Sony Music Artists Can’t Get Paid. Sony Music CEO Makes $20 Million…

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Yesterday, a former Grooveshark employee accused top major label executives of being focused one one thing, and one thing only: their obscenely bloated salaries.  Now, we’re starting to see what he’s talking about.

According to details leaked to the New York Post last night, Sony Music Entertainment CEO Doug Morris is slated to receive an annual compensation of between $17 and $20 million  — in one year.

Actually, that figure could go well past $20 million, but $17 million is ‘in the bag’.  “Doug has a two-year deal, between $17 and $20 million a year,” a Post source relayed.  “It’s a mix of base salary plus a share of the profits. But $17 million will be guaranteed.”

The news comes despite tens of billions in losses for the ‘big three’ major labels over the past decade, and substantial bleeding at Sony Music Entertainment.  Morris, a thriving septuagenarian criticized by ageists, seems to be benefiting from a bizarre incentive structure that rewards massive losses with massive salary increases.

Others are recognizing similar benefits.  Earlier, documents detailed a $1.6 million annual take-home for RIAA chief Cary Sherman, mere small potatoes compared to Morris’ lavish buffet.  But both mega-purses now carry some serious ethical baggage, especially in light of a leaked contract with Spotify that revealed crony dealmaking and tens of millions in advances that skip artist accounts entirely.

Sony has stated that upfront advances are shared equitably with artists.



15 Responses

  1. GGG

    Please don’t credit this information in anyway to that Grooveshark tool. Bloated salaries of label execs is nothing new.

  2. jw

    >> a thriving septuagenarian criticized by ageists

    This site is slowly turning into some undergrad’s social justice tumblr.

    • jw

      I need to say more about this. The fact that Doug Morris was COMPLETELY out of touch with technology & consumer behavior during the digital transition is not disputed by anyone, even Morris himself.

      >> “There’s no one in the record company that’s a
      >> technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a
      >> misconception writers make all the time, that the
      >> record industry missed this. They didn’t. They
      >> just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were
      >> suddenly asked to operate on your dog to
      >> remove his kidney. What would you do?”

      To criticize Doug Morris for being out of touch, for missing the boat, & for being a primary agent if not the primary agent in the industry’s decade+ long decline, is not agism. It’s not guaranteed that a younger CEO would’ve faired much better, but in an era where Shawn Fanning was making the most important decisions in the industry & label executives were still having their secretaries print out their e-mails for them, the recorded music industry had no chance.

      Labeling Morris’ detractors as agist is just fucking stupid. Morris does not get to hide behind his age, he’s open to every criticism leveled against him.

      • Remi Swierczek

        So what he is waiting for? Next Grammys is far away and will not help derailed industry.

  3. Rickshaw

    And in other news…the price of apples went up because the moon is rotating closer to the pogo-stick competition run by a committee of giraffes.

    Way to relate two very different things. The CEO of Sony makes the money he makes because he runs a multi-billion dollar company. Artists make what they make because of the product they sell.

  4. Remi Swierczek

    This is the MAIN reason he left UMG!
    Lucian Grainge who took over his warm spot at UMG has to survive on half of that.

    Surprised not to see there $500K Japanese guy balancing with death from overwork exhaustion.

  5. tcooke

    contack Remi Swierczek to see where you can help.

    • Remi Swierczek

      Thanks for drawing attention to my humble persona.

      Because it is music industry I call them BOW TIE WHACKOs.
      GM, Kodak or Blackberry where sunk by just TIE WHACKOs, I forgot, …GOLF PLAYING TIE WHACKOs.
      Life is vicious!

  6. zogg

    Doug Morris deserves what ever he can get he’s been developing talent as a song writer, music publisher,label owner longer then most of you have been alive. His years working with the best people in the industry through the Warner/Universal and Sony labels speaks volumes on a seller career. Waste of time knocking a true visionary.

    • jw

      This type of reverence for the old guard is the music industry’s biggest problem right now, & has been for the last decade & a half.

      He may have plenty of skills, but not the set that’s currently demanded by the marketplace. Which isn’t to say he hasn’t apparently learned a lot from 15 years of industry decline, but he’ll never be ahead of the curve.

      Many people were very adamant about looming changes to the industry in the late ’90s/early ’00s, & though it crossed Morris’ mind to hire “a technologist,” he’s openly admitted he didn’t know how to vet a technologist. (Thus failures like PressPlay.)

      Technology is a fact of life in every industry. It’s always coming. Obsoletion is always an advance away, & industries either adapt & leverage new technology, or they’re trampled underfoot. Doug Morris was trampled, & that’s tantamount to failure in my eyes.

      I don’t think any of this is up for debate. Morris’ time came & went. He presided over catastrophic decline.

      You’re wasting your time defending someone who had a severe deficiency of vision when it came to music’s relationship to technology & continuing changes in consumer behavior. (Who remembers ringtones?)

      • jw

        Curiously, as much as industry figures love to pat one another on the back, even during times of catastrophic decline, they don’t seem to share this sentimentality for artists. Even artists as prolific as Johnny Cash aren’t safe, getting sacked unceremoneously from Columbia after 26 years. (Though they seemed to have little issue with releasing canned albums like Out Among the Stars posthumously. To a #3 Top 200 debut, I’ll add.)

        If record labels treated executives like they treat artists, Morris would’ve been out on the street more than a decade ago. But that will never happen, because the executives are the only ones doing the treating.

  7. Someone

    Hey all: The issue of sharing advance breakage with artists seems only a matter of ethics and PR. I don’t believe there is anything in the artists’ contract w/ each label that states that any revenue a label makes that is not related to the artist’s own product sales / licenses is something the label should share. So the idea of a class action suit seems foolish. The labels may have a PR problem to address with their marquee artists, but it’s only a problem if one label is isolated as the “bad guy”. When all of them treat it just as bad as the next guy, it’s not like a key artist can say hey, I’ll leave my label and switch to this better label. In any rate, what would this suit go after, if the artist is legally not entitled to any such participation?