratitude.

An avid student, Platt became a popular DJ in Denver in the late ’80s. Retired basketball star Chauncey Billups (once an all-star guard for the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons, now an ESPN commentator) remembers, “When I was really young, Big Jon was the big-time popular DJ at all the nightclubs and private parties and weddings. If you had Big Jon there, that was the place to be.”

In 1990, a comment from Public Enemy front-man Chuck D got Platt to envision a bigger future for himself. “He asked me, ‘What are you gonna do with your life?’ I said, ‘I’m good in this town. I got it under control.’ He said, ‘Every time I come to Denver, you’re the man. But unless you start dreaming bigger, that’s all you’ll ever be.’”

Platt read books about the music business, then moved to Los Angeles and began promoting and managing R&B and hip-hop artists. He met Steve Prudhomme, a Creative Manager at EMI Music Publishing, who later signed Platt’s first client, Madukey, as well as producer Kiyamma Griffin. In 1995, Prudhomme left EMI to join Warner Bros. and put in a good word for Platt to be his replacement.

Platt was a presence at the EMI offices even before he was hired. “He would go in the tape room and borrow DATs from the DAT machine,” Jody Gerson remembers. “And I would say, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t understand. Who’s the guy working from our conference room and taking all of our DATs to make music and having meetings?’ And it was Jon. He literally showed up and set up office.”

Gerson made it official by hiring Platt as Creative Manager. One of his first big wins was acquiring the publishing rights to TLC’s 1995 smash “Waterfalls,” a Grammy nominee for Record of the Year. He rose swiftly through the ranks—Creative Director, VP, Senior VP, Executive VP, President of West Coast, Creative. He spent 17 years at the company, rising to the position of President of North America, Creative.

“He was relentless,” Gerson recalled during a recent City of Hope event ahead of Platt's 10/11 Spirit of Life Award. “Very few executives I’ve hired compare to Jon and his integrity, work ethic and deep relationships.”

 

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