John O’Donnell, Sydney-based CEO of EMI Music Australasia is leaving the company at the end of September. He continues in an advisory capacity until March 2009.
Meanwhile, Mark Poston has been elevated to the dual roles of senior VP of marketing, Australasia and chairman Australasia, effective Aug. 11.
Poston’s eight years with EMI have included five years in Australia serving with the Capitol and Virgin labels. In 2005, he moved to London to work as director of global marketing, and then as director of frontline U.K. label Charisma/Angel Music Group. In his new marketing role, Poston reports to Sam van der Feltz, president, EMI Music global marketing; and as chairman to Adrian Cheesley, president, Asia Pacific/Latin America.
O’Donnell, who started his career as a music journalist, joined Sony Music in 1994 as label manager of the newly-formed Murmur imprint. In his first week in his role, he co-signed the teen act Silverchair. He joined EMI in Australia in 2005, taking the top job 12 months later. During his time with the company, his focus was on beefing up EMI’s local roster. Last year, he told Billboard that Australian acts made up 40% to 45% of the domestic company’s revenue, up from 24% in 2006.
Among his biggest achievements were the breaking of Missy Higgins and Jet, whose debuts “The Sound Of White” and “Get Born” respectively sold 10-times platinum each (700,000 units). O’Donnell also guided the success of the tribute album to Crowded House’s Neil and Tim Finn, “She Will Have Her Way,” which is certified three-times platinum. He helmed Silverchair’s comeback album “Young Modern” last year, which dominated the 2007 Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards with five wins.
John Watson, president of Eleven A Music Company — the label and management home to Silverchair, Missy Higgins and dance producer Paul Mac, and which is distributed through EMI — tells Billboard.biz, “John is a passionate music fan with an encyclopaedic knowledge of rock history and that allows him to genuinely connect with the creative community. However, he’s also a natural leader, a creative marketing person and a savvy deal-maker. He’s a ‘360 deal’ on two legs. It’s no wonder that EMI Australia was such a market leader in local music under his stewardship.”
Poston and O’Donnell could not be reached for comment.