Key Songs In The Life Of… Jon Platt

MBW’s Key Songs In The Life Of… is a sequence by which we ask influential music trade figures in regards to the tracks which have – to this point – outlined their journey and their existence. This time, it’s the flip of Jon Platt, the worldwide Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Publishing. We actually love this sequence, which initially started life in our Music Enterprise UK journal, and you’ll count on much more of it to seem on MBW within the months and years forward.

What hyperlinks Run DMC, Queen, Eminem, Sammy Davis Jr., and Jay-Z?

They’re all musical icons, in fact. And, positive, all of them have offered ‘fairly a couple of’ information over time.

However they’ve additionally every soundtracked the existence of Jon Platt – from fourth grade, all the way in which to Chairman & CEO of the No. 1 music writer within the world league desk.

Whereas MBW was in California just lately, we visited Platt in his workplace at Sony‘s L.A HQ.

We set him an inconceivable problem: Whittle down all the wonderful songs he’s heard in his time on earth to this point, and spotlight only a handful which have had the most important impression on his life, and who he’s as an individual.

Jon’s solutions, and the autobiographical tales behind every one, advised us greater than we bargained for about his upbringing, his entry into the music enterprise, and what makes a real musical genius in his eyes.

In addition they advised us a lot about how significantly he takes his duty (a) in supporting songwriters, and (b) as the only African American government operating a multinational main music firm.

(Platt’s operating that main music firm reasonably properly: In accordance with MBW’s learn of Sony’s fiscal outcomes, Sony’s world music publishing operation, of which Sony Music Publishing makes up the overwhelming majority of operations, generated USD $1.72 billion in 2021, up 19.7% YoY.)

Right here, in Jon’s phrases – and within the order he picked them – are his private Key Songs, and the tales they encourage…

1) It’s like that, Run DMC (1983)

Run-D.M.C – the picture of Run-D.M.C, what they meant for somebody my age at the moment – was life-changing for me.

When this report got here out, I used to be an aspiring DJ, I might need been 18 years outdated, dwelling in Colorado. These have been the times when artists would do an A and a B aspect: Sucker M.Cs [the B-side] grabbed me first, then I found It’s Like That was simply pretty much as good.

There have been different hip-hop songs that I appreciated, whether or not it was Sugarhill Gang or Kurtis Blow, and I used to be a giant fan of Grandmaster Flash and the Livid 5. However Run DMC was the primary group that I cherished.

When the album got here out [the self-titled Run-D.M.C, 1984], I couldn’t cease taking part in it. After which after a 12-inch known as Collectively Endlessly – which was recorded in a park or one thing – every thing Run-D.M.C did, I used to be in.

“my mates and I drove to Dallas to see Run-D.M.C; 5 of us in my Ford Granada.”

Following the discharge of the Elevating Hell album [1986], Run-D.M.C went on tour. They weren’t taking part in in Denver, however they have been taking part in the Contemporary Fest in Dallas, Texas, on the Six Flags amusement park. So my mates and I drove to Dallas to see Run-D.M.C; 5 of us in my Ford Granada [laughs].

I met [Run D.M.C] in Dallas; I went out of my approach to discover what resort they have been staying in and booked myself into the identical one. And that’s how I started to fulfill individuals like Lyor Cohen, Invoice Stephney, Invoice Adler, these Def Jam / Rush Administration legends.

As I’ll clarify to you later, after I was DJ’ing in Denver, Def Jam began sending me information; that’s the way it all type of began coming collectively.

A comic story in regards to the [Fresh Fest] present was that the line-up was The Fats Boys, adopted by Whodini, after which Run-D.M.C. Nevertheless, firstly of the present, this younger child comes out and begins dancing and getting the gang going, simply killing it.

Quick ahead a few years later, that younger child is one among my closest mates – Jermaine Dupri.

2) Public Enemy No.1 (1987)

By this level, I’m a longtime DJ in Denver, and I’m taking part in at this membership known as Norman’s Place, to teenagers and school college students.

There’s a man from Denver named Dave ‘Funken’ Klein, who would come to my events. Dave in some way will get a summer season internship with Def Jam, after which finally ends up getting employed full-time. Dave is sending me information infrequently, telling Def Jam, ‘My good friend in Denver is the man! He performs all of the rap information on the market!’

Sooner or later I obtained a name from Dave, and he says: ‘Hey, are you able to do me a favor? If I ship you this report, are you able to play it at your events?’ I used to be like, yeah, positive.

