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Sony Music Australia artists remain silent after Denis Handlin exposé

Sony Music artists remain silent as the influential executive who launched their careers is accused of presiding over a ‘toxic’ workplace


He is the once all-conquering music executive at the centre of serious allegations from more than 100 former staff members.

Now the question surrounding ex-Sony Australia boss Denis Handlin is who – if any – on the label’s star-studded roster will join those speaking out against the former industry titan, who was the subject of a Four Corners exposé on Monday night.

Despite fostering the careers of some of Australia’s biggest music names, including John Farnham, Amy Shark and Delta Goodrem, the response from artists has been deafening silence since Handlin was stood down in June.

Sony Music artists have so far remained silent after the label’s ex-CEO Denis Handlin (pictured in April) was accused of presiding over a ‘toxic’ workplace in a Four Corners exposé on Monday

Monday’s ABC report included a slew of claims about Handlin from former employees, including heavy alcohol use, verbal abuse, misogynistic behaviour and – at times – physical abuse during his 37-year tenure at the label.

Staffers claimed Handlin oversaw a ‘toxic’ workplace that for some was unbearable.

But despite this, Sony’s biggest stars have remained steadfastly tight-lipped, despite the fact many of them cut ties with the label years ago.

One of the most high-profile is Tina Arena, who walked away from Sony at the peak of her career in 2004, reportedly after falling out with Handlin.

Monday's ABC report included a slew of claims about Handlin from former employees, including heavy alcohol use, verbal abuse, misogynistic behaviour and - at times - physical abuse during his 37-year tenure at the label. Pictured: Sony Music's Sydney headquarters

Monday’s ABC report included a slew of claims about Handlin from former employees, including heavy alcohol use, verbal abuse, misogynistic behaviour and – at times – physical abuse during his 37-year tenure at the label. Pictured: Sony Music’s Sydney headquarters

Former X factor star Dami Im, who is currently appearing on Celebrity MasterChef, also quit Sony in 2019 and later compared signing with the label to ‘an arranged marriage’ after winning the talent show in 2013.

‘Working with a major label was tricky,’ she said last year.

‘I’m still really happy with the career I have had but it’s difficult when you have a big company you have to work through and I didn’t necessarily know how to navigate that.’

Sony's biggest stars have remained steadfastly tight-lipped, despite the fact many of them cut ties with the label years ago. Handlin is pictured with Jessica Mauboy, who left Sony in 2020, in Sydney on March 23, 2016

Sony’s biggest stars have remained steadfastly tight-lipped, despite the fact many of them cut ties with the label years ago. Handlin is pictured with Jessica Mauboy, who left Sony in 2020, in Sydney on March 23, 2016

One of the most high-profile is Tina Arena (pictured on May 2 in Brisbane), who walked away from Sony at the peak of her career in 2004, reportedly after falling out with Handlin

One of the most high-profile is Tina Arena (pictured on May 2 in Brisbane), who walked away from Sony at the peak of her career in 2004, reportedly after falling out with Handlin

Others to walk away from the label include Jessica Mauboy – who left Sony in 2020 – as well as Stan Walker, who jumped ship to Sony Music New Zealand.

Walker opened up about the move in his autobiography Impossible, released last year, hinting that his time under Handlin was fraught with problems stemming from his ‘Māori-ness’.

‘The man appointed at that time as my new marketing manager told me I needed to cut my hair,’ Walker wrote in the book.

Amy Shark has yet to comment on the circumstances surrounding Handlin's departure

Amy Shark has yet to comment on the circumstances surrounding Handlin’s departure

‘I read it as him saying he didn’t like my look. I felt he was saying, “You’re not good enough.” I started to feel they all thought I was all wrong – too brown, too Māori. That the more I was myself, the less I appealed to the industry.’

A former Sony executive of almost two decades told Daily Mail Australia they believe there may soon be a handful of artists willing to ‘break ranks’ in the wake of the latest claims.

But it remains to be seen which ones decide to speak out against the executive once considered the most powerful man in Australian music.

Despite fostering the careers of some of Australia's biggest musicians, including John Farnham (left), the response from artists has been deafening silence since Handlin was stood down in June

Despite fostering the careers of some of Australia’s biggest music names, including John Farnham (left), the response from artists has been deafening silence since Handlin was stood down in June

Handlin is pictured with a young Delta Goodrem on August 3, 2004, in Sydney

Handlin is pictured with a young Delta Goodrem on August 3, 2004, in Sydney

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk