ARIA Board

Denis Handlin, AO

ARIA Chairman

Denis Handlin is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sony Music Entertainment Australia and New Zealand. He commenced his career with the company in 1970 and has been leading it since 1984. For ten years from 2010, Denis oversaw Sony Music’s operations in the Asia and Middle East region as President of Asia.

Denis is renowned for his championing of Australian artists. Under his leadership, artists such as Men at Work, Midnight Oil, Silverchair, John Farnham, Daryl Braithwaite, Tina Arena, Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian, Tones And I, The Kid Laroi, Amy Shark, Tash Sultana, Peking Duk, Gang of Youths and Ruel have achieved international recognition and success.

Denis has been a member of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Board since 1984. He was Chairman of ARIA between 1999 and 2008, and was then reappointed Chairman from September 2010 and continues to hold that position. Denis has also held positions on the Boards of several industry associations including Chairman of the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) and Chairman of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) Asia Pacific Board. 

Denis’ awards and achievements include becoming the first Sony Music Entertainment executive to be honoured with the Sony Corporation CEO Special Recognition Award in 1996. In 2005, he was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and in 2017, elevated to an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). Denis has also been awarded the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music from the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the ARIA Icon Award. 

Denis is a founding Director of Sony Foundation Australia, which was established in 1998 and has raised over $36 million for youth-based causes. He is the Patron of the Youth Off the Streets Scholarship Program and is a founding Board Member of the Ricky Stuart Foundation that supports children with autism.

George Ash

ARIA Board Member

George Ash is the Managing Director of Universal Music Australia (UMA), a division of the Universal Music Group.

Prior to George's current position with Universal Music Australia, he held positions as Managing Director, Universal Music NZ, Managing Director, MCA Geffen NZ and held key management roles at BMG NZ. George has also held roles in Polygram Manufacturing and in the Retail sector.

George's passion for the music industry began as a musician and has spanned 25 years including holding a variety of roles in key industry bodies within the NZ Industry before relocating to Australia in his current role in 2001.

Libby Blakey

ARIA Board Member

Libby Blakey is the Business Affairs Director for Warner Music Australia. She first joined Warner Music in 2005, after holding the role of Business Affairs Director at Festival Mushroom Music.

Sebastian Chase

ARIA Board Member

Sebastian is the founder MGM Distribution, one of Australia’s most diverse distributors of Australian music, working with many indie  artists including John Butler, The Waifs and The Beautiful Girls. He has played an  integral role in the evolution of Australian music, starting his career by managing legendary bands such as Rose Tattoo, Dragon and the early days of Cold Chisel.

In the 80s, Sebastian established Chase Records, a pioneer at offering major distribution (via CBS, now Sony BMG) to other independent labels such as Survival Records. From there, he established rooArt Records together with Chris Murphy & Justin Van Stom, leaving in the 90s to become a partner in Phantom Records. He later went on to found the Black Yak label in partnership with Tim Freedman from The Whitlams.

Sebastian has become a key advisor to some of Australia’s most iconic talents and his DIY model is changing the way independent artists bring their music to the fans.

Karen Don

ARIA Board Member

Karen Don is Senior Vice President, Legal and Business Affairs for Universal Music Australia (UMA), a division of Universal Music Group.

Karen has been with UMA since July 1999. Before joining UMA, Karen was the in-house lawyer at ARIA and PPCA.

She has been a member of the ARIA Copyright Committee since joining UMA and has participated in a number of industry panels to discuss copyright protections and other intellectual property issues.

Karen holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees from Macquarie University, Sydney.

Sophie McArthur

ARIA Board Member

Sophie McArthur is the General Manager of Digital & Business Development, Australia & New Zealand & Asia at Sony Music Entertainment.

In Sophie’s role at Sony Music, she is responsible for developing new and existing digital music services, and through this, she has established strong partnerships with digital service providers, social platforms, brands and artists to create and execute intergrated creative campaigns. In addition, Sophie has developed innovative business models and strategies to build an ecosystem for artist development and fan engagement.

