Sony Music Opens Singapore Office, Shifting Asia Hub From Hong Kong
Sony Music Group will be moving its Southeast Asia headquarters from Hong Kong to Singapore. This joins a host of tech and music companies that have moved regional business hubs away form Hong Kong in the face of street protests and crackdowns from the Chinese government.
The new Singapore office will house SMG companies Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Music Publishing and artists and label services company The Orchard, the company said in a press release Tuesday (March 22). It will also be the new base of Sony Interactive Entertainment, creators and owners of PlayStation.
A host of regional specialists will be based at the new headquarters. They will include marketing, data analytics and finance. SMG claims that the establishment of a regional hub in Singapore will allow it to “leverage Singapore’s talent pool and technology ecosystem, which is well-known as a leading hub of innovation and creativity.”
This move comes three years after major-label competitor Universal Music Group opened a Singapore , relocating its Southeast Asia regional hub from Hong Kong. The Singapore office houses sub-labels Def Jam Southeast Asia and Astralwerks Asia. It also houses regional hubs for INgrooves distributor Spinnup and distributor INgrooves. The regional hub oversees A&R, marketing and sales efforts in Asia’s growing markets, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Only Warner Music Group maintained its Asian hub at Hong Kong. Last year it named Chris Gobalakrishna and Jonathan Serbin (who formerly headed Billboard Asia) as co-presidents of Warner Music Asia. They report to the outgoing Asia chief Simon Robson ,, who moved from Hong Kong last year to London to serve as WMG President, international recorded music.
In recent years, and in a startling acceleration, China has been clamping down on Hong Kong, stifling civil liberties and imposing a sweeping national security law in 2020 aimed at bringing Hong Kong into line with the Chinese Communist Party. The law, which could put anyone in prison for committing subversive or separatist acts, has seen activists being arrested, assets taken, government workers dismissed, and even newspaper editors imprisoned. It came after months of protests in Hong Kong over China’s attempts to rein in the former British colony. This country has been an international economic hub for Asia for many years.
Complicating matters, during the global pandemic the Beijing government has imposed draconian measures on Hong Kong aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19, which have involved frequent lockdowns, travel bans and extended quarantines.
A spokesperson for Sony Music declined to comment on whether the move to Singapore was due to political considerations or a shift in Hong Kong’s business climate. According to a source familiar with the matter, Sony’s Hong Kong office is still “an important hub” for Sony’s work in Greater China .”
Singapore had been attracted to major music-related tech companies such as YouTube, Apple, and Spotify long before UMG opened its offices. A host of U.S. banks and fashion brands, as well as hospitality companies, have followed their lead. The nation-state is also the site of the major music, sports and video gaming business conference, All That Matters, which in 2019 was attended by the CEOs of Kobalt Music Group and Tencent Music Entertainment.
“It is fitting that Singapore, a technology, business and arts hub that’s long been considered a gateway to the rest of Asia, is the base for the next stage of our growth,” says Shridhar Subramaniam, SME’s president, corporate strategy and market development, Asia and Middle East, who will oversee the new Asian headquarters.
At its official opening event for the new office, Singaporean singer Sezairi, who recently broke records in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia with his hit song “It’s You,” joined fellow artists Linying and Benjamin Khen in singing a medley of their songs in a pre-recorded performance — and later revealed themselves at the opening ceremony. Sony reports that the event was attended by the Minister of State for Singapore at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and other officials.
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