Denis Handlin: Sony Music staff break silence on Australian music boss

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Radio host Kyle Sandilands took to the defense of former Sony boss Denis Handlin, once considered the most powerful man in Australian music, after former and current employees alleged a culture of ” bullying and abuse ”on ABC’s Four Corners.

As president of Sony Australia for 37 years, Mr. Handlin helped launch the careers of some of Australia’s biggest stars, including Delta Goodrem and Jessica Mauboy, until he suddenly left the company in June.

Mr. Handlin’s departure came after former employees made allegations of “fear and bullying,” “systemic bullying, discrimination and misconduct” in the powerful music business.

There is no suggestion that his departure was linked to the allegations.

Four Corners also released footage showing the CEO disguised as Hitler in a parody video.

“What a waste of life watching this,” Kyle Sandilands told Kyle and Jackie O listeners of the Four Corners show on Denis Handlin

On one occasion, Mr. Handlin disguised himself as Adolf Hitler (above) in an eight-minute skit for employees, a video obtained by Four Corners showed

On one occasion, Mr. Handlin disguised himself as Adolf Hitler (above) in an eight-minute skit for employees, a video obtained by Four Corners showed

A number of former staff have lined up to broadcast allegations against Mr Handlin as part of the program, including ex-Sony employee Eleanor Mackay and her former driver.

“He was as mean to men as he was to women,” Ms. McKay, who joined the company in 1986, told ABC.

But on Kyle and Jackie O Tuesday morning, Sandilands denied the seriousness of the allegations.

‘What a waste of life, look at this. So the guy was a bit of a grog freak and screamed in the ’80s, ”Sandilands said of the allegations.

“There was a driver in the late 80’s -” oh, he threw me a phone once and said the F word when I didn’t have money for Harry’s pie! ”

‘So, big problem.’

Sandilands said he was waiting to find out what Mr Handlin had done.

‘There was this secretary from the 80s [saying] he was the most repulsive man.

‘Oh yeah, no argument there but what did he do? “He would put people down.

‘So, big problem. The angry boss who was yelling and belittling people. To move on.’

The most powerful man in Australian music, former Sony boss Denis Handlin (pictured), ran the company when it had a

The most powerful man in Australian music, former Sony boss Denis Handlin (pictured), ran the company when it had a “toxic” culture, some former staff have claimed.

On one occasion, Mr. Handlin disguised himself as Adolf Hitler in an eight-minute skit for employees, a video obtained by ABC Show, in a parody of Mel Brooks’ 1983 hit The Hitler Rap.

In a statement provided to the CBA, Mr Handlin said he “will never tolerate” sexism or abuse in the workplace.

“I have always supported and encouraged women in the industry and have personally championed diversity.

“I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate or discriminatory manner.

“At all times I was made aware of this type of behavior, I took steps to make sure it was stopped and was not happening again.”

Mr. Handlin, 70, was one of the most influential figures in the industry, signing bands and stars such as Delta Goodrem, Jessica Mauboy and Gang of Youths.

All four corners of ABC blew the lid off so-called culture during Denis Handlin's 37-year reign as president of Sony Music

All four corners of ABC blew the lid off so-called culture during Denis Handlin’s 37-year reign as president of Sony Music

Born in Brisbane, Mr. Handlin’s first job with the company was working in the mailroom of the Australian Record Company in 1970 before it was renamed Sony Music.

He quickly rose through the ranks to become head of national promotions, director of marketing and then general manager of marketing and sales.

In 1984, he impressed global business leaders enough to be appointed CEO and CEO of Australia before being given the role of chairman in 1996.

But a former staff member told Four Corners reporter Grace Tobin that her success came at their expense.

“I don’t think anywhere else in the world would you have a CEO of a music company with that much power,” a 2000s former Sony employee told the show.

Singer Amy Shark (pictured) repeatedly praised her record label boss when she won awards like her multiple Aria gongs in 2018

Singer Amy Shark (pictured) repeatedly praised her record label boss when she won awards like her multiple Aria gongs in 2018

“It’s always been a massive story waiting to come out that never got out while Denis was still at the helm, because people were so scared.

“There was a feeling he was untouchable.”

Another Sony executive from the 1990s said staff worked in fear at headquarters in Sydney.

“I felt targeted, I felt manipulated and I certainly felt abused. There is only a limit to what you can take, ”said one.

“I think a lot of people get scared when they hear that name,” another former staff member who has worked at Sony for the past decade told Four Corners.

Amy Shark (pictured) failed to thank him in one of his three speeches to Aria that evening, which allegedly prompted him to walk out of the ceremony

Amy Shark (pictured) failed to thank him in one of his three speeches to Aria that evening, which allegedly prompted him to walk out of the ceremony

Mr Handlin’s former right-hand man, Alan Terrey, said he refused to “go to my grave without telling my story”, recalling a time when the former CEO allegedly fired a 10-year-old receptionist. years in the hope of hiring a younger woman.

“Now I want you to fire her,” Mr. Terrey told Mr. Handlin.

He then claims that Mr. Handlin said he wanted a younger woman working at the front desk.

However, it wasn’t long before the stars sang her praises whenever they were in the spotlight.

Singer Amy Shark has repeatedly praised her record label boss when she won awards like her multiple Aria gongs in 2018.

“Denis Handlin and my amazing team at Sony – I wouldn’t have a career without you,” Ms. Shark said at the time.

But she failed to thank him in one of her three speeches that evening, which would have made him leave the ceremony with a bang.

Shark was reportedly forced to apologize to him in person and publicly on Twitter the next day.

Other company staff said a toxic culture was “the norm.”

But many were shocked when Mr. Handlin left the company in June.

“I was actually stunned,” a veteran Sony executive told the show.

Former staff have stepped forward to talk about culture at Sony Music while Denis Handlin was in charge (pictured, Sony Music headquarters in Sydney)

Former staff have stepped forward to talk about culture at Sony Music while Denis Handlin was in charge (pictured, Sony Music headquarters in Sydney)


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