Insiders also forecast who could lead Columbia Records.
The Oct. 18 appointment of Rob Stringer, chairman/CEO of Columbia Records, to chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment (SME), succeeding industry veteran Doug Morris, 77, was nothing if not a fait accompli. Stringer, who will report to Sony Corp. chief Michael Lynton, had led Columbia to one of its best years ever, with the diamond certification of Adele’s 2015 album, 25 (10.1 million equivalent album units earned in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music); Beyonce’s Lemonade (2.1 million); and, more recently, out-of-the-gate successes by Solange (106,000) and a string of hit singles by The Chainsmokers and Calvin Harris.
“We were always hoping that eventually he was going to get the job,” says Simon Cowell, head of Syco Entertainment and a partner with Columbia on TV-born acts like One Direction and Susan Boyle. “Or I certainly was. I was terrified he might go somewhere else. Rob is a very special person. He’s passionate, loyal, reliable, honest and genuinely loves his artists. He’s competitive -- not to the point of crazy, but I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of Rob in a deal. I’ve seen what he can do.”
Stringer’s tenure with the company goes back some 30 years. The 54-year-old native of Aylesbury, England, started in the marketing department of Sony predecessor CBS Records in 1985, rising to managing director of Epic Records in 1992 and, in 2001, chairman of Sony Music U.K. By then rooted in A&R (his first signing was British rock band Manic Street Preachers and he’s long been a fixture at concerts, both big and small), Stringer rose to chairman of Sony BMG U.K. following the two companies’ merger in 2004; two years later, he moved stateside to become chairman of Sony Music Label Group. In 2008, Sony Corp. absorbed BMG’s half of the joint venture and Stringer was appointed to the top job at Columbia.