Thursday night (October 11) at the City Of Hope gala in Los Angeles – Warner/Chappell boss Jon Platt was honored with the prestigious Spirit Of Life award.
Luminaries like Dr. Dre, Jay Z, Derek Fisher, Tiffany Haddish, Quincy Jones, Wiz Khalifa, Rita Ora, Bebe Rexha, Kelly Rowland, Timbaland, Justin Tranter, and Usher were in attendance.
Platt’s star-studded celebration, which kicked off with performances by Mary Mary and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, culminated with the City Of Hope’s first-ever after-party, deejayed by Jermaine Dupri.
Sources are saying that approximately $6.5m was raised for City Of Hope, a cancer-fighting research and medical facility of which Platt said “they don’t know the meaning of the word impossible… it’s more than a hospital, it’s a family”.
“This man is a CEO and Chairman,” said Jay-Z of Platt, who first signed him back in 1997. “He’s worked his way there. We all know the story: a Denver DJ with the Jheri curls. [Now] he’s the highest-ranking black executive in any global [music] company. He’s the Obama of the music industry.”
Jay-Z’s comment about “where he goes, I go” left a room partly populated by Warner/Chappell execs gasping as well as clapping.
But, in the end, the widespread deference and affection in the building for Platt proved to be the biggest takeaway.
Beyoncé summed it up, telling her long-time publisher: “Most people in this industry lead with their ego. You lead with your heart.”
In-between Jay-Z’s address and Beyoncé’s performance came Platt’s own speech.
Carter called Platt “a selfless human being and passionate person” before teasingly inviting his friend on stage as “the artist formerly known as Big Jon”.
Platt didn’t waste any time in telling his friend exactly what he thought of him.
“To Jay: for more than 20 years, your genius, your friendship, and your loyalty has helped define me in this industry,” said Platt.
“From the bottom of my heart, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be on this stage tonight if you hadn’t come into my life. Thank you for everything.”
There were largely three themes to Platt’s address on his big night: (i) The work of City Of Hope; (ii) Those friends, colleagues and family members who’d helped him get into the position he’s now in – which will see him become CEO and Chairman of Sony/ATV early next year; and (iii) Diversity and inclusion in the music business – not merely for the sake of diversity and inclusion, but for the betterment of the industry and the people in it.
“I began to think about how I could use this opportunity to share the spotlight with so many other people… with the culture that has supported and nurtured me,” said Platt. “I’d also be able to shine a light on a generation of executives I’ve grown up with in this industry, who are more than ready and willing to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.”
He added: “It was very important to me, if I was going to do this, that we had to do it my way; meaning, I’m not going to be the only brother in this room – I’m bringing all my friends with me. And it was important to me it was black tie, because I wanted you to to see us at our best.
“Take a look around this room, completely sold out! I want you to remember what happens when you make a point to not exclude anybody – and actually include everybody.”
He later commented: “As an African-American CEO, I proudly embrace the responsibility to lend a helping hand to people of color who are coming up in this industry, as well as to represent my friends and colleagues who are already doing good in this game.”
He specifically name-checked the likes of Roc Nation’s Jay Brown, Motown’s Ethiopia Habtemariam, Apple’s Larry Jackson, Universal’s Jeff Harleston, Epic’s Sylvia Rhone, RCA’s Mark Pitts plus Quality Control’s Coach K and Pee.
“We’re much more than just athletes and entertainers,” said Platt.
“At a time in our country when so much is broken, it’s important that we focus on those who are doing great in the world; people who devote their lives to fixing what ills us, people saving lives,” said Platt of City Of Hope.
Durpri was amongst those music business figures highlighted by Platt for having played a key role in his career to date. These names also included Chuck D, Steve Prudholme, Jody Gerson, Roger Faxon, Steve Cooper, Len Blavatnik and Martin Bandier.
“Thank you for giving me the greatest gift you can ever give anybody: the opportunity to fail,” said Platt to his mentors and employers. “I made mistakes in my career, but each of those mistakes was valuable.”