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Revamp of Sony’s entertainment business could more closely align Sony Music with Sony/ATV

By | Published on Monday 12 December 2016

Sony Corp

Sony’s two global music companies – Sony Music Entertainment and Sony/ATV Music Publishing – could become more closely aligned as part of a restructure of the Japanese conglom’s American entertainment business, according to sources speaking to the New York Post. For its part, Sony Corp says that claims about an impending restructure are “nothing but baseless rumour and speculation”, so they must be true.

The core rumour being spread by the Post is that Sony is considering putting its flagging American movie and TV business Sony Pictures Entertainment under Sony Interactive Entertainment, its bigger and more successful video games division that houses all things PlayStation. The Post’s sneaky source who’s been chatting about the alleged plans says: “There is talk they are going to merge SPE with PlayStation”.

The restructure, if it were to occur, would put Sony’s movie studio and TV production house under Interactive Global CEO Andrew House. Although he would likely be pretty hands-off with regards the film and TV business, it would be a statement about the ever closer alliance of the film and gaming industries, and the latter’s arguable dominance commercially speaking.

It would also likely mean the departure of current Sony Pictures Entertainment chief Michael Lynton, and indeed his plans to exit might have motivated the revamp plans. The Post says Lynton has been considering a move into academia – or to a new role outside the US – while also noting that the Sony exec was an early investor in Snapchat and sits on its board. So an exec role there is also a possibility.

Although mostly involved in Sony’s US movie and TV operations, Lynton is also CEO of Sony Entertainment, the division that includes the firm’s global music businesses: record company Sony Music Entertainment and music publisher Sony/ATV. It’s thought that if Sony Pictures Entertainment was to shift over to Interactive and report into House, the music businesses wouldn’t follow suit, with a separate music unit being created.

While it is common for music rights companies that have both label and publishing operations to keep the two sides of the business – recordings and songs – separate, Sony Music and Sony/ATV operate more autonomously than the equivalent divisions at the other two majors, Universal and Warner. This is mainly because until earlier this year Sony/ATV was a joint venture between Sony Corp and the Michael Jackson estate.

Sony has now bought out its former business partner, of course, and a logical follow-on from that would be to more closely align Sony/ATV with Sony Music. A rejig of Sony’s wider entertainment business Stateside would provide the opportunity to do just that. Though, of course, we should note again the Sony Corp is saying “baseless rumour and speculation”. And the baseless rumour spreaders concede nothing has been decided yet, but reckon that any decision on a revamp will be made before the end of March.