Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer was feted with the Music Industry Trusts Award at a star-studded gala in London On Monday night (Nov. 6). The annual event recognizes British luminaries who’ve made an impact on the global music business and also raises money for the Brit School, Adele’s alma mater, and Nordoff Robbins, a charity dedicated to music therapy for children. The MITs event had raised more than 20 million GBP since its formation in 1989.
Among the artists in attendance to toast the beloved executive were Harry Styles, Camila Cabello, Hozier, George Ezra, members of Spandau Ballet and Depeche Mode and ELO’s Jeff Lynne. The award was presented to Stringer by members of the first band he signed, Manic Street Preachers, in an amusing speech that gave nods to Stringer’s favorite soccer team, Luton Town, along with his work ethic and supportive family, all of whom were in attendance — including older brother Sir Howard Stringer. “[Rob’s] engine is unbelievable,” said Manic’s Nicky Wire during his speech, which also extolled his “truly phenomenal talent for swearing — f—king staggering, actually.”
Stringer moved from his native United Kingdom to New York in 2006, taking the helm at Epic Records and then Columbia, whose roster includes such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Beyonce, and Adele, each of whom — save for Beyonce — recorded video tributes to the label boss. Adele’s clip featured the singer without makeup and in full baby mode. She also revealed that she was in the midst of a cleanse.
In accepting the honor, Stringer thanked several dozen employees and longtime associates from both sides of the pond, including Sony Latin boss Afo Verde, UK chief Jason Iley, and Sony chairman Doug Morris, whom Stringer called “a f—ing legend,” noting that, “He’s been chairman of every major record label and that will never happen again.”
Between the speeches, the crowd of 1,100 was treated to performances by Styles, who was fighting the flu but managed to deliver an acoustic take on “Two Ghosts” — “a song I’m told Rob likes,” said the One Direction member. Camila Cabello ran through two songs including her current hit “Havana,” after which she made a bee-line for Simon Cowell’s table for a quick hello. “Budapest” by George Ezra was another highlight as was the closing performance by Jeff Lynne’s ELO which had the room on its feet.
The convivial Stringer made sure there were plenty of laughs, joshing Sony signing Sade by noting, “She’ll put a record out before 2027,” and taking a jab at competitor Universal Music by declaring that, during an earlier trip to the Brit School, he signed every able student over 14 just in case there was another Adele in the bunch. Even the amount of interviews Stringer did in the lead-up to the MITs became a punchline, at the expense of press darling Sam Smith. “I’m gonna go behind the curtain after this,” said Stringer, cracking that it would be a decade before he talked to another British outlet.
But all jokes aside, the night was an important one for music education and the cause was not lost on Stringer. In fact, a commemorative book for the event which included congratulatory ads was the MITs biggest ever, it was announced during the show.
Previous recipients of the Music Industry Trusts Award include Simon Cowell, Sir George Martin, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, among others.