A Conversation with Randy Goodman, Chairman & CEO

We interviewed Randy Goodman of Sony Music Nashville, and he shared how he hires his executive team. The connections between Goodman’s experience hiring rock stars and hiring rock star candidates for his e-team are profound.

The highlights of the interview:

  • Hiring friends can be okay, even on the executive level
  • Bad team does not mean bad leader when looking at job history
  • Relationships always matter, especially for executive hires
  • Referrals are always relevant, even for executive hires
  • Successful people hire people smarter than they are

Chad Harrington

When I asked Sony Music Nashville Chairman & CEO Randy Goodman about how he hires his executive team, his stories connected to the same way he finds rock star caliber artists.

Goodman said, “As much as I want to sign rock star, I want to *hire* rock stars, because I want the best and brightest around me.”

Relode: How do you hire for your executive team?

Randy Gooman. Image credit: Sony Music Nashville

Randy Goodman: “You know with Sony, I came in as the new Chairman & CEO. For me, it’s coming back to this—because I started my career at RCA and that became BMG and then it was Sony BMG, and now it’s Sony—so kind of coming back to where I began my career. As you can imagine, there was a whole team that’s in place.

“I brought in my COO, because it was somebody who we had grown up in the business together. He’s a few years younger than me, but he had had a long extensive career at Universal and decided to leave that. He and I had worked together in the nonprofit world—I really liked the way he thought, he shared my cultural views on things.

Sports analogy for executive team hiring at Sony

RG: “So for me a lot of it is having the time, and in our business, it’s not unlike the sports world. Somebody gets fired from the Chiefs, then the Raiders hire the coach. It’s not dissimilar in the music world, because running a record company is a very unique kind of thing. Just like with a sports team, a coach can go through a bad patch or has a bad General Manager or didn’t get the right talent, so they are the ones who take the fall and someone else hires them. Then, they may be successful, because the dynamics are different.”

My takeaway. As Goodman says, a bad sports team doesn’t mean a bad coach. Take the coach out of the context and he might thrive with a new team. Similarly, just because a General Manager has had a bad experience with their team, doesn’t mean they’re a bad GM. Perhaps they’re worth hiring anyway. That’s true for coaches and it’s true for executive team members.

Finding rock stars = finding rock star candidates

Cam. Image credit: Sony Music Nashville


RG: “Finding music talent was about developing the relationship, talking about the music and what we could bring to the table, which is not unlike if you were trying to hire a software or programming person who was a hot shot person and other people were trying to get them.

“There’s a courting process that goes on so that you’re taking them off the market, so to speak, and away from other people. Eventually you make a deal and that secures them and lands them at the label.”

On relationships for effective e-team hiring

RG: “It’s not dissimilar in our business, where there are people who continue to work in this business. They work in different ways, but you identify the people who you say to yourself, If I had the opportunity, I’d really love to hire that person.

“Maybe over time you begin to develop a relationship. You say, ‘I want to take you to lunch, I want to find out about you, I want to know you, I want to meet you.’ That begins to develop a relationship and a rapport so that when the time is right and they might have a contract that they are out of. Then you can go after them.”

On referrals for effective e-team hiring

RG: “Part of how I get candidates is through observation and through referrals. Then, again, I have a whole senior staff who is under me, and those men and women are really the ones in charge. If it’s a digital person, they’re going out there and, of course, you’ve got to post. They’re also doing the same thing that I am. They’re looking around and saying, If that person ever became available, they’d be great for this slot that we’ve got.”

On hiring people smarter than you

RG: “For me—anything like that—I’m just trying to be aware of the folks that are around me or our competitors. I’m always looking for who’s smarter than me. I just want to surround myself with people smarter than me in different areas, the people who are going to come and engage me in some kind of robust dialogue.”

My reflections on how Goodman finds rock star candidates

My interview with Randy Goodman revealed the amazing similarities between finding rock stars and finding metaphorical rock stars for an executive team like Sony Nashville.

Do you see any other connections to add to the list? Drop a line below.

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