Warner/Chappell's Jon Platt Looks Back Ahead of SESAC Pop Music Awards 'Visionary' Honor

Arnold Turner Archives for Billboard

Jon Platt at the 2015 The Billboard Power 100 Celebration at Bouchon Bistro on Feb. 6, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.

At this year's SESAC Pop Music Awards that's being held Monday at the New York Public Library in Manhattan, Warner/Chappell North America president Jon Platt who will receive the performance rights organization's "Visionary Award." In light of this honor, Billboard caught up with Platt to see what's on his mind nowadays.

Jon Platt: The 2015 Billboard Power 100

Platt began his career as a DJ in Colorado before moving over to managing producers and finally dived in to the music business with both feet in 1995, joining EMI Music Publishing. He spent 17 years there before joining Warner/Chappell in 2012. Along the way, he has either signed, developed or worked with such artists as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake and Snoop Dogg, among others.

Chuck D from Public Enemy will be on hand Monday to help present Platt with his award, which will honor him for his creative vision, leadership role and achievements. The honor's past recipients include Richard Gottehrer, co-founder and chief creative officer of The Orchard, and Daniel Glass, founder of Glassnote Records.

Congrats on your award. How did you get to this point in your career?

Basically through hard work and being prepared when I found myself in truly fortunate situations. I started out in the music industry as a DJ in Colorado, which led to a friendship with Public Enemy and Chuck D, who was the first person that told me that I should be working in the music industry. His words never left my mind. Eventually I began managing some producers and wound up getting them a publishing deal with EMI Music Publishing. Through that relationship, in 1995 EMI hired me. Twenty years later, here we are.

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How do you and Warner/Chappell Global Chairman & CEO Cameron Strang divide responsibilities and then how do you juggle the responsibilities of the creative aspect of the business at the same time as the more formal responsibilities of running the company.

Cameron is a fantastic leader and I work with him on many things. He's the Global Chairman, and I run the day-to-day aspects of the North American operation. At the end of the day there is a job that needs to be done and I don't spend a certain amount of hours on creative and a certain amount of time on running the company. I can tell you a lot of my creative stuff happens in the late night hours. I was in the studio last night with a writer and its still fun and the most rewarding part of my job.

What songwriters currently have your attention?

We have a guy out of Toronto, Belly, that we signed just over a year ago and he is really starting to develop. He was the co-writer on the Weeknd's "50 Shades of Grey" track "Earned It." He is also an artist. We also have a team of songwriters out of Sweden, Wolf Cousins, who worked on Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do."

Jon Platt Named President, North America at Warner/Chappell Music

How has the role of music publishing changed over the years you have been in the industry.

The job of the publishers is always to get the songs to the record label and the recording artists but music publishing has now front and center in the industry. We are very involved in developing the groundwork in building artist/songwriters and working really closely with the labels to get them the songs they need for their artists. But we still need to create the opportunities for our songwriter's songs and then collect the money. 

I understand you enjoy embracing the mentoring of young executives. 

It is one of the most important things to me. We have to prepare the next generation of leaders. It makes the company a lot stronger. We have a lot of up and coming executives like Ryan Press and Katie Vinten, both VP of A&Rs; Julie Peterson, senior creative manager for Warner/Chappell Sweden; and David Goldsen, director of A&R. We have an amazing team and mentoring young executives only makes it stronger. I never want to be the leader that competes with the team. I have seen that situation.