Sony Music Entertainment (SME or ‘Sony Music’) is the New York-based recorded music company fully owned by Japan’s Sony Corporation.
Run by CEO Rob Stringer, Sony Music counts brands such as Epic Records, Columbia Records and RCA within its frontline label family.
Sony Music also fully owns The Orchard, the global distribution and services platform, following a $200m acquisition deal in March 2015.
Artists signed to Sony Music and/or its labels today include Travis Scott, Adele, H.E.R, Pharrell Williams, Mark Ronson, P!nk, Future and Bob Dylan.
Sony Music began life as the American Record Corporation (ARC), founded in 1929 through a merger of numerous record companies.
ARC was then acquired in 1938 by the TV/radio broadcaster Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). The record label was then renamed Columbia Recording Corporation, before changing its name again to Columbia Records Inc. in 1947.
Columbia Records was a big success story in the ’50s, and launched sister label Epic Records in 1953. In 1966, Columbia was renamed as CBS Records as a unit of parent company, CBS-Columbia Group.
Sony entered the picture in November 1987, acquiring CBS Records for $2bn.
Sony then renamed the record company Sony Music Entertainment (SME) in January, 1991.
Perhaps the biggest move in Sony Music’s recent history was its acquisition of Bertelsmann Music Group (the ‘old’ BMG), which began with a merger in 2004 that saw the launch of Sony BMG – in which Sony and Bertelsmann each owned 50%.
In August 2008, Sony announced that it had agreed a deal to acquire Bertelsmann’s 50% stake in Sony BMG, in a $900m acquisition that was finalized in October that year.
Sony Music Entertainment (SME) is a separate entity to Sony Music Entertainment Japan (SMEJ).
In August 2019, Sony Music Entertainment (SME) became part of Sony Music Group (SMG), which also houses the world’s biggest music publishing company, Sony/ATV.
In addition to his role as CEO of Sony Music, Rob Stringer is Chairman of SMG.
SMG reports directly into Sony Corporation in Tokyo.