On what should have been the biggest night of Amy Shark’s career, she was "devastated."

The 2018 ARIA awards should have been the best night of Amy Shark's career.

Even before the awards show in Sydney kicked off, Shark was the most buzzed about artist with nine nominations, the most of anyone that year.

Then the show started, and she took out three major categories: best pop release, best female artist and the biggest award of all, album of the year, for her debut Love Monster.

Video via ARIA.

By the time that final award was called, Shark had already delivered two thank you speeches to the room at The Star.

She gave the standard 'thank yous' twice, thanking her team as well as Sony Music Australia CEO Denis Handlin, the head of her label.

She also used her best female artist win to pay tribute to women in music.

When her name was called out for the third time that evening for album of the year, she kissed her husband Shane Billings before turning to hug Handlin, in the row behind her, and her management team beside her.

On stage, she thanked those who helped make her album, commercial radio stations for playing her music and her fans.

"I really, really wanted this," Shark said through tears. "Not just for me but for my whole team, because there has been so much that's gone into this and everyone has just believed in me and just let me go away and write an album, which is dangerous, but they let me do it."

Image: Getty.


But this time around, she forgot to thank Handlin.

Although she had thanked him in two earlier acceptance speeches, he was reportedly furious of the snub in her speech for the major award, according to sources who spoke to The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age on the condition of anonymity. 

The same story has also been described in The Australian, which also attributed anonymous sources.

As Shark left the stage, Handlin allegedly made two demands: that the speech be re-filmed for TV audiences (the show is filmed hours ahead of TV broadcast), and that someone tell Shark what she'd done.

Shark had to return to stage four minutes after the final speech for the show's closing performance with Keith Urban, so there was never going to be time for her to give the speech again.

Handlin reportedly stormed out of the ceremony, heading to the Sony after-party early.

Following her and Urban's performance, Shark came off stage and her team told her what was going on.

Image: Getty.

Shark was "devastated" to learn of her omission, not just due to Handlin's reaction but because she genuinely respected his opinion.

Sources said later that night at the after-party, Shark was 'subdued' and 'not her usual self', which was especially noticeable given how successful her night had been.

She and Handlin were later seen having a deep conversation in a cordoned off area for VIPs.


During the evening Shark was told by senior managers at Sony Music that she was required to visit the office early the next morning to make a formal apology in the company's boardroom.

"She was broken," one Sony staffer who witnessed the apology told The Sun-Herald

"It was so humiliating for her, and it was so obvious [she had been made to apologise] to teach her a lesson."

Two days later, Shark posted a photo of her and Handlin to social media.

"I tried for years to convince a record label to sign me. Finally wore them down! We have now won 6 Arias in 2 years!” she wrote on Twitter.

"Thank you Denis Handlin for believing in me."

On June 21, Handlin was dismissed "effective immediately", bringing an abrupt end to his 50-year career at Sony.

He began working in the company's Brisbane mailroom in 1970, working his way up to CEO in 1984.

This sacking came after weeks of allegations against the company of a toxic work environment. 

The allegations - which are aimed at the company, not an individual - span 20 years and include sexual harassment at work events, intimidating behaviour, alcohol abuse, racism and the unfair treatment of women in the workplace.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Handlin's departure came weeks after Andrew Davis, Sony Music's global head of human resources, began an investigation into the workplace culture at the Australian arm of the business after a staff member in the Sydney office made a complaint.

The company had engaged an external counsel to conduct the investigation. 

Read more: A 'boys club' and 20 years of allegations: Exactly what's going on at Sony Music Australia.

Feature image: Getty/Twitter.