News June 21, 2021

Denis Handlin to exit ARIA board

Denis Handlin to exit ARIA board

will no longer be on the board, following his dramatic exit as CEO of today.

Handlin has been with Sony Music for more than 50 years, and has been CEO since 1984.

His abrupt exit today, however, means he can not longer act as chairman for the music industry’s peak body.

“Denis Handlin is on the ARIA board as a representative of Sony Music. As he no longer works at Sony Music, he can no longer be on the ARIA board,” an ARIA spokesperson told TMN. 

Handlin’s immediate departure from the company he has called home for decades was announced today in an internal note from global CEO Rob Stringer.

“I am writing to let you know that Denis Handlin will be leaving Sony Music Entertainment after more than 50 years with the compant, effective immediately,” Stringer’s note said.

“It’s time for a change in leadership. And I will be making further announcements in terms of the new direction of our business in Australia and New Zealand in due course.”

Handlin is Sony Music’s longest-serving employee globally and has been with the organisation since 1970 when he joined what was then known as the Australian Record Company in the distribution division.

He’s since held a number of senior positions including national promotions manager, director of marketing, and general manager of marketing and sales.

He became CEO of the Australian operation in 1984.

While Handlin has been at the top, the company has undergone numerous transformations, including with the global merger of Sony Music and Bertelsmann Media Group in 2004, forming Sony BMG Australia & New Zealand locally. It then rebranded to Sony Music Entertainment in 2009.

The company noted that during Handlin’s tenure, it’s also successfully diversified into new areas including video games, music publishing, DVDs and CD manufacturing, digital and online portals, merchandising, and television and content creation.

“Denis is renowned for his highly competitive spirit and his championing of local talent. Under his leadership, Australian artists such as Men at Work, Midnight Oil, Silverchair, John Farnham, Daryl Braithwaite, Tina Arena, Delta Goodrem, Human Nature, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Justice Crew, David Campbell, Amy Shark, Tash Sultana, Gang of Youths and Ruel have achieved international recognition and success,” his company bio says.

More recently, however, Sony Music in Australia has been plagued with accusations of fostering a toxic culture.

Last week, it was revealed the company’s head office was intervening, launching an investigation into harassment and bullying at the local outfit.

The investigation follows the April departure of vice president of commercial music, Tony Glover, who was accused of inappropriate behaviour. Glover denied the allegations.

The new investigation, however, is understood to have a much wider scope and is said to be unrelated to Glover.

It then emerged over the weekend that Sony Music’s corporate headquarters in New York had engaged external counsel to conduct the investigation.

In the internal note today, Stringer did thank Handlin “for his extraordinary contribution to the company and its artists over his long career in the Australian and New Zealand industry.”

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