Martin Bandier to Be Honored at Clive Davis' Pre-Grammy Gala: "It Feels Very Lofty"

2012-40 BIZ Executive Suite Martin Bandier H
Justin Steele

Bandier, seen in his New York office, has no plans to retire anytime soon. "The alternative is very boring," he says. "I love what I'm doing now more than I ever did before."

He will be honored with the President's Merit Award in recognition of his contributions to the music industry

At the Recording Academy's annual Pre-Grammy Gala, hosted by Clive Davis, Sony/ATV Music Publishing chairman and CEO Martin Bandier will be honored with the President's Merit Award in recognition of his contributions to the music industry and for his philanthropic endeavors.

Past recipients include Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, Richard Branson, Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen, Berry Gordy, Doug Morris, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Mo Ostin and Lucian Grainge.

"This year, we are especially proud to honor our first music publishing industry Icon, Martin Bandier — a luminary whose passion, vision and innovation, combined with his championing some of the world’s greatest songwriters and his tireless work to maximize the value of musical compositions, has helped to shape our musical landscape for decades," Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow said in a statement.

Bandier began his career in the music industry in 1975 when he co-founded the Entertainment Music Co. with Charles Koppelman and Sam LeFrak. Bandier and Koppleman would next partner in 1986 with Stephen Swid to form SBK Entertainment, which they sold to EMI in 1989, when Bandier became the head of music publishing for EMI. After building EMI into a publishing powerhouse, he moved over to Sony/ATV in 2006 and turned that into the industry's largest publisher.

So how does it feel to win this award?

It's pretty terrific, knowing the company I am in considering the people that have been presented this award in the past.

That is indeed some pretty good company you are keeping.

It feels very lofty to be presented this award, and it's particularly exciting for me at this time because I am the first publisher to win. The award is satisfying in itself but it's also giving great recognition to songwriters, who are under extreme pressure because of the small amounts of performance income they are getting from streaming services.

Since you are being presented this award in recognition of your significant contributions to the music industry and numerous philanthropic endeavors, are there any highlights of those accomplishments that you want to talk about?

The biggest thing that I am proud of is contributing to Syracuse University, which I graduated from and am a trustee [for]. I founded [in 2006 the Bandier] Program for Music and Entertainment Industries. It's an incredible program and it's small — we get something like 400 applications a year, but we only accept 25 or 28 or so. I don't want it to be bigger because the size of the program gives those students an opportunity to focus on every issue of the industry. Those students come out as knowledgeable as can be on all aspects of the music business and entertainment industries. They understand all the problems, the issues and the upside. It was recognized by The Hollywood Reporter as being in the top 20 schools of its kind in the country. In the first year, the first thing I did was buy every one of the students a subscription to Billboard, who were kind enough to give us a break on the price.

What is exciting is that most of those kids have found jobs, and I run into them all the time, whether they are working for managers, agents in publishing and record labels, and they tell me they are a Bandier graduate. Often you work with charity and don't get to see the results, so this is the most rewarding one for me. It is a wonderful program and I am proud of it and the kids that come out of it.

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