Sony's Music Business Started with this Newspaper Ad 40 Years ago
Following the expiration of its contract with Nippon Columbia in June 1967, CBS expressed a strong desire to establish a record-business joint venture with Sony, and the two companies started negotiations in October the same year. Sony had wanted for some time to enter the content business, and this development came just about the time it reached the conclusion that it had to start producing records under its own brand as a means of strengthening its audio products.
The negotiations went smoothly and after an agreement was signed in December, CBS and Sony immediately applied to set up a new 50-50 joint venture. Government approval was received in February 1968 and CBS/Sony Records Inc. (CBS/Sony), the forerunner of today's Sony Music Group, was established on March 11, 1968.
A year earlier, in July 1967, the Japanese government decided to liberalize the capital market as Japan's expanding economic power fueled growing demand from overseas. The record industry was included among the sectors where up to 50% foreign capital participation was allowed, and CBS/Sony became the first deal following liberalization.
On March 17, just after the company was established, Sony placed a seven-column personnel recruitment ad in the nationwide edition of the Asahi Shimbun. This was a very unusual move at the time (Photo).
Using the headline "We're Looking for People to Build CBS/Sony," the ad placed absolutely no restrictions as to nationality, age, sex, educational background and physical disabilities. Applicants simply had to submit an essay of up to 1,600 characters on "What I'll Do for CBS/Sony," attaching a personal history and CV with photographs. Some 7,000 males and females aged from 14 to 70 from all over Japan applied for just 80 positions.
CBS/Sony opened seven offices around Japan in July 1968 and went into full-scale operation, reaching a memorable milestone on August 21 when it released its first new record. CBS/Sony broke completely with the traditional business style of simply pressing and selling records, which record manufacturers had followed up until then. Instead, it established its own production division, discovered artists and managed them itself, and kept the copyright division that existed from the start and all other rights within CBS/Sony and the Group. By 1978, a mere ten years after establishment, rapid growth enabled it to become Japan's number one record company.
With 2008 marking the company's 40th anniversary, Sony Music Group employs some 1,400 and continues to revolutionize the music industry.