So he sends me a report [Public Enemy No.1]. I play it at residence after I’m practising, and I’m like, ‘Oh, this can be a totally different sound that I’ve by no means heard, I don’t know if it’s going to work within the membership.’ However I play the music anyway, and it will get a response. The next week, I play it once more, and it will get extra response. Actually, each time I play it, it will get a much bigger and larger response.

So [Public Enemy No.1] is launched and turns into a success, after which the album is launched and turns into a traditional. Then at some point, Dave calls me and says: ‘Hey, I’m coming to Denver with the blokes; they’re taking part in a present. You wish to hang around with us?’

“the following day, I couldn’t get that dialog out of my head. The seed was deeply planted.”

So, I hang around with Dave and Chuck D, and Flav, and Terminator X, and we go to the venue collectively. Then Public Enemy finds out that the promoter doesn’t have the proper DJ gear [for the venue], so to assist – I provide them use of my DJ gear. And that started my lifelong friendship with Chuck D.

After that first assembly, each time Chuck would come to Denver, we might hang around.

One time Chuck involves Denver, P.E is on tour with Ice Dice – that is quickly after the discharge of Ice Dice’s first solo album, AmeriKKKa’s Most Needed. And whereas Ice Dice is doing a soundcheck, Chuck and I are simply sitting within the enviornment, speaking. And he says to me: ‘Yo, Huge Jon, what are you going to do along with your life? What’s subsequent?’ And I say, ‘What do you imply? I’m the person right here.’

Chuck was sitting behind me, and I’ll always remember, he replies: ‘That’s what I’m speaking about: each time I come to Denver, you’re the person right here. However until you dream larger, that’s all you’re ever going to be.’

He begins giving me all these concepts, options of issues I may do within the music enterprise. And the following day, I couldn’t get that dialog out of my head. The seed was deeply planted. I went on the hunt for as a lot info as I may discover in regards to the music enterprise.

[Some important exposition: After his conversation with Chuck, young Jon eventually ended up in Los Angeles and was interviewed by Jody Gerson in 1995 for an A&R role at EMI Music Publishing. He got the job and in the years that followed Jon signed and worked with – to name a few – Jay-Z, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Drake, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Young Jeezy, Mary Mary, and Pharrell Williams.]

With Chuck D at SESAC‘s awards in 2015 (Courtesy SMP/Jon Platt)

3) Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen (1975) / Desires, Fleetwood Mac (1977)

This one is a twin entry, and it takes me proper again to my childhood.

I used to be born in Philadelphia, however then we moved to Oakland, California till I used to be 10 or 11 years outdated. On the finish of the fourth grade in Oakland, my mother advised us we have been transferring to Denver. So, we drove to Denver, the place my grandmother lived, and that turned our new residence. I keep in mind that day prefer it was yesterday.

Now, to provide you some context, rising up in Oakland we have been surrounded by Black individuals and Black tradition. Two Black FM radio stations. Black music historical past; Sly & The Household Stone, Tower Of Energy, The Pointer Sisters, and many others.

We transfer into this space known as Aurora, a suburb of Denver, and it’s… not as numerous as we’re used to, to place it politely!

Denver didn’t even have one Black FM radio station. It had a Black AM radio station, and at evening the sign would get a bit of fuzzy.

My siblings and I have been enrolled in native colleges, and we have been now round a whole lot of white youngsters. My older brother begins hanging out with new mates and begins listening to rock music. And I keep in mind asking him, ‘Why are you listening to that music?’

As a result of after I heard it, it didn’t sound just like the music I listened to rising up to this point.

“Denver didn’t even have one Black FM radio station. It had a Black AM radio station, and at evening the sign would get a bit of fuzzy.”

However the extra he’d play these FM radio stations, and I continued to listen to these songs, the extra I started to love them, and get connected to them. And Queen, to at the present time, I simply love them – in all probability my favourite band of all time.

After I heard Bohemian Rhapsody for the primary time, that was a game-changer. I used to be a child at this level; that is lengthy earlier than Sucker M.C’s and It’s Like That. However I knew [Bohemian Rhapsody] was a musical masterpiece. Queen was simply so creative; no two songs of theirs sounded the identical.

After which got here the Fleetwood Mac with Landslide and Rhiannon, after which got here the Rumours album. Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie have been simply it.

I didn’t perceive what studying to understand this music – and different bands, like Steve Miller Band, Jefferson Airplane, and many others – was instructing me on the time. However later in life, all of it helped make me a well-rounded music government.

