Entertainment

‘Worry’ for Samantha Jade’s future at Sony Music after fiancé Pat Handlin’s exit

Rumours are swirling Samantha Jade may choose to part ways with Sony Music Australia after her fiancé Pat Handlin and his father Denis left the company last week amid an investigation into workplace culture.

The 34-year-old singer is one of Sony’s top-tier artists, but industry insiders suspect she may want to sign to another label following the Handlins’ abrupt departure.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that ‘friends of the younger Handlin have shared their worries about what it [the investigation and departures] all means’ for Samantha.

What will the future hold? Rumours are swirling Samantha Jade (pictured on June 10) may choose to part ways with Sony Music Australia after her fiancé Pat Handlin and his father Denis left the company last week amid an investigation into workplace culture

The staff shake-up at Sony Music also comes after a challenging time for the couple, who had to postpone their wedding twice last year due to Covid.

Daily Mail Australia has made repeated attempts to contact Sony Music Australia about Samantha Jade’s future with the label.

Denis Handlin AO, the long-serving chairman and chief executive of Sony Music Australia, abruptly departed the company last Monday.

Concerns: The Sydney Morning Herald reports that friends of Pat Handlin (right) 'have shared their worries about what [the investigation and departures] all means' for Samantha (left)

Concerns: The Sydney Morning Herald reports that friends of Pat Handlin (right) ‘have shared their worries about what [the investigation and departures] all means’ for Samantha (left)

Days later his son Pat, the vice president of artists and repertoire, was placed on indefinite leave, as was senior vice president of human resources Mark Stebnicki.

Pat had joined Sony Music in 2006 as an intern before rising up the ranks to A&R boss.

He left Sony and Australia in September 2016 to become senior A&R manager for Simon Cowell’s Syco Music label in London.

Woes: The staff shake-up at Sony also comes after a challenging time for the couple, who had to postpone their wedding twice last year due to Covid. They got engaged in January 2019

Woes: The staff shake-up at Sony also comes after a challenging time for the couple, who had to postpone their wedding twice last year due to Covid. They got engaged in January 2019

But he returned to Sony Music’s Sydney headquarters in 2018, whereupon he was promoted to vice president of A&R. He proposed to Samantha in January 2019.

Stebnicki joined Sony 14 years ago in the HR department, and started his role as senior vice president of strategy, corporate affairs and human resources last June. 

Sony Music’s global chairman Rob Stringer announced the departure of Denis Handlin – the longest-serving Sony Music employee anywhere in the world – in an internal email to staff at 10.28am last Monday.

‘I am writing to let you know that Denis Handlin will be leaving Sony Music Entertainment after more than 50 years with the company, effectively immediately,’ Mr Stringer wrote.

‘It is time for a change in leadership and I will be making further announcements in terms of the new direction of our business in Australia and New Zealand in due course.’

Mr Handlin is one of the most powerful and influential figures in the music industry who has helped bands and stars like Delta Goodrem, Jessica Mauboy and Gang of Youths achieve international fame.

Mr Stringer went on to thank Mr Handlin for his ‘extraordinary contribution’ to the company.

His departure came after it was revealed Sony Music was investigating claims of bullying and harassment within its Australian office.

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Mr Handlin, his son Pat or Mr Stebnicki are involved in any of the allegations.

In April, vice president of commercial music Tony Glover was sacked following claims of bullying and harassment. Mr Glover has denied the allegations. 

Handlin Snr was born in Brisbane in 1951 and took up his first job in the mailroom with the Australian Record Company – later renamed to Sony Music – in 1970.

He later spent time in key roles such as national promotions manager, director of marketing and general manager of marketing and sales.

He was then made managing director and chief executive in 1984 before rising to the role of chairman in 1996.

He headed the company during the merger between Sony Music and Bertelsmann Media Group in 2004.

He has rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest stars in entertainment including Hugh Jackman and singer Brian McFadden.

Men at Work, Midnight Oil, Silverchair, are among the many artists and bands that owe much of their success to Mr Handlin.

In May, the industry stalwart celebrated his 50th anniversary with Sony Music Australia.

‘A great deal has changed since Denis assembled his first record, but one thing that hasn’t is the passion, dedication, and heart he brings to our global teams, our artists, and the Australian music industry he has been so integral to shaping,’ Mr Stringer said of Mr Handlin.

‘I can’t imagine a better representative for the enduring strength of our Company during this challenging and uncertain time.’

Mr Handlin became a member on the board of the Australian Recording Industry Association since 1984 before he was made chairman in 2010.


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