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News June 15, 2022

Sony Music Hits Reset With Vanessa Picken Appointment

Senior Journalist, B2B
Sony Music Hits Reset With Vanessa Picken Appointment

With Vanessa Picken appointed as the new leader of Sony Music’s affiliate in Australia and New Zealand, the music major ends almost a year of guessing games, and presses the reset button.

In a long-overdue announcement made Wednesday morning (June 15), Picken was named CEO and chair of Sony Music ANZ, with effect from September.

Picken knows the music industry inside-out, and comes into the gig with international clout and a stack of experience working with majors and indies.

She owns and operates the digital agency and label services firm Comes With Fries, and has served as managing director at independent music giant [PIAS] since October 2020.

With Picken selected for the top job, Sony Music will hope to close a controversial chapter, which became a national topic du jour when long-standing leader Denis Handlin was sent packing, and several key executives promptly departed.

When Handlin was removed last June after 37 years at the top, and 51 years with the company, the dragnet was cast out to identify a new chief.

Since then, the domestic operations of Sony Music has been overseen from U.S. head office.

Picken becomes the first female boss of the music major, and brings with her a skill set that extends beyond any press release.

She’s a peerless multi-tasker, with a young family of her own, and with music running deep (partner Glenn Dickie is export music producer with Sounds Australia).

As news of Picken’s appointment spread on social media, Australian music professionals congratulated the new boss.

Sugarrush co-director Craig Spann wrote, “inspired choice.” The Picken pick, enthused veteran manager and promoter Karen-lee Herrmann-Smith, was the “best news of the year!”

Based in Sydney, Picken will report in her new role to Sony Music Group Chairman Rob Stringer, and will be expected to oversee all operations, artist signings, marketing, and business partnerships for the company in these parts.

According to Variety, she’ll strike new partnerships for artists with other affiliated companies and identify opportunities for artists across multiple entertainment channels such as music, TV, film, podcasting, gaming and more.

“I’m delighted to be coming home to join Sony Music Australia and New Zealand to take the company into a transformative next chapter. Our strategies will focus on music, allyship, and innovation, with a global mindset,” Picken comments in a statement.

“Sony Music has a renowned reputation for empowering its artists and creators, breaking down traditional barriers to put them at the centre of everything it does. We will reaffirm our commitment to the discovery and development of new and emerging talent across both countries, as well as expanding the commercial and creative opportunities for our roster of artists locally and internationally.”

The Sony Music post is a return to major-label land for Picken, who cut her teeth at EMI Music Australia back in 2006, where she served for five years working with the company’s local and international artists.

“After a careful and thorough recruitment process, we are delighted to have Vanessa join our company in such a key role,” comments Stringer in a statement. “Her impressive background covers so many areas of the modern music business in Australia and New Zealand and her recent leadership experience in the United States adds a global understanding to those existing skills. We believe Vanessa will be a trailblazing executive leading Sony Music Australia to an exciting future.”

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