Sony Music Group chairman Rob Stringer sent a holiday message to the company’s staff, extolling everything from a 30% roster increase to the unexpected current chart dominance of a Christmas song by a returning roster member, Mariah Carey. Obtained by Variety, the memo follows below.
With the 2019 calendar year coming to an end, I’d like to reflect on the journey we have shared this year. Our creative and business strategy this year was as wide, dynamic and complex as any year in our history.
The creation of the Sony Music Group with the collective power of our world class recorded music and music publishing companies has enabled us to share new growth and coordination opportunities whilst maintaining the unique identity of each company. The exciting arrival of Jon Platt to head our global publishing division has also strengthened our wider company.
On the recorded music side we have achieved our objective from the start of the year to dramatically expand our roster by 30 percent to meet the demands of the increasing distribution of music globally through streaming platforms. Every market in the world can now find their own local content and, as a truly global player, we need to reflect this whilst continuing to find true worldwide artists and songs. Hits can come from anywhere as exemplified by the range of countries that produced global hits for us in 2019 from Korea to Holland to Colombia!
We are all motivated by the success of our artists and repertoire and this year we were able to promote some exceptional and fresh talent.
Of course, SMG artist Lil Nas X dominated the No. 1 position on the global singles chart with the innovative genre-blending “Old Town Road.” Sony/ATV songwriter Ed Sheeran was in the top 5 global streaming artists of 2019. SMG artist Camila Cabello’s duet “Señorita” streamed more than one billion times this year. Apache 207 has dominated the German streaming charts in recent months. And, the list goes on, right up to Harry Styles who is expected to have the no.1 album in multiple major global markets this week and Arizona Zervas being no.1 on the U.S. Spotify charts most of this month. Festively, we are thrilled that Mariah Carey’s perennial hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is currently no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Childish Gambino won Record and Song of the Year at the Grammys. Rosalía won Best Album at the Latin Grammys. Maren Morris and Luke Combs won high profile awards at the CMAs. Tom Walker won Best New Artist at the Brit Awards and Tones and I won key awards at the ARIAs.
The incomparable Rihanna joined the Sony/ATV family and we signed superstars Ozuna, Kang Daniel and Nicky Jam to long term recording deals.
We also extended our long-term catalog arrangement with the legendary Barbra Streisand. Kygo continued his relationship with us as an artist and through a label deal and, now we distribute one of Brazil’s most important entertainment companies, Kondzilla.
As part of our growth strategy, we continued to increase our presence in every emerging market, illustrated by our new, more creative-based headquarters in Beijing which opened earlier this year. This growth will remain a priority for us next year as exemplified by continuing to expand our content studio network globally, building new creative spaces in every region around the world.
We have more digital partners than ever before, and we make more audiovisual content than ever before which has broadened our potential content distribution options.
We have been determined to expand our business operations beyond the core of the recorded and publishing businesses.
Our merchandising division has acquired key companies so we now represent the rights of Led Zeppelin and P!NK and many other artists. We recently signed the North American rights to The Beatles as well as Jimi Hendrix’s global merchandise rights.
We have started a huge podcasting strategy that has included joint ventures with some of the leading audio content providers in this space on a global basis.
We continued to search for maximum efficiency and transparency with new tools and portals such as Real Time Royalties and Cash Out. Our new, more artist-friendly recording agreement templates were very well received by the industry and we have continued to aggressively invest in our data and analytics capabilities.
As Rolling Stone magazine recently highlighted, the concept of One Sony is no longer just an idea. We make television programmes together with our sister Sony TV division such as the recent Brad Paisley TV special. We make exclusive musical content for our partner PlayStation’s games such as “Death Stranding.” We co-sponsored Pharrell’s innovative music festival in Virginia with all our Sony partner companies. These types of partnerships will only grow in the future.
Importantly, across the Sony Music Group we all made important strides in the key areas of culture, diversity, inclusion and staff development. We are constantly improving the gender and diversity balance in our workforce. We have further modernized our family friendly benefits and programmes. We have created employee resource groups to give our team members space to come together and advocate vital issues. We have bolstered our global training programmes to create better internal development opportunities for you as well as being more strategic with our communications both internally and externally.
We must continue to strive to be not only bigger but, more importantly, better in all aspects of our business strategy so we are primed for sustainable success over the next decade and beyond. With your collective talent and hard work we are building a creative entertainment company of the future and giving our artists, songwriters and creators the partnerships to thrive in this evolving industry.
Thank you for your incredible support this year and I wish you and your families and friends a happy and peaceful holiday season.
See you in the next decade!