With Vanessa Picken named the new head of Sony Music’s Australia and New Zealand subsidiary, the music major is ending nearly a year of guessing games and hitting the reset button.
In a long-awaited announcement on Wednesday morning (June 15), Picken was named CEO and Chairman of Sony Music ANZ, effective September.
Picken knows the music industry inside out and comes into the gig with international influence and a stack of experience working with majors and independents.
She owns and operates digital agency and label services company Comes With Fries, and was chief executive of independent music giant [PIAS] since October 2020.
With Picken selected for the top job, Sony Music hopes to close a controversial chapter, which became a national topic du jour when longtime frontman Denis Handlin was packaging sentand several key leaders quickly departed.
When Handlin was removed from his post last June after 37 years at the top and 51 years with the company, the dragnet was launched to identify a new leader.
Since then, Sony Music’s domestic operations have been overseen from the US headquarters.
Picken becomes the music major’s first female patron and brings with her a skill set that extends beyond any press release.
She’s an all-around multi-tasker, with a young family of her own and deep music (partner Glenn Dickie is an 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”. Picken’s choice, according to enthusiastic veteran manager and promoter Karen-lee Herrmann-Smith, was the “best news of the year!”
Based in Sydney, Picken will report in his new role to Sony Music Group Chairman Rob Stringer and will be responsible for overseeing all operations, artist signings, marketing and business partnerships for the company in these regions.
According Varietyit will build new artist partnerships with other affiliates and identify opportunities for artists across multiple entertainment channels such as music, TV, film, podcasting, gaming and more.
“I am thrilled to return home to join Sony Music Australia and New Zealand to lead the business into a transformative next chapter. Our strategies will focus on music, alliance and innovation, with a state of ‘global mind’, comments Picken in a report.
“Sony Music has a reputation for empowering its artists and creators, breaking down traditional barriers to put them at the center of everything it does. We will reaffirm our commitment to discovering and developing new and emerging talent in both countries, as well as expanding business and creative opportunities for our roster of local and international artists.
The Sony Music job is a return to big-label country for Picken, who cut her teeth at EMI Music Australia in 2006, where she worked for five years 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,” Stringer said in a statement. “His impressive background spans many areas of the modern music industry in Australia and New Zealand and his recent leadership experience in the US adds global understanding to these existing skills. We believe Vanessa will be a pioneering leader who will lead Sony Music Australia into an exciting future.