Her passion for music combined with a global mindset and experience within the Asia Pacific region, has seen her execute global campaigns for key Australian artists including Amy Shark, Tash Sultana and Peking Duk to name a few.

Sophie commenced at Sony Music in 2013, bringing with her a wealth of experience from the entertainment sector with her previous roles at Seven Network, SBS and Pacific Magazines. During her time at Sony Music, Sophie’s focus on forward thinking and innovative solutions has proved invaluable in the ever-changing landscape of the dynamic music industry. Sophie is a proud mentor to many and a passionate advocate for progressive and positive change.

Niko Nordström

ARIA Board Member

Niko Nordström was appointed President of Warner Music Australasia on 1 April 2017 and is based in Warner Music Australia’s Sydney office. Niko previously served as Managing Director of Warner Music Finland (commencing in 2007), and additionally held the role of Vice President of Warner Music Nordics. During Niko’s tenure as Managing Director of Warner Music Finland, the company’s market share has doubled from 15.1 per cent to 30.6 per cent. Warner Music Finland’s A&R success has been well recognized with its artists collecting more than 50 per cent of the all the awards in the Local Grammies and the company being named record label of the year for eight years in a row at the Music Industry Awards.

Before joining Warner Niko ran his own label HMC – Helsinki Music Company, which was an innovative and modern music company with active 360-elements under one roof; label, publishing and agency activities. HMC was bought by Warner Music in 2007. In addition, Niko has held several positions of responsibility in different organizations. He was a chairman of the board of IFPI Finland and also a board member of Gramex, Finland’s copyright society for artists and producers. Niko holds a degree in marketing and business administration at the Helsinki School of Economics.

David Vodicka

ARIA Board Member

David Vodicka is the managing director of the Rubber Group of Companies which includes independent record label Rubber Records and music publisher Rubber Music Publishing. He is also Principal of entertainment law firm Media Arts Lawyers and has had extensive experience with 20 years practice representing all facets of the music industry.

He is a passionate advocate for local music and creative industries and in addition to his position on the ARIA Board, he is presently also chairman of the board of AIR (Australian Independent Record labels association), a current board member of MIFF (Melbourne International Film Festival), the Vice President of the WIN (Worldwide Independent Network) and is also a board member of PPCA (Phonographic Performance Company of Australia).  

Natalie Waller

ARIA Board Member

Natalie Waller is the Head of ABC Music & Events, within the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and has held this role since 2012.

Natalie joined the ABC in 1998 in the ABC Music business team and held various roles including Business Manager. She has worked across many genres within ABC Music mainly specialising in Australian music and championing niche genres. She also works with well-known ABC music brands.

Natalie currently holds the position as Vice Chair on the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) board and is part of the Country Music Association (CMA) Australian Task Force.

Annabelle Herd

ARIA Chief Executive Officer

Annabelle joins ARIA and PPCA following a 16-year career at Network 10 where she most recently held the role of Chief Operating Officer. At Network 10, Annabelle was responsible for leading the network’s broadcast operations; group strategy; corporate and internal communications; interstate markets; policy, regulatory, compliance and government affairs; and lobbying and stakeholder relations.

Prior to Network 10, she spent several years working at senior levels in Canberra with Government, which culminated in four years as Senior Advisor (Broadcasting and Copyright) and Acting Chief of Staff for then Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator the Hon. Richard Alston AO. Her other Canberra based roles included Government Lawyer within the intellectual property branch of the Attorney-General’s Department and Executive Officer of the Australian Digital Alliance and Australian Libraries Copyright Committee from 1996. 

Annabelle received her Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies from the Australian National University. She is a Board Member of Save The Children Australia, and a Council Member of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS). Annabelle was previously a board member of Freeview Australia and Free TV Australia. Annabelle was invited to be a participant in the 2019 McKinsey Remarkable Women Program.