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.