Columbia Records chairman and CEO Rob Stringer has been named chief executive officer of Sony Music Entertainment, it was announced on Oct. 18. He will report to Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment. Current SME CEO Doug Morris will transition to the role of Chairman in April 2017.
A veteran of the company, the well-liked executive had been rumored to take the throne for the past several months as negotiations have been ongoing. Columbia has had a tremendous run in recent years, with Morris and co. increasing Sony Music’s market share and profitability to become "the second largest music company in the world," the statement announcing