OWL at ASCRS 2020 | Virtual Signature Event – May 18, 2020

Thank you to all who joined us for our 2020 Virtual Signature event!

“Turning Conversation into Action: A Candid Discussion on Diversity”


Julie Swidler, Executive Vice President of Business affairs and General Counsel – Sony Music Entertainment

Full Bio

As one of the most powerful dealmakers in music today, Julie Swidler brings a rare depth of insight and acumen to her role as executive vice president of business affairs and general counsel for Sony Music Entertainment. Repeatedly featured on Billboard’s Women in Music, Power 100 lists, and honored by the T.J. Martell Foundation, Swidler was the first Label Executive (and first woman) to receive the Grammy Foundation’s ELI Service Award in 2016 given to music attorneys for advancing and supporting the music community through service. That same year (2016), Swidler was honored by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts with its Champion of the Arts award. Swidler oversees the company’s legal, business affairs, and governmental matters on a global level, yet approaches all decision-making with a careful dedication to helping the music industry and its artists to flourish and thrive over the long term.

Since becoming Head of Business Affairs and General Counsel at Sony Music in 2008, Swidler has advised the company’s labels and operating units on everything from strategic negotiations and artist contracts to litigation and joint venture operations. More recently, she has been involved in the company’s new foray into podcasting production and distribution. Swidler also spent several months in 2015 heading up Sony Music Nashville (the company’s country music branch) as it was transitioning between leadership, and sits on VEVO’s board of directors as well.

In 2018, when the Recording Academy wanted to put together a small task force to examine Diversity and Inclusion issues in both the recording academy and the recorded music industry at large, Swidler was tapped to serve in this Task Force. The Task Force delivered its comprehensive report in December, 2019.

With nearly three decades of experience in the industry, Swidler considers her lifelong love of music to be a guiding force throughout her career. The Long Island native’s earliest music memories include snagging a UK edition of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul from her father after an overseas business trip, and while studying political science at Union College she both DJ-ed for the school’s radio station and ran the campus coffeehouse, where she booked live entertainment. After earning her law degree from New York City’s Cardozo Law School, Swidler worked as a litigation associate in two New York law firms and served as operations counsel for J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, then kicked off her career in the music business by becoming a senior attorney for PolyGram Records.

Eventually rising to Senior Vice President Business & Legal Affairs/Mercury Records during her time at PolyGram — where her personal highlights included serving as lead lawyer for Woodstock ’94 and joining Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young onstage at the festival — Swidler left the company in 1999 to work for Clive Davis as head of business and legal affairs for Arista Records. The following year, she joined Davis and other Arista executives in launching J Records, a joint venture with BMG that had, among its first major releases, the multi-platinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning debut album from Alicia Keys. That endeavor ultimately led to the label’s merging with RCA Records to form the RCA Music Group, where Swidler held the position of Executive Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs.

Through the years, Swidler has navigated an ever-changing industry by matching her shrewdness with an unwavering sensitivity to artist issues, a quality she regards as deeply rooted in her love for music. That sense of understanding also extends to her charity work, including her involvement in Rwanda’s Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (a residential community home to those orphaned during and after the 1994 genocide). A mother of three, Swidler also serves as a Vice Chair on the board of the T.J. Martell Foundation, which funds innovative medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer, and AIDS and in 2017 the Foundation honored Swidler with its Lifetime Music Industry Award at its annual Gala celebration. In addition, Swidler never forgot how her college experience allowed her to expand her love of music and was recently elected to her alma mater Union College’s Board of Trustees.


Interviewed by Georgette Pascale, Founder & CEO of  Pascale Communications, Immediate Past President of OWL

Introduction by Joseph Tauber, MD of Tauber Eye Center; longtime friend of Julie Swidler and longtime friend of OWL


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