MBW’s Key Songs In The Life Of… is a collection during which we ask influential music trade figures concerning the tracks which have – thus far – 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 collection, which initially started life in our Music Enterprise UK journal, and you’ll count on much more of it to look 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, after all. And, positive, all of them have bought ‘fairly just a few’ data 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 international 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 unimaginable problem: Whittle down the entire superb songs he’s heard in his time on earth thus far, and spotlight only a handful which have had the largest affect on his life, and who he’s as an individual.
Jon’s solutions, and the autobiographical tales behind every one, informed 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.
Additionally they informed us a lot about how critically he takes his duty (a) in supporting songwriters, and (b) as the only real African American govt operating a multinational main music firm.
(Platt’s operating that main music firm slightly properly: In response to MBW’s learn of Sony’s fiscal outcomes, Sony’s international 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 previous, dwelling in Colorado. These had 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 favored, whether or not it was Sugarhill Gang or Kurtis Blow, and I used to be an enormous 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 enjoying it. After which after a 12-inch referred to as Collectively Perpetually – which was recorded in a park or one thing – all the pieces 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 , Run-D.M.C went on tour. They weren’t enjoying in Denver, however they had been enjoying 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 strategy to discover what resort they had been staying in and booked myself into the identical one. And that’s how I started to satisfy 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 data; that’s the way it all form of began coming collectively.
A joke concerning the [Fresh Fest] present was that the line-up was The Fats Boys, adopted by Whodini, after which Run-D.M.C. Nonetheless, at first of the present, this younger child comes out and begins dancing and getting the group going, simply killing it.
Quick ahead a few years later, that younger child is one in every of my closest mates – Jermaine Dupri.
2) Public Enemy No.1 (1987)
By this level, I’m a longtime DJ in Denver, and I’m enjoying at this membership referred to as Norman’s Place, to teenagers and faculty college students.
There’s a man from Denver named Dave ‘Funken’ Klein, who would come to my events. Dave someway will get a summer season internship with Def Jam, after which finally ends up getting employed full-time. Dave is sending me data every now and then, telling Def Jam, ‘My buddy in Denver is the man! He performs all of the rap data on the market!’
At some point I bought 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 dwelling after I’m training, 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 track anyway, and it will get a response. The next week, I play it once more, and it will get extra response. In truth, each time I play it, it will get an even bigger and greater response.
So [Public Enemy No.1] is launched and turns into successful, 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 fellows; they’re enjoying 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 supply 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 area, speaking. And he says to me: ‘Yo, Massive 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 greater, that’s all you’re ever going to be.’
He begins giving me all these concepts, recommendations of issues I might 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 data as I might discover concerning 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.]
3) Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen (1975) / Goals, 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 previous. On the finish of the fourth grade in Oakland, my mother informed us we had been shifting to Denver. So, we drove to Denver, the place my grandmother lived, and that turned our new dwelling. I keep in mind that day prefer it was yesterday.
Now, to offer you some context, rising up in Oakland we had 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 so on.
We transfer into this space referred to 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 night time the sign would get just a little fuzzy.
My siblings and I had been enrolled in native colleges, and we had been now round loads 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 up to now.
“Denver didn’t even have one Black FM radio station. It had a Black AM radio station, and at night time the sign would get just a little 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 hooked up to them. And Queen, to today, I simply love them – in all probability my favourite band of all time.
Once 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 had 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 govt.
I’m a music fan first, and I used to be fortunate sufficient for music to change into my profession. Due to these early experiences, and all through my journey within the music enterprise, I spotted 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; successful track is successful track – 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 desires, and I perceive the facility of desires. I envisioned myself doing significant issues within the music enterprise, and I pushed myself in the direction of that objective.
Once 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 track 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 may appear unimaginable to realize. We would permit outdoors forces – possibly our personal brains – to persuade us that unimaginable exists. not Ye.”
