×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer Talks Spotify, Columbia Records Succession, Adele

Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer is set to make a triumphant homecoming to the U.K. next week to receive the country’s prestigious Music Industry Trusts Award on Nov. 6. The event raises money for the BRIT Trust, which supports the BRIT School and industry charity Nordoff Robbins. Previous winners have included Chris Blackwell, Annie Lennox and Roger Daltrey, among others.

Ahead of the honor, Stringer sat for a number of interviews with the British press, including the Times of London, GQ and Music Week, where his revelations included attending 29 consecutive Glastonbury Festivals, and admitting he’d never have predicted Ed Sheeran’s rise to global superstar status.

Some highlights:

On succeeding Doug Morris: “I don’t think we’re alike at all, but he’s taught me a lot… about being someone who looks at a scenario and understands it by just sheer experience and knowledge.”

Adjusting to America: “I made a lot of mistakes because I was British and I didn’t understand the marketplace and I worked for a company that, we joke about it now, but [the Sony BMG merger] was like the Slough and Swindon branches on ‘The Office.’ The reason I went to America was because the company was screwed up. I didn’t get the job because it was great. I got it because it wasn’t in good shape.”

Dealing with superstar artists: “Bob Dylan has seen six of me. I’m passing through. I get on really well with Barbra Streisand, but she’s seen six of me; Bruce Springsteen has probably seen five. Adele will be a part of our company long after I’m gone.”

What a record label does for its releases: “What we’re here for is to magnify. But you have to start with something beautiful. If you enlarge something that isn’t good, it’s like enlarging a picture that’s blurred.”

Signing One Direction and Adele: “Those moments can change the destiny of a record label. The number of artists that make that much difference is less than 10.”

Spotify: “I have huge admiration for everything Spotify has done to build their business. We have a complicated relationship with it now because we have to make sure that we’re represented properly and they don’t bypass us. There’s a temptation there, if they’re valued at what they’re supposed to be valued at, they could become larger than all the labels put together. It is my job to maintain the balance. We don’t control distribution and we are therefore not as much in control of our destinies as we were during the boom of CDs, or the explosion of vinyl in the ‘60s.”

His successor at Columbia and a new head of Epic: “There would’ve been at the beginning. It’s fairly common knowledge I offered it to one person [new Warner Music CEO Max Lousada], and maybe they used that to get somewhere else. … That’s OK. With Columbia, I want someone to do, not exactly what I’ve done, but to take it to a different place. On Epic, it wasn’t something I wanted to happen or envisioned happening. I had to do something about it and really reflect the appropriate conduct of the company. But Sylvia Rhone is there and she’s run labels before, so I’m not actively searching for anybody else at the moment.”

Compiling his playlist for the MIT Award compilation (on Spotify): “It’s sort of like a therapy session. For me, doing that list wasn’t hard, because I can remember where I was the day I heard those records. I remember every detail. Some of those records were tied to the greatest moments of my life.”

His hopes for Sony Music: “I want it to be futuristic, well-run and if people are taught the right way, we’ll always attract artists… If I can add to what we’ve built up, we’re going to be absolutely fine.”

More Music

  • Arnaud de Puyfontaine

    Universal Music Fire Scandal Is 'Just Noise,' Says Vivendi's Arnaud de Puyfontaine

    Backing up comments made yesterday by Yannick Bolloré, CEO of Havas and chairman of Vivendi, Universal Music Group’s corporate parent, Vivendi CEO and chairman of the management board Arnaud de Puyfontaine tells Variety the sale of 50% of the world’s largest music company is moving along as planned and that the recent controversy surrounding a [...]

  • Philippe Zdar

    Cassius Co-Founder Philippe 'Zdar' Cerboneschi Dies in Accidental Fall

    Philippe “Zdar” Cerboneschi, one of the two members of the iconic electro band Cassius, died in Paris on Wednesday, according to his agent. He was 50. The Grammy-winning Cerboneschi “made an accidental fall through the window of a high floor of a Parisian building,” the BBC quoted Cerboneschi’s agent as saying. News of his death [...]

  • Jim Gosnell

    APA Claims Texts Were Fabricated in Lurid Sex Harassment Suit

    A former assistant at APA filed a lurid sexual harassment complaint on Wednesday alleging that a partner at the firm sent her graphic text messages and threatened to have her fired when she refused his advances. The assistant, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, alleges that top management fostered a “toxic, pervasive and [...]

  • Logic Launches BobbyBoy Records as Joint

    Logic Launches BobbyBoy Records as Joint Venture With Def Jam

    Grammy-nominated rapper Logic — aka Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, aka Bobby Hall —has announced a joint venture with Def Jam Recordings for his new label, BobbyBoy Records, which was formerly known as Elysium Records. The imprint’s initial artist roster is comprised of singer-songwriter John Lindahl, Damian Lemar Hudson (featured on “Black Spiderman,” from Logic’s RIAA platinum 2017 album, “Everybody”); Big Lenbo (featured on two previous Logic albums); [...]

  • Adam Lambert Queen

    Adam Lambert on What's Changed for Gay Artists Since His 'American Idol' Run

    Ten years ago, Adam Lambert burst onto the music scene in a blaze of guy-liner, hairspray and sexual ambiguity as America’s most unlikely “Idol.” But while he had the rock star look down and a soaring voice that seduced the hard-to-impress Simon Cowell, Lambert lost. Or did he? While many blamed homophobia for his runner-up [...]

  • Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, Liz TrinneariHeartRadio

    Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello Tease Footage from Their 'Senorita' Video Shoot

    Camila Cabello’s heart, or commercial instincts, may still be south of the border, judging from the title of her new duet with Shawn Mendes, “Señorita,” which hits digital services at midnight Thursday night. Prior to making the announcement Wednesday, both performers had busied themselves on social media teasing fans about their first collaboration since “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content