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Power 50 - #3: Denis Handlin AO

7 March 2019 | 6:30 am | Bryget Chrisfield

#3: Denis Handlin AO - Sony Music Entertainment, Chairman & CEO (Australia & NZ) & President (Asia)


In 1970, Denis Handlin accepted the position of junior record assembler at the Brisbane warehouse of the Australian Record Company (which would later become CBS then Sony). His passion for the business was undeniable and Handlin was soon promoted, taking on various roles over the next five years - promotions rep, promotions manager and state manager (Qld) - until he was elevated to national promotions manager and relocated to work out of the Sydney head office. Handlin was then appointed MD and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Australia in 1984 and president of Sony Music Entertainment Asia in 2011.


Sony Foundation, which has raised and donated over $31 million to youth-related causes since its inception, celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2018 with a series of sold-out events that achieved record fundraising results in Sydney ($1.4 million), Melbourne ($770k) and Brisbane ($375k). A special two-disc Drought Relief: Artists For The Drought Appeal CD was also compiled to raise funds to specifically support young people in drought-affected areas through the Sony Foundation. 

2018 started strongly for the company when Sony Music and Tencent (China's electronic dance music empire) entered into a joint venture, forming Liquid State to provide a new home for electronic artists to break within the region. Numerous Sony Music staff promotions - which were announced in July 2018 to further support growth in the Asia-Pacific region - resulted in some notable Australian artist activity in Asia, including tours and promo trips by Amy Shark, Cosmo's Midnight and Peking Duk. Sony Music Entertainment's global music and distribution company The Orchard also expanded into artist and label services in 2018. 

The Sony Music roster experienced some strong results on the ARIA Albums Chart last year as well, including Amy Shark's Love Monster (#1), RUFUS DU SOL's Solace and Tash Sultana's Flow State (both #2), plus live albums from Midnight Oil and Gang Of Youths, which both peaked at #5. Significant new Australian signings to the label in 2018 included Conrad Sewell, Illy, Kira Puru and GRAACE. 

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A global deal to distribute UNIFIED saw results (see: The Amity Affliction's Misery topping the ARIA Albums Chart) and Sony Music announced two more joint venture labels - 123 Music and New Tribe Music - in 2018. And 2018 was capped off for Sony Music with the acquisition of the entire multi-Platinum Savage Garden catalogue, plus Darren Hayes' first two solo LPs, from John Woodruff Management.


"Sony Music has always been passionate about developing and breaking Australian artists with the goal to have those artists feature on a world stage. Amy Shark, Gang Of Youths, Tash Sultana and Ruel were outstanding examples of this in 2018 with the recognition they received both in Australia and overseas."