After starting out as a freelance writer and producer for TV programs, Ed St John became a well-known music journalist and editor, with quite a following and an insider’s understanding of the industry. It therefore came as no surprise when Sony Music Australia headhunted Ed St John in 1993 to manage their advertising and special products unit. With an annual budget of above $10 million, he could buy media and scheduling slots, and introduce new ideas for special products and TVC production. In his next role, as Director of Marketing for the Columbia label, reporting directly to the Marketing and Promotions GM, he attracted to the label artists of the calibre of Neil Diamond and Mariah Carey.
Later, Ed St John would also serve as CEO and President of Warner Music Australia. During his five years with the company – a time of major change in the industry – he was in charge of all the company’s activities in New Zealand as well as Australia, keeping the company in the black and selling in excess of $100 million at a time when few if any companies in the sector could make such a claim. In part, his success with Warner can be attributed to his skilled handling of distribution deals with top players in the field. He saw ‘digital’ on the cards and moved into the new space with a great deal of energy and creativity. At the same time, he recognized that the company would have to downsize, restructure itself, and make use of change management strategies to maintain its lead in the market and its profitability.
Ed St John is a seasoned executive with experience that spans more than twenty years in the Australian music industry. He worked with some of the foremost international recorded music groups during a period in which the worldwide music industry underwent unprecedented changes, represented both in the music and business arenas. Digital music became the name of the game, bringing about significant changes in both the distribution and marketing of music. St John has also been actively involved in professional organizations related to the music industry, including having served, inter alia but not only, as Chairman of the Board of the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) – an organization primarily focused on promoting the music industry in Australia; Member of the Board of PPCA – a non-profit organization that licenses Australian businesses to play recorded music in public; and a Board Member of EDC – a joint venture between music giants Sony, Warners and EMI.
Currently Ed St John is a self-employed independent consultant, putting his many years of industry experience and contacts good use. As well as consulting to the television production giant, Fremantle Media, on two new formats, he is also responsible for all star casting negotiations for this company. Ed St John has also consulted for Shine Australia, another prominent Australian television production company. Shine is responsible for having brought some of the most popular entertainment programs to Australia, among them Top Model and Masterchef. During the last quarter of 2011, and as a consultant to Shine Australia, Ed St John was responsible for casting the superstars who served as judges for the hit music talent show The Voice, one of the most watched shows on Australian TV. In a slightly different angle on the music industry, Ed St John is a non-executive director of Ordior, a company that offers proprietary software used to report and tract royalties generated by all types of digital content – music, books, news, and games. This is Software as a Service (SaaS) product, i.e. offered over the web, and comes to fill an ever more urgent need in the exponentially growing digital content market.
Prior to branching out as an independent consultant, Ed St John was the President and CEO of Warner Music, responsible for managing the operations of the company in Australia and New Zealand. During his tenure with Warner the company staff numbered 100 employees, eight of whom reported directly to S. John, and its annual turnover was in excess of $100 million. During this time he managed successful distribution deals with a number of companies prior to acquisition by Warner, including Liberation Music and ABC. Ed St John was also responsible for restructuring the company that, among other changes, led to the establishment of digital sales, promotion and marketing.
When Australian television production powerhouse Shine Australia started preproduction on The Voice, one of their top priorities was successful negotiations with the four superstars who would play the role of “Coach”. So one of the first items on the producer’s ‘to do’ list was getting Ed St John on board to conduct celebrity negotiations.
Ed St John is not a recording artist or a performer, but he has a lifetime of experience in the entertainment business beginning with a fifteen year career as an insightful music journalist. He segued from writing to marketing and management at international music giants Sony, BMG and Warner Music Australia and New Zealand, where he was President and Chief Executive Officer. At each of these companies, St. John had to be an innovator and architect of change in order to succeed in the evolving world of international music. He became an expert at youth and brand marketing, digital marketing and distribution, artist management and merchandising and much more. He developed an eye for emerging trends and a keen sense of what could turn them into sensations. He also became an expert at negotiating productive deals with even the most difficult personalities.
In addition to working with Shine Australia on The Voice and other projects, St. John divides his time between an interesting and varied collection of ventures. He is currently consulting to Fremantle Media, which produces Australia’s Got Talent, Australian Idol, Everybody Dance Now and a long list of original and franchised programming. It is interesting to note that St John first became involved with Fremantle during his tenure at BMG Australia & New Zealand and he negotiated a deal which promised a BMG recording contract to the winners of Australian Idol. This turned out to be a win-win deal for all concerned parties, as the discs put out by the season one winner and runner up (Guy Sebastian and Shannon Noll) were huge financial successes.
As a savvy marketing professional and executive, St John had to stay in touch with global marketing trends. He led Warner through the transition from traditional marketing to digital marketing. Today, he is once again at the forefront of change through his involvement in three exciting new companies. Live Board is a startup company that is revolutionizing real estate signage by offering patented, digital outdoor signs that can offer live property images, instant updating and many more state of the art functions. St John is on the Board of Directors of Live Board and is engaged in the capital raising process.
Ed St John played a similar role in the launch of Shooii.com, Australia’s online shoe store. Through St John’s efforts to raise launch capital for the company, Shooii.com was able to go live earlier than expected.