The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflection, even if you’re a top music business executive. And outgoing Sony/ATC chairman and CEO Martin Bandier is no exception.
Bandier is leaving Sony/ATV in the New Year, having led the company since 2007. And his end of year note to his colleagues, obtained by Music Week, sees him reflecting on a tenure that has seen him take the publishing company from the No.4 position to becoming the biggest music publisher in the world.
“I will be leaving this company in the greatest shape possible,” he declares. Also on the agenda: his verdict on the EMI Music Publishing acquisition, Drake, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Guy Moot, whose UK operation is singled out for having “another memorable year”. Moot has been heavily linked with the vacant Warner/Chappell job, with current W/C boss Jon Platt moving over to replace Bandier.
Here, we publish Bandier’s note in full, so spark up a cigar and enjoy…
This time of year is often one of contemplation as we reflect upon the events of the last 12 months and look forward to the coming year. As we prepare to take some time off for the holidays and enjoy a well-deserved break, for me this period of reflection takes on an added significance as I think about not only everything that we have achieved together in 2018 but since I joined Sony/ATV as Chairman and CEO in 2007.
As you know, I will be leaving the company at the end of March so this will be my final end-of-year message to you. But while I am sad that I will soon be saying goodbye after 12 wonderful years, I am also immensely proud of where the company is now compared to when I started. Back then we were only the fourth largest music publisher. Now we are the world’s No. 1 with a roster of songwriters and a catalog of songs that are the envy of the industry and a team of executives who are in a class of their own. It has been an amazing experience working with you all and I can say without hesitation that my time at Sony/ATV has been the absolute highlight of my career.
What is particularly rewarding for me is that I know that I will be leaving this company in the greatest shape possible. We are on course to achieve our best financial results ever, reflecting another incredible year for Sony/ATV and our songwriters. A major highlight was Sony Corporation buying out the other EMI Music Publishing investors, giving it 100% ownership of the company. I am particularly proud of this accomplishment given my long history with EMI where I spent 17 happy and hugely successful years and oversaw its rise to become the No. 1 music publisher, just as would later happen with Sony/ATV.
Whenever I look back on a year and sum up our achievements, I always start with our songwriters because they are why we are all here. This year is no exception but, as usual, there is not enough space to mention everyone that I would like to, so please allow me to highlight just a few of them.
These include Drake who has spent much of 2018 at No. 1 around the world, including in the U.S. where his songs occupied the No. 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 29 weeks, a record achievement for an artist in a calendar year. He was Billboard, Spotify and Apple Music’s artist of the year, had the year’s biggest Hot 100 hit with “God’s Plan” and was only prevented from having Billboard’s top album of 2018 by our own Taylor Swift, who not surprisingly also had another amazing year.
The multi-talented Lady Gaga’s career has risen to new heights in 2018 thanks to the movie and soundtrack album A Star Is Born for which she has received both Grammy and Golden Globe nominations. Ed Sheeran has further enhanced his status as a one-man hit machine with chart successes not just for himself but as a writer for a number of other artists across numerous genres, while recent Sony/ATV signings Cardi B and Travis Scott have firmly established themselves as global superstars.
I would also like to mention Queen whose amazing biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has become a major box-office hit around the world and helped to generate continued interest in the group’s timeless music, including among advertisers where a number of major brands such as Amazon, Google and Heineken have licensed their diverse songs this year.
Our creative successes are reflected in a very strong showing for Sony/ATV in the recently-announced Grammy nominations. We are represented on 118 nominations overall, including six of the eight songs competing for Song of the Year where there are nominations for Drake, Lady Gaga, Sarah Aarons, Boi-1da, Ella Mai, Sounwave and Geoff Warburton. Our other nominees include Cardi B, Taylor Swift, Pink, Camila Cabello, Travis Scott, Ella Mai, Louis Bell and Jorja Smith (who is nominated for Best New Artist).
Ella Mai, Travis Scott, Daniel Caesar and Lil Skies were among a number of new songwriter signings in the U.S. this year under Danny Strick and Rick Krim and their teams. Our A&R teams around the world have also been busy strengthening their respective rosters.
Led by Joe Puzio, our Finance, IT, HR and Administration teams once again supported all areas of our business and contributed to the achievement of our targets during the year. Noteworthy successes this year included implementing the new accounting standard for revenue recognition, providing extensive financial information and analysis which was used by the European Commission and Sony Corporation in connection with the acquisition of EMI, and working to consolidate EMI with Sony/ATV.
The completion of Sony’s acquisition of EMI was a major achievement for all of us and was cleared by the European Commission without conditions. The deal was a standout moment in a landmark year on the legislative and deal-making front. Under Peter Brodsky’s team in New York and Antony Bebawi’s in London, we completed a series of new digital deals, including a groundbreaking agreement with Facebook, and played a leading role in the U.S. in achieving significantly improved topline streaming rates from the Copyright Royalty Board and the passing of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) into law.
The MMA is particularly special as this historic piece of legislation will go a long way to delivering the fair compensation that we have long fought for on behalf of our songwriters as recognition of the essential contribution they make to the flourishing music streaming services.
Sony/ATV’s U.K. office under Guy Moot has had another memorable year, having scored No. 1 hits with local artists including Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris and Clean Bandit, renewed deals with key writers such as Calvin, Sia and Sean Paul and won Publisher of the Year at the Music Week Awards. Our international offices under Guy Henderson have also had a number of successes to report, including new studio complexes opening in Sweden and China, further digital expansion across South-East Asia and synch success across virtually every international territory.
Led by Brian Monaco, our sync team continues to excel and its many successes this year include licensing the Beatles songs “Come Together” and “Help” to Google and hosting a series of successful songwriting sync camps. We signed a number of licensing deals out of the French office with leading fragrance and make-up brands such as Chanel, Dior and L’Oreal Paris, while an impressive number of our holiday songs have been licensed for ad campaigns around the world.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for everything that you have done this year to continue to make Sony/ATV the world’s leading music publisher. I wish you and your loved ones all the very best for the holidays and I am looking forward to closing out our financial year in 2019 on a real high.