Inside the world’s No. 1 music publishing company

by Mia Rossi

May 1, 2018

Martin Bandier ’61, CEO and chairman of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, joins a panel of successful music business executives to discuss streaming, sync and their effects on the industry

Martin Bandier '61 speaking for the Bandier Program on April 10
Martin Bandier '61 speaking for the Bandier Program on April 10 Photo by Steve Sartori

“It all begins with a great song,” said CEO and chairman of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Martin Bandier. The music industry executive and founder of the Bandier Program at Syracuse University joined other executives to speak about the ways the music industry is rapidly changing on April 10.

One of these changes is a move toward collaboration to deliver hit songs. “So many hits and records today are collaborations,” said Brian Monaco, global chief officer of Sony/ATV. “It takes a village to make a hit,” he said. “You have song writers, artists, producers, top liners [people who write songs over a pre-made beat] all trying to make a song that stands out.”

Bandier said that the process of making these hits and collaborations is more complicated than ever. “The average number of song writers on a song today is about 4.5,” he said. “The world has changed dramatically. Now people like Jennifer Knoepfle [co-head of the Sony/ATV artist and repertoire department] have to deal with a multiplicity of writers and personalities.”

Technology is another force fueling change. Music consumers have switched from listening to CDs and the radio to subscribing to music streaming services. “This year the revenue we have from streaming exceeded the combined revenue from CDs and digital downloads,” said Bandier. “It’s a business that continues to grow and the volume is enormous.”

“There’s no doubt streaming is a growth area for the business,” said Peter Brodsky, head of business and legal affairs for Sony/ATV. “It’s really changed things for us because it has never been the case that we are dealing with the biggest companies in the world [Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook] who now find it very important to engage with the music business.”

Bandier said he believes that eventually these streaming companies will become more than just a place for people to listen to music. “They have become so powerful in our industry,” he said. “There will be a time when individuals who don’t sign up with a label will go directly to Spotify.”

However, companies that are not focused primarily on music also have their hand in streaming. “Amazon will become a very impactful player in streaming, and so will Facebook,” said Brodsky. “We were thrilled when just last year Facebook decided they wanted to be in the music business. The music business was getting zero dollars from all of the music videos that were being shared around Facebook. They [licensed the rights] to pass around music-generated content while they build their own music strategy.”

Television streaming services have also provided opportunities for growth. “It’s another opportunity for artists to get their music out there,” said Monaco. “[Television producers] are also starting to come to us to have our artists write original songs.”

This process of having artists’ music appear in mediums like television, commercials and movies is called music synchronization. “We have a big sync team and their entire job is to get out and pitch deals,” said Monaco. “Marty [Bandier] really pushes us to build deals, and then when someone wants to do something, we are their first call.”

Monaco said that sync operations have also been integral in building Sony/ATV’s profitability. “For a number of years CDs were dropping and digital downloads were disappearing, so we needed another revenue stream: that was sync.”

Through creating opportunities with sync and adapting to the new model of streaming, Sony/ATV has rolled with the punches of the changing music industry, and Bandier encouraged students to do the same.

“You can be entrepreneurial in this business,” he said. “You can create it, and there is no reason you shouldn’t.”

Mia Rossi is a senior broadcast and digital journalism major at the Newhouse School.