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News October 7, 2021

Denis Handlin is ‘Facing the Music’ in new ‘Four Corners’ doco

Senior Journalist, B2B
Denis Handlin is ‘Facing the Music’ in new ‘Four Corners’ doco

The rise and fall of former Sony Music chief Denis Handlin is chronicled in a major ABC exposé, due to air next week.

Facing the Music, a Four Corners documentary, reported by Grace Tobin, will go to air next Monday, 11th October at 8.30pm.

The trailer for it is now online, and it features damning commentary from friends, insiders, artists and observers.

In it, Jagwar Jonze mentions a “culture of hiding things,” and various contributors speak of scandal and abuse at the major music company, which Handlin led for 37 years, until his surprise departure in June.

The promotional blurb reads, “Denis Handlin doesn’t look like the picture of a rock and roll god but for decades the Sony Music CEO and industry chair was one of the most powerful men in Australian musicWhen the stars came out to celebrate they always sang his praises.  But behind the smiles, the industry had a secret.”

Four Corners also promises to “reveal the inside story of Sony Music, where fear and intimidation stalked the corridors for decades.”

Handlin’s tenure at Sony Music was brought under the microscope by Schwartz Media’s investigative podcast series Everybody Knows.

As that series first went went to air last month, Handlin spoke for the first time of instances of sexual misconduct at the company, claiming that “immediate action was taken.”

The statement continued, “I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate or discriminatory manner.”

And, he added, “At any time I was made aware of this sort of behaviour, I took action to ensure that it was stopped and didn’t occur again.”

Handlin abruptly left Sony Music after more than 51 years with the company, a stint that made him the longest-serving executive within Sony Music’s global network.

News of his departure was confirmed in an internal email distributed by the company’s New York-based global chairman, Rob Stringer.

Australia’s music industry is finally facing its #MeToo moment, thanks to the work of whistleblowers, advocates, investigative journalists and the Instagram account Beneath the Glass ceiling, which briefly appears in the Four Corners trailer.

#metoo metoo australia cultural change sexual harassment

Carrying the momentum in 2021 were investigative reports published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, The Brag Media and NZ’s Stuff, while several key music industry figures on both sides of the Tasman were terminated.

They have included Scott Maclachlan, Warner Music’s former senior vice president for A&R at the label’s Australasia office, best known
for discovering singer-songwriter Lorde; former CRS Management director and ex-Benee manager Paul McKessar; and veteran Sony Music executive Tony Glover.

In recent months, Sony Music and Universal Music — two of the country’s three major music companies — launched independent investigations into their own corporate cultures, and a separate industry-wide working group has been assembled to facilitate change.

Those major label investigations are understood to be ongoing.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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