All roads at Sony Music Entertainment go through Swidler, whose hands touch every deal made at the music industry's second-largest label group. That's major power -- SME will generate approximately $3 billion in 2014 revenue. In U.S. recorded-music sales, Sony's market share through Nov. 23 was 27.9 percent, a slight decrease from 2013.
The majority of the dip comes from the defection of Glassnote earlier this year from Sony's RED distribution service to Universal, but Swidler has seen the positive impact of a deal she helped structure in 2013 to acquire dance label Ultra, home to Calvin Harris, Deadmau5 and Steve Aoki. Harris sold a very healthy 4.1 million tracks this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan, but just as important was bringing Ultra founder Patrick Moxey into the label's system by making him the president of electronic music at Sony.
"That was not a throwaway title for him," says Swidler. "He took it very seriously, and has weekly calls with our people worldwide where they talk about EDM and what's going on in music and who are the best A&R people out there."
Swidler, who is married with three children and lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side, began her career in the legal department of the ad agency J. Walter Thompson, involved with the in-house publishing company for jingles. She has an office at 550 Madison Ave. next door to Epic chairman/CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid, known for playing his music loud. "I love hearing every mix of every new song he is working on," she says. But Swidler spent much of 2014 outside the office, traveling to London, Nashville and Los Angeles to meet with managers and artist reps. One consistent concern from the artist side: the payout of streaming services in the United States.
"I point out to them that those services are bigger in places like Scandinavia and France, where you have artists earning a fair amount of money in the streaming business," says Swidler. "I don't want people to feel that we are at the top of the mountain and won't answer questions. If people aren't getting answers, then I joke to them that they didn't ask me."