Sony/ATV employees to be paid ‘special’ bonuses related to EMI Music Publishing buyout

Recent months have seen industry chatter spiralling over Sony Corp’s $2.3bn takeover of EMI Music Publishing, which was completed in November last year.

MBW understands that, as a result of that deal, around $200m in compensation was shared between a small group of top execs at Sony/ATV towards the end of 2018. Some suggest as much as 50% of this money went to the company’s now-ex boss, Martin Bandier.

That $200m bonus figure was essentially a consequence of EMI Music Publishing’s value ballooning after Sony acquired a 30% stake in the company back in 2012.

Jon Platt officially started his tenure as the new Chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV on Monday (April 1). He takes over from Bandier following a successful seven year tenure as boss of Warner/Chappell.

As he took the hotseat, Platt must have known he would face difficult questions from Sony/ATV’s global employees over the EMI situation: MBW has heard that the $200m compensation has understandably become a thorny issue for many of those working at the publisher who missed out on a share of the money.

A twist in the tale: in a memo sent to Sony/ATV employees today (April 3), Platt revealed that, as one of his first orders of business, all of the company’s employees will now be “rewarded for their contribution” to the growth, and acquisition, of EMI Music Publishing.

“I’ve decided, with support from Tokyo, to grant a special one-time supplemental bonus to each member of the Sony/ATV team in recognition of this achievement.”

Jon Platt, Sony/ATV (pictured)

“I believe it’s very important, and senior [Sony] management in Tokyo agrees, that all Sony/ATV employees should be rewarded for their contribution,” wrote Platt in the memo, obtained by MBW.

“As a result, I’ve decided, with support from Tokyo, to grant a special one-time supplemental bonus to each member of the Sony/ATV team in recognition of this achievement… While there is still much to be done integrating certain functions of Sony/ATV and EMI, because of you, we have positioned ourselves for continued success.”

Platt told his global team he would be sharing further detail about the “EMI Special Recognition Bonus” in the coming weeks.

He praised the publisher’s employees for being an “incredible team”, something he noted that had been apparent in “various meetings and discussions that I’ve had since January, both with Sony/ATV employees and with senior management at Sony Corp in Tokyo”.


Platt and Sony Corp’s gesture lends credence to the idea that Sony’s music companies are positioning themselves as ‘doing the right thing’.

Last year, MBW revealed that recorded music company Sony Music Entertainment – led by CEO Rob Stringer – had surprised many in the artist and management community with its policy regarding the sharing of profits from its equity stake in Spotify.

Sony Music sold 50% of its Spotify stake for $768m in calendar Q2 last year. In paying out a portion of this money to artists and labels, Sony ignored any unrecouped balances which were ‘owed’ by these parties – meaning, in short, that a lot more cash ended up in the pocket of artists.

Warner Music Group, in contrast, allocated its Spotify share sale money against unrecouped artist balances, therefore keeping any ‘owed’ money within WMG’s coffers.

Universal Music Group announced late last year that, when it sells its Spotify shares, it will also overlook unrecouped artist balances, although UMG is (a) yet to sell any equity in Spotify and (b) provide further detail of its payout policy.

Universal parent Vivendi is currently selling up to 50% of the company, with valuations of UMG topping $40bn in recent months.Music Business Worldwide

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