I’m a music fan first, and I used to be fortunate sufficient for music to grow to be my profession. Due to these early experiences, and all through my journey within the music enterprise, I noticed I had a gear that a few of my colleagues didn’t have.

Queen, Fleetwood Mac, and others taught me that no matter preconception one might need; a success music is a success music – regardless of the style.

4) Via The Wire, Kanye West (2004) / Lose Your self, Eminem (2002)

I’ve made my very own double-A aspect right here!

I’ve at all times had goals, and I perceive the ability of goals. I envisioned myself doing significant issues within the music enterprise, and I pushed myself in direction of that aim.

After I heard Via The Wire, it introduced tears to my eyes. As a result of I used to be like, ‘Wow. He did it. He truly did it.’

I knew Ye earlier than that music was launched. And had you witnessed his journey, you’d know what I felt after I first heard Via The Wire.

“To many individuals, some issues might sound inconceivable to attain. We would enable outdoors forces – possibly our personal brains – to persuade us that inconceivable exists. not Ye.”

I’m positive you’ve seen the documentary [jeen-yuhs]? Individuals not believing in him, dismissing him; ‘he’s simply the producer’.

After which for him to not solely do it, however to do it on his personal phrases? Investing his time, his coronary heart, but in addition his personal sources? After which for it to work?! It’s in all probability one of the genuine tales of perseverance you’ll ever discover. We will all study rather a lot from it.

Relating to Ye, nothing is inconceivable. NOTHING. To many individuals, some issues might sound inconceivable to attain. We would enable outdoors forces – possibly our personal brains – to persuade us that inconceivable exists. Not Ye.

I discovered early on to concentrate to every thing Ye says. Each phrase. As a result of he’s going to succeed with or with out your assist. He’s an absolute genius.

After which: Lose Your self. One of many best songs ever written about believing in one thing and going for it.

I at all times inform youthful individuals, ‘Suppose… then do.’ They don’t at all times perceive what I’m saying at first. However the reality is that most individuals suppose… then suppose.

To me, that’s what this music is saying, particularly the third verse: ‘Suppose… then do.’

I keep in mind when [Lose Yourself] got here out. I appreciated the music, however I like a whole lot of songs. After which at some point I used to be in my workplace, and the lyrics pulled me in. And I used to be like, ‘Wait. What?!’

I listened to it repeatedly…and skilled that ‘Oh-my-God’ second.

I’ll share one thing private with you: Each time I’ve a chance in entrance of me, Lose Your self is my hype music. It’s the music that places me within the zone, and I’ll simply say it has been on repeat all through my journey to the place I sit immediately.

[In 2014, Jon Platt became the first African American executive to ever run a major multinational music company as Chairman and CEO of Warner Chappell Music, which he initially joined in 2012 after 17 years with EMI. Jon then joined Sony/ATV – now Sony Music Publishing – in 2019, also as Chairman and CEO.]

With Jay-Z in October 2018, Los Angeles – the evening Jon Platt was honored by the Metropolis Of Hope (courtesy: SMP/Jon Platt)

5) Empire State Of Thoughts, Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys (2009)

The unique model of what turned Empire State Of Thoughts was an R&B music co-written by two good songwriters signed to EMI Music Publishing named Angela Hunte and Jane’t Sewell-Ulepic.

Whereas in New York, I heard the music at a cook-out Angela and Jane’t have been having, and I despatched the music to Jay the next day, which occurred to be Father’s Day. The one motive I used to be in New York was as a result of Beyoncé was starting her tour at Madison Sq. Backyard that evening; I despatched it to Jay earlier that day.

“This was Jay’s music. Jay’s artwork. Jay’s No.1.”

After I noticed Jay on the MSG, he advised me he had already written his verses. It was throughout that dialog that we got here up with the concept to place Alicia Keys on the music. Jay reached out to Alicia, they usually took it the remainder of the way in which.

I had labored with Jay for 12 or 13 years at that time, however I didn’t notice he had by no means had a #1 report on the Billboard Sizzling 100 underneath his personal title. He’d had one with Mariah [Heartbreaker, 1999], however, in my eyes, that was at all times Mariah’s music. After which I keep in mind studying it: ‘This monitor, Empire State Of Thoughts, may this week grow to be Jay-Z’s first #1 report on the Sizzling 100.’

This was Jay’s music. Jay’s artwork. Jay’s No.1. Now, I actually don’t drink, however I keep in mind Jay saying to me: ‘Jon, if this goes to No.1, we’re having a drink.’ And Empire did go No.1. And we did have that drink.

