John Josephson is Chairman and CEO of Nashville-headquartered SESAC Inc.
He has also served as Director of the company since 1992.
John Josephson: Career history
After wrapping up his education at Harvard Business School, John Josephson headed to the investment bank Allen & Co. He served as a Managing Director for the firm, dealing with media, entertainment, technology, and consumer internet properties.
Companies he worked with while at Allen & Co. include News Corp., Time Warner, Sony, AOL, and Viacom, among others. In 1992, Allen & Co. purchased SESAC, the company currently led by Josephson. Josephson became an investor, director, and board member of SESAC following the company’s acquisition. Josephson remained with Allen & Co. until 2014.
Whilst working at Allen & Co., Josephson co-founded and directed Downtown Music. Downtown Music offers their clients distribution, publishing, marketing, and financing with a focus on making the music industry more equitable. Josephson remained affiliated with the firm from 2005 through 2014.
After departing Downtown Music, Josephson took the leading role at SESAC, which at the time mainly focused on public performance rights.
John Josephson at SESAC
Josephson led SESAC’s business to expand into mechanical, synchronization, neighboring, and other rights.
Because of the combined rights nature of SESAC, it argues that it is able to provide a more efficient method by which music is licensed to consumers. The company is also able to better ensure fair artist compensation through this streamlined process. Their client list includes the likes of Adele, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, David Crosby, and over 30,000 other artists.
In 2017, under Josephson’s leadership, SESAC was sold for over $1 billion to Blackstone’s private equity business – in coordination with its affiliated funds.
It was the first Blackstone acquisition as part of the firm’s Core Equity strategy, which was designed for investment holding periods of ten-to-fifteen years.
This differs from traditional private equity investment holding periods, which last for three-to-five years.
Blackstone cited SESAC’s combined rights nature as a primary reason for their acquisition, a testament to the forward-thinking leadership of Josephson.
John Josephson: Professional philosophy
In 2019, Josephson spoke to Music Business Worldwide about the competitive landscape faced by SESAC as a for-profit company in the collection society space.
He said: “I always say that if you want a friend, get a dog; we did so in my family recently, and I’m already feeling the love!
“We always expected that the incumbent societies would use every tool available to them to make life difficult for us as a competitor, and that’s proven to be the case.”
John Josephson, SESAC
“Look, we always expected that the incumbent societies would use every tool available to them to make life difficult for us as a competitor, and that’s proven to be the case. That’s their right and we have no issue with it.
“We only have an issue when a competitor acts in a manner that’s not consistent with their obligations under the law. I don’t begrudge anybody’s right to fight back against us – in fact, I welcome it – as long as they’re fighting in a manner that’s legal.”Music Business Worldwide