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News June 16, 2022

‘History in the Making’: Industry Reacts as Vanessa Picken Gets Top Job at Sony Music

Senior Journalist, B2B
‘History in the Making’: Industry Reacts as Vanessa Picken Gets Top Job at Sony Music

It’s a new dawn in the Australian music industry as Sony Music, one of the three major companies, names Vanessa Picken as its new chief.

Picken will slot into the top job this September, leading Sony Music’s activities in Australia and New Zealand, and becoming the first woman to do so.

This is no ordinary leadership position. Picken represents a fresh start for a company that was led by Denis Handlin for 37 years, a reign that ended in controversy a year ago this month.

Ever since, the industry’s eyes and ears have been trained on that vacant position at Sony Music ANZ’s Sydney headquarters.

As news of Sony Music’s big announcement filtered across the industry Wednesday (June 15), TMN reached out to key executives for comment on this game-changing moment.

APRA AMCOS

“There is no better person globally to step into the role of Chair, CEO Sony Music Australia and NZ. Van is eminently qualified and experienced, and I have no doubt that she’ll define a new era for Sony Music and contribute enormously to the wider health and success of our industry.”

— Dean Ormston, CEO, APRA AMCOS

ARIA and PPCA

“On behalf of everyone at ARIA and PPCA, I am thrilled to welcome Vanessa back home to Australia and into this incredible role. I am excited to work with her as she leads Sony into its next transformative chapter, and look forward to what this will mean for the future of Australian music.”

— Annabelle Herd, CEO, ARIA and PPCA

Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR)

“I congratulate Vanessa on her appointment. This is a monumental milestone moment for us all to see a talented, driven woman take the reins in what has been a male dominated kingdom. I am sure Vanessa will excel and take the role to new heights. I wish her every success.”

— Maria Amato, CEO, AIR

UNIFIED Music Group

“Van is a great person and has always been at the cutting edge of whatever she’s working on. Sony has made a very smart hire and Australia in general is lucky to have Van back on home soil”.

— Jaddan Comerford, CEO and founder, UNIFIED Music Group

Jaddan Comerford

Artists Only

“Such great news! The overwhelmingly positive online buzz amongst the Australian music industry today is a testament to Vanessa’s stellar reputation and a sign of the immense relief everyone is feeling that Sony made the bold — albeit slow — move to appoint a female to the top job! The Sony team are incredible to work with and I’m stoked they now have someone to steer the ship after such a difficult year.”

— Jackson Walkden-Brown, CEO and founder, Artists Only

Lemon Tree Music

“I’ve known Van for years and I’m absolutely thrilled for her and her family. Hats off to Sony for getting this one right. We love the team there and are looking forward to the years ahead.”

— Regan Lethbridge, founder and director, Lemon Tree Music

Jaxsta

“Fantastic at last to see who is going to lead the team here in Australia and New Zealand for Sony Music. Vanessa is a wonderful woman and together with the awesome folks at team Sony who have been working tirelessly through change and uncertainty, I can’t wait to excitement blossom again with creativity, great signings, great deals and initiatives. Congrats.”

— Beth Appleton, CEO, Jaxsta

Chugg Entertainment

“It’s wonderful that Vanessa Picken has been appointed at Sony Music. It’s a fresh beginning for Sony Music and its very important for the music industry to see such a hard-working executives recognised. We’re lucky to have so many brilliant women working in our industry, including my colleagues Reegan Stark and Susan Heymann, and Annabelle Herd at ARIA.”

— Michael Chugg, chairman, Chugg Entertainment

Australian Women in Music Awards (AWMA)

“AWMA welcomes and congratulates Vanessa Picken to the role of CEO for SONY Music Australia and NZ. Vanessa’s appointment is history in the making and a longover due recognition of the important role of women in leadership in our industry. Women’s contributions have never been more important at this time of enormous cultural challenge and change.”

— Vicki Gordon, founding executive producer and program director, AWMA

Electronic Music Conference and VibeLab Asia Pacific

“The word ‘powerhouse’ gets thrown around haphazardly these days, but Van Picken is the real deal. Her appointment as Chair and CEO of Sony Music Australia / New Zealand is a big crack in the glass ceiling and gives a sense of inspiration, hope and trust that the future of the Australian music industry is headed in the right direction. I couldn’t be more thrilled for Van, the Sony team and all the artists who will be so lucky to work with her leading this exciting new chapter.”  

— Jane Slingo, director, Electronic Music Conference and VibeLab Asia Pacific

Wonderlick Entertainment

“We at Wonderlick are very excited to see Van step into this position. Her track record as a forward thinker, especially in the digital space, and strong people skills, seem like the right fit. Sony has a strong team already, and with new leadership finally in place, we have no doubt the future for Sony Music looks bright. We wish Van well as she takes on this new challenge.”

— Gregg Donovan, co-CEO and president Management; and Stu MacQueen, Wonderlick Entertainment, co-CEO and president A&R

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