In Rob Stringer’s youth, growing up in Aylesbury, UK, he had two passions: music, and Luton Town Football Club.
Today, not a whole lot has changed. As Chairman of Sony Music Group, Stringer, based in New York, has an artist-friendly reputation, working closely with modern icons including Adele, Beyoncé, Bob Dylan, Harry Styles, and many others.
He still gets back to England to watch Luton FC matches on weekends, and in May 2019 even became a Director and minority shareholder at the club.
In taking the CEO role, New York-based Stringer stepped up from his previous long-term role as CEO and Chairman of Columbia Records in New York.
In August 2019, Stringer was named Chairman of Sony Music Group, a role he undertakes in addition to his responsibilities as CEO of Sony Music Entertainment.
Rob Stringer: Sony Music career and David Bowie relationship
With a strong reputation as an artist-friendly major label executive, Stringer has also worked closely with acts across his career such as David Bowie, George Michael, Sade, The Manic Street Preachers, The Chainsmokers and Daft Punk.
In fact, when Stringer won the lifetime achievement ‘Strat’ Award from UK trade paper Music Week in April 2014, David Bowie wrote him an open letter to mark the occasion.
When I first knocked on the door of his office at Sony, New York, you can imagine my surprise when a member of Daft Punk opened it. In silence he brought me in and indicated that I should take a seat on the comfy armchair to the right of the chairman’s desk, around which he moved and took his place in the chairman’s chair.
He removed the shiny helmet. It was Rob.
‘This,’ he said ‘is how far I will go for my artists.’ I found out that during the course of that day Rob had not only guested as an executive third Daft Punk member at a lunchtime gig at a club in Manhattan, but had also led a Dylanology symposium at Barneys clothing store, sung falsetto on a new London Grammar track and choreographed a touching interpretive dance number to One Direction’s ‘They Don’t Know About Us’ for the cast of Glee.
Knowing him for the man he is, it came as no surprise that he had won tonight’s most prestigious award, The Strat.
If you become the object of his enthusiasm an artist will find a genuine long-term support that is sadly missing in the recording industry.
When he asked me if I minded if he took a few Saturdays off from his duties as percussionist on my new album this year in order to catch the Luton Town football club fixtures, how could I refuse? It’s the least I could offer to the man who with his own hands pulled my album to number one throughout the world.
Congrats for The Strat, Rob. You’re a star.
Rob Stringer: Other key information
One of the most significant moves from Rob Stringer during his tenure as Sony Music CEO to date came in March 2018, when the company informed its artists and distributed labels that it would share with them hundreds of millions of dollars attained via the sale of 50% of its holding in Spotify.
That Spotify share sale took place in calendar Q2 2018, from which Sony received some $768m. Unlike rival Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment informed artists and labels that it would share this money with them, crucially without taking into account any unrecouped balances owed to the company. This move was widely applauded by artists and artist managers alike (chiefly as it meant significantly more money would land in their pockets, rather than stay with Sony).
Stringer has received a number of other awards throughout his 30+ year career, including UJA’s Music Visionary of the Year in 2013, presented by Adele, the Clive Davis Visionary Award from Billboard magazine in 2016, and the Music Industry Trusts (MITs) award in 2017.
Discussing his strategy for Sony Music in 2018, Stringer said: “As a global company, we have aggressively invested in data and analytical tools to interpret the billions of commercial and marketing data points we receive from partners and services around the world on a daily basis.
“While our capabilities are global in scale, our execution is hyper-targeted by market. With our proprietary tools, we are able to discover artists earlier and drive sales and marketing efficiency, monitor customer behaviour and guide creative decisions.”Music Business Worldwide