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Sony music confirms Doug Morris as new CEO

By | Published on Thursday 3 March 2011

Sony Music

So, Doug Morris is the new boss of Sony Music, or at least he will be come 1 Jul. Sony Corp announced yesterday that it has secured the services of the current Universal Music Chairman to take over from Rolf Schmidt Holtz as CEO of its record business this summer. As previously reported, Morris was first mooted as a possible successor for Schmidt Holtz, whose contract with Sony runs out this month, last December.

It was originally thought that the Sony Music CEO role would go to an existing senior exec within the company, but speculation that an outsider was in fact being considered began when one of the main internal contenders, Barry Weiss, announced he was moving to Universal late last year.

There has been speculation that Sony Corp bosses feared any promotion of an existing exec to the CEO job could stir existing internal tensions in the US branch of their record company, which still stem from the merger of Sony and BMG way back in 2004 – ie with Sony Music USA still structured around two divisions, the former Sony labels led by Rob Stringer and the former BMG labels led by Weiss, both sides would be offended if their man was overlooked in favour of his rival for the top job.

It’s also thought that Sony Corp top man Howard Stringer was concerned about how it would look if he gave his brother Rob the top Sony Music role – possibly resulting in reverse nepotism ruling another top contender out of the running.

Having decided to not appoint from within the Sony record labels, reports suggest Sony Corp bosses next considered Marty Bandier, the boss of the entertainment giant’s music publishing business Sony/ATV, but he declined the offer.

Which is when the more audacious proposal of hiring the 72 year old Morris – who was meant to be taking a back seat role in the record industry after stepping down as Universal CEO last year – first appeared on the agenda. Though that plan, of course, required careful negotiations to get Morris out of his contractual commitments to Universal. Said commitments are delaying Morris’s arrival to Sony until July. Howard Stringer will oversee the Sony music company himself between Schmidt-Holtz’s departure and Morris’s arrival.

Commenting on his new recruit yesterday, Stringer said in an interview: “He’s a very good motivator, and honestly there’s nobody who knows the music industry better”.