The private factor I’ll at all times cherish in regards to the Empire story is Jay is my man who I’d labored with since his first album, however I pitched this music to Jay as a music writer. I did my job.

The music I heard at that cookout was titled NY Ruff – the tough demo.

That music, that includes Alicia, changed into Empire State of Thoughts – Jay got here up with that title. After which Empire traveled the world.

At this juncture, MBW wish to quote Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter, studying an intro to a chapter about Empire State of Thoughts for the audiobook of Alicia Keys’ autobiography, Extra Myself: A Journey.

“I obtained a name one weekend from a music writer, Jon Platt, often known as Huge Jon, as a result of he’s like 6 [foot] 7. He had a music by two writers, Angela Hunte and Janet Sewell-Ulepic

“[Jon] performed it for me and I used to be like, I’m able to do it, ship me the recordsdata… When it was carried out, I listened again, and I knew it was going to be particular. You get these emotions, and typically you’re incorrect – however I knew this music was going to be impactful.”

After praising Keys’ contribution to the music and its bridge, Carter provides: “I just lately carried out Empire in South Africa for World Residents Pageant [2018].

“From the stage I seemed to my proper, and there stood Huge Jon, the man who introduced me the music, with the most important smile on his face.”

Jay-Z calls this “the proper full-circle second.”

[Back to Jon]: I inform youthful individuals in A&R: the relationships that I’ve [in music] didn’t get to the place they’re immediately simply because these individuals like me. I’ve achieved these relationships as a result of I do a job for them.

No one indicators a publishing or report deal as a result of they want a brand new good friend. They have already got their very own mates. We’re right here to do a job, and so as to add worth to their careers.

“No one indicators a publishing or report deal as a result of they want a brand new good friend. They have already got their very own mates.”

Now, over time, you may grow to be mates with extraordinarily proficient individuals; typically, very hardly ever, you may even be thought of household by them. But it surely all begins and ends with doing the job!

Jay is aware of I’ll at all times do my job for him, and all the opposite songwriters I’ve been so blessed to work with.

6) What A Great World, Louis Armstrong (1967)

Perfection. Perfection. There’s not one factor incorrect on this music.

If I ever wished I may return in time and be within the enterprise in a distinct period, it could be when this music was written. I might have cherished to be within the room when Bob Thiele and George David Weiss wrote it.

The brilliance of this music is about so many issues. I like the subtlety of the supply from Mr. Armstrong. Each line, each phrase, he continues to attract you in.

“This music is so humbling. It’s a music of appreciation and opening your eyes to positives in life.”

I don’t hearken to Great World usually, as a result of after I do, I hearken to it for hours and hours on repeat.

This music is so humbling. It’s a music of appreciation and opening your eyes to positives in life.

Louis Armstrong is singing in regards to the positives of life. Of how blessed he’s – and, in some ways, how blessed all of us are.

I’ll say it once more: Perfection!

With P Diddy, Jay-Z, and Clarence Avant at a Roc Nation Grammy occasion (courtesy: SMP/Jon Platt)

7) Mr. Bojangles, Sammy Davis Jr (1972)

I didn’t notice the importance of this music till I used to be an grownup. Pretty just lately, I would add.

I consider that Sammy Davis Jr. is likely one of the most under-appreciated artists by his personal individuals. The issues he endured – being mislabeled the way in which he was – all due to who his mates have been and the individuals he carried out with.

It’s attention-grabbing, since you can’t deny that Sammy Davis Jr. broke many boundaries. And [because of that] many who’ve come behind him have had a neater path. Sammy Davis Jr. deserves a lot appreciation from our tradition, and I don’t suppose he receives it – but.

“Many individuals can’t admire the loneliness of that feeling at occasions.”

The manufacturing, the nuance, the area, and Mr. Davis’ supply of Mr. Bojangles, is nothing in need of spectacular.

After I hear Mr. Bojangles immediately, it makes me a bit unhappy. As a result of for some motive, I hear a way of loneliness in that music, the loneliness of Sammy Davis Jr. being the one one. And I hook up with that, as a result of I do know what it’s wish to be the one one.

Now, I haven’t been I shunned by my very own neighborhood. Nevertheless, I have been in boardrooms and plenty of conferences and necessary locations the place I’ve been very conscious: I’m the one one.

Many individuals can’t admire the loneliness of that feeling at occasions.

However there’s one other aspect to it, too: there should be an just one, a primary one, for there to be two, three, 4, 5… a whole lot and 1000’s extra.

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