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Sony’s Music Recording and Music Publishing Companies Are Now One

Sony reorganizes its publishing and recorded music businesses to mirror the structure of Warner and Universal

Amy X. Wang Jul 18, 2019

Justin Timberlake, a longtime Sony artist, performs. Photo: Rolf Klatt/Shutterstock

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Sony Music Entertainment and Sony/ATV — Sony’s recorded music and publishing divisions, respectively — will come together under one umbrella company next month, creating a structure in line with that of the other two major music companies. In an internal memo sent on Wednesday and reviewed by Rolling Stone, Sony Corporation CEO Kenichiro Yoshida told colleagues that the two entities will become one large “Sony Music Group” under current Sony Music Entertainment chairman Rob Stringer.

While SME Japan will remain a separate entity, SME and Sony/ATV Music Publishing will now both report to Stringer, who will run both SME and the new umbrella company. The reorganization means that Sony’s record labels and artist roster — which includes formidable acts like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake as well as newer signees such as Travis Scott and Lil Nas X — will enjoy a “higher degree of collaboration” with Sony’s publishing business, though the two companies will continue to operate independently. It also puts Sony in organizational alignment with its competitors. (Warner’s recorded music and publishing divisions both exist within the umbrella of Warner Music Group, under the direction of CEO Stephen Cooper; Universal Music Publishing Group and Universal Music Group Recordings Inc also operate under one umbrella, led by chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge.)

“The purpose of this new Group is to further strengthen and solidify Sony’s position as a leader in the music industry and create new value for the company,” Yoshida wrote, emphasizing that “we felt it was particularly important at this juncture for Sony to take proactive steps to sustain its leadership position” because of the rapid pace of transformation in the music business thanks to music-streaming services. Read his full letter below.

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Sony Corporation CEO Kenichiro Yoshida’s note to the company:

Dear Colleagues,

As part of Sony’s business goals to increase collaborations across its entertainment units, be closer to creators and unlock more strategic opportunities, I’d like to inform you that effective August 1, we are bringing together Sony’s recorded music and music publishing businesses outside of Japan to create a new Sony Music Group. I have asked Rob Stringer to take on the role of Chairman of this new Group, in addition to his current duty as CEO of Sony Music Entertainment.

The purpose of this new Group is to further strengthen and solidify Sony’s position as a leader in the music industry and create new value for the company. This unification will help us foster a higher level of collaboration between our recorded music and music publishing businesses, while respecting and maintaining the independence and unique culture of each organization. Under this new structure, Jon Platt, Chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, will report to Rob. Jon will retain the authority and responsibility he currently has with respect to the operation of the music publishing business.

The rise of streaming services alongside other changes in the market has transformed our music business and created more opportunities for growth than ever before. As a result, we felt it was particularly important at this juncture for Sony to take proactive steps to sustain its leadership position in the music industry by accelerating the collaboration and value creation between our world-class recorded music and music publishing businesses to strengthen our value to artists, songwriters and business partners.

While Sony Music Entertainment Japan will remain a separate entity, reporting to me, I would like for the new Sony Music Group and SMEJ to continue and further strengthen their collaboration in the spirit of One Sony.

It’s been 51 years since Sony entered the music business through a joint venture of CBS Sony Records in 1968. And, with the acquisition of EMI Music Publishing in 2018, Sony has become an even stronger music company.

I have the utmost respect and trust in Rob and Jon who are outstanding leaders with enormous industry expertise and have the strong support of their employees, artists and songwriters. Working together, and with your help, I am confident they will lead Sony Music Group to a new level of success, remaining the world’s most artist and songwriter-friendly music company, and further strengthening and securing our legacy for the future.

Kenichiro Yoshida
President and CEO
Sony Corporation

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