I’m positive you’ve seen the documentary [jeen-yuhs]? Folks 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 additionally his personal sources? After which for it to work?! It’s in all probability some of the genuine tales of perseverance you’ll ever discover. We will all be taught lots from it.
In relation to Ye, nothing is unimaginable. NOTHING. To many individuals, some issues may appear unimaginable to realize. We would permit outdoors forces – possibly our personal brains – to persuade us that unimaginable exists. Not Ye.
I realized early on to concentrate to all the pieces 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 biggest 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 assume… then assume.
To me, that’s what this track is saying, particularly the third verse: ‘Suppose… then do.’
I keep in mind when [Lose Yourself] got here out. I favored the track, however I like loads 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: Every time I’ve a chance in entrance of me, Lose Your self is my hype music. It’s the track 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 in the present day.
[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, additionally as Chairman and CEO.]
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 track co-written by two sensible songwriters signed to EMI Music Publishing named Angela Hunte and Jane’t Sewell-Ulepic.
Whereas in New York, I heard the track at a cook-out Angela and Jane’t had been having, and I despatched the track 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 night time; I despatched it to Jay earlier that day.
“This was Jay’s track. Jay’s artwork. Jay’s No.1.”
Once I noticed Jay on the MSG, he informed 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 track. 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 understand he had by no means had a #1 report on the Billboard Scorching 100 below his personal title. He’d had one with Mariah [Heartbreaker, 1999], however, in my eyes, that was at all times Mariah’s track. After which I keep in mind studying it: ‘This monitor, Empire State Of Thoughts, might this week change into Jay-Z’s first #1 report on the Scorching 100.’
This was Jay’s track. 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 concerning the Empire story is Jay is my man who I’d labored with since his first album, however I pitched this track to Jay as a music writer. I did my job.
The track I heard at that cookout was titled NY Ruff – the tough demo.
That track, that includes Alicia, became 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 bought a name one weekend from a music writer, Jon Platt, also referred to as Massive Jon, as a result of he’s like 6 [foot] 7. He had a track 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 information… When it was executed, I listened again, and I knew it was going to be particular. You get these emotions, and typically you’re flawed – however I knew this track was going to be impactful.”
After praising Keys’ contribution to the track and its bridge, Carter provides: “I just lately carried out Empire in South Africa for World Residents Competition .
“From the stage I regarded to my proper, and there stood Massive Jon, the man who introduced me the track, with the largest 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 in the present day 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 buddy. 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 buddy. They have already got their very own mates.”
Now, over time, you would possibly change into mates with extraordinarily proficient individuals; typically, very hardly ever, you would possibly even be thought-about 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 Fantastic World, Louis Armstrong (1967)
Perfection. Perfection. There’s not one factor flawed on this track.
If I ever wished I might return in time and be within the enterprise in a unique period, it might be when this track was written. I might have cherished to be within the room when Bob Thiele and George David Weiss wrote it.
The brilliance of this track 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 track is so humbling. It’s a track of appreciation and opening your eyes to positives in life.”
I don’t hearken to Fantastic World typically, as a result of after I do, I hearken to it for hours and hours on repeat.
This track is so humbling. It’s a track of appreciation and opening your eyes to positives in life.
Louis Armstrong is singing concerning 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!
7) Mr. Bojangles, Sammy Davis Jr (1972)
I didn’t understand the importance of this track till I used to be an grownup. Pretty just lately, I’d 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 had been and the individuals he carried out with.
It’s attention-grabbing, since you can’t deny that Sammy Davis Jr. broke many obstacles. 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 assume he receives it – but.
“Many individuals can’t respect 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.
Once I hear Mr. Bojangles in the present day, it makes me a bit unhappy. As a result of for some motive, I hear a way of loneliness in that track, 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 prefer to be the one one.
Now, I haven’t been I shunned by my very own group. Nonetheless, I have been in boardrooms and lots of conferences and necessary locations the place I’ve been very conscious: I’m the one one.
Many individuals can’t respect 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 bunch and 1000’s extra.
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