Tributes to music publisher Rak Sanghvi (1967-2023)

Tributes to music publisher Rak Sanghvi (1967-2023)

Tributes are being paid to music publisher Rak Sanghvi, who has died aged 56.

He died in hospital in London on December 25, 2023. The cause of his death has not been confirmed by his family.

Rakesh Sanghvi worked in the publishing sector for more than 25 years and was a hugely respected figure. He held senior roles at Sony/ATV, Spirit-B-Unique and Spirit Music Group.

In 1997 he joined Sony/ATV Music Publishing as business affairs manager, where he worked alongside Charlie Pinder, and went on to become general manager and deputy managing director. He was promoted to MD in 2005 and was responsible for overseeing numerous successful artist signings, including Ed Sheeran, Rudimental, Jessie J, Gary Barlow, Kasabian, Robert Plant, James Morrison, Bruce Springsteen (UK), Maverick Sabre, NDubz, Katie Melua, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Beady Eye, Will Young, Foster The People, The Naked And Famous, Ian Brown, Jamiroquai, Razorlight, Pixie Lott, Alesha Dixon, KT Tunstall, Steve Angello (Swedish House Mafia), and many more. 

Songwriter signings included Eg White (Adele, Rebecca Ferguson), Fraser T Smith (Taio Cruz, Adele), Biff Stannard (Spice Girls, X Factor), Wayne Hector (Westlife, JLS), Don Black, Naughty Boy (Emeli Sande, Professor Green), and more.

Speaking to the My Beautiful Mistakes podcast with Andy Saunders in 2020, Sanghvi described his rapid ascent at Sony/ATV working with huge acts including Oasis, Manic Street Preachers, Travis and The Beatles’ catalogue.

“I absolutely thrived on being chucked in at the deep end,” he said. “I already had an understanding of the processes… Although it’s the same process, the refinements that you learn going around the wheel again and again are the thing that makes the difference in my view, in terms of your approach… 

“What was really exciting to me was being let out of the box of business affairs, and just to have relationships with management, initially, and then being let loose with some of the writers and the artists as well. That was very, very exciting.”

In 2012 he left Sony/ATV Music Publishing to become managing director of Spirit B-Unique, overseeing a roster that included James Bay, John Newman, Kodaline, Jon Shave (Invisible Men), Jonny Coffer, Corey Sanders, Jon Maguire, Polar Patrol Music, Johnny McDaid, Tiggs Da Author, Dagny, Beoga amongst many others. 

After negotiating the sale of B-Unique’s remaining shares to Spirit Music Group in 2019, he was appointed global president of the company with joint operational responsibility with the COO/CFO, reporting to chairman & CEO.

Sanghvi left Spirit Music Group in 2022 and became a consultant working across many aspects of the music publishing sector.

He was super smart, insightful, incredibly generous, empathetic, gregarious and funny

Andy Saunders

“I first met Rak in 2005 when he hired me as his PR guy on becoming managing director at Sony/ATV Music Publishing,” said Andy Saunders of Velocity Communications. “We became firm friends and worked together many times on his various projects over the years. He was super smart, insightful, incredibly generous, empathetic, gregarious and funny. He loved nothing more than to have a good gossip over a long lunch and, whilst he lived life large, he always took his work very seriously and was a consummate music industry professional. He will be very missed by all of us who had the privilege of knowing him.”

Jon Singer, chairman, Spirit Music Group, said: “With great sadness, Spirit Music Group mourns the loss of friend and music industry veteran, Rak Sanghvi, who passed away on December 25th at the age of 56.

"Rak was a beloved member of our music publishing community and will be greatly missed. His boundless passion for music and his dedication to nurturing songwriters and artists has left an indelible mark on this industry."

Singer added: "For those who were fortunate enough to know Rak, he was a one-of-a-kind light with the biggest heart. He was smart and generous. He let people know how much they meant to him.

"Rak Sanghvi was both a leader and friend to all who had the privilege of working alongside him.

"Rak was a devoted father. We send our deepest condolences to the Sanghvi family and their loved ones – they are in our thoughts as they go through this difficult time.”

Charlie Pinder, head of creative at Reservoir UK, said: "In 2000 I was made MD of Sony Music Publishing. It was a huge deal and to be honest, I was almost totally unqualified and unprepared for it. Rak was to be my deputy. I was a bit more of a sensitive, A&R guy – Rak the slightly tougher, deal-maker. I suppose we made a good team. For the next five years, Rak was my partner, confidant and friend. We had a lot of success (and failure) but, despite all of that though, my overriding memory is of us spending far too much time laughing our arses off in my office with the door closed, mostly trying to work out how on earth we’d found ourselves in this situation. And over the years since, this was pretty much the pattern. Rak was of course a brilliant music executive but for me, his most special, and rare, quality was that he, without fail, genuinely, wholeheartedly and joyously just made me laugh. He was also the only person who called me Charles. I’ll miss him." 

"I first met Rak when he was a young lawyer looking for an opportunity and watched his career progress at breakneck speed," said Jane Dyball, consultant, co-chair of Attitude Is Everything and former MPA CEO. "He was smart, he was funny, sometimes audacious and always brave. He was such a big personality that it’s hard to believe that he’s gone. Far too young. My heart breaks for his family."

Tim Blacksmith posted on social media: "Dear Rak, I want to take this time to thank you for your support over the last 20+ years that I have known you and also for the belief that you showed towards many, many writers and, producers and, managers. Sending my deepest condolences to your family and friends. Blessings."

"A lovely, lovely man whom was one of the rare top brass that gave you the time of day when you were starting out," said David Bianchi, CEO, Various Artists Management. "We made some of the most important records of my early career together and I’ll miss him a great deal."

Sanghvi was four years old when he and his family fled Uganda after dictator Idi Amin expelled the country’s Asian population in 1971.

After initialling settling in Leicester, the family moved to North London in 1978 and he attended Haberdashers’ Boys School in Elstree, where he was a high achieving student

He went on to study medicine at the Royal Free School of Medicine in 1986 but dropped out after one year and switched to a law degree at UCL in 1988. 

After graduation, he got a two-year traineeship at law firm Nicholson, Graham and Jones, where he worked with the British Film Institute among other film and TV clients. One of the first music catalogue sales he worked on was Roger Whittaker’s, when it was acquired by BMG.

He left in 1995 to join a boutique legal company specialising in music where he was seconded to Philips Media, which was in the same group as Polygram. There he worked across numerous music and computer games projects.

Talking to the My Beautiful Mistakes podcast, Sanghvi spoke about his love of music which led to him pursuing entertainment law and, ultimately, a long and successful career in music publishing.

“It was absolutely key,” said Sanghvi. “I remember having a turntable on a shelf above my bed, this was when I was 16 or 17. The daily ritual would be to come home and just listen to music. I was a massive metal-head, or more rock. My first love were The Police and The Jam, when I was about 11.”

Rak Sanghvi’s funeral will take place at 12 noon on Friday, January 5 at Hendon Crematorium, Holders Hill Road, London NW7 1NB. His family are happy for anyone who knew him to attend to pay their respects.


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