Pub quiz: Why music publishing is the new rock'n'roll

Jon Platt

Time was, record company executives would deride publishing as the ‘unsexy side of the music business’. The implication was that, while labels were out there putting their necks on the block in the name of rock’n’roll, the publishers just sat back and watched the royalties trickle in, usually without lifting a finger.

If that was ever true, recent upheaval in the world of publishing shows that it’s certainly not now. Sony/ATV chief Martin Bandier helped forge the modern publishing business so him stepping down from the company is real end-of-an-era stuff, even if his statement doesn’t sound like a man who’s about to stop making rain just yet. And let's hope he isn't, even the new, thrilling world of music publishing would be a much duller place without Marty's merry quips and ever-present cigar.

His replacement – although not yet officially confirmed – will be Jon Platt, the new school executive who has made such an impact at Warner/Chappell in recent years. Indeed, the biggest job in publishing may well be the only job he’d have left Warner for, but the opportunity to make waves at a publishing behemoth was clearly too good to turn down.

Jobs like that, or his old one, certainly don’t come up very often. In the meantime, Warner/Chappell looks to be in the safest of hands with COO Carianne Marshall but, should the company want to look outside the building, there will be no shortage of execs interested in building on Platt’s legacy (including a few Brits no doubt). We can probably rule out the reverse hiring of Bandier, but few other execs wouldn't be tempted by one of the best jobs in the publishing business or, indeed, the entire music industry. 

This merry-go-round shows you just how far the sector has come. Publishing these days offers much more than just a steady income; the sector’s A&Rs make decisions every bit as big and bold as their label equivalents. Possibly more so – some of the sums being bandied around for recent deals would make many label execs’ eyes water.

Those eyes might even be casting envious glances at the publishing sector nowadays. Publish and be damned exciting, we say.

To read our 2018 cover story with Martin Bandier and Sony/ATV, click here. To read our 2015 Big Interview with Jon Platt, click here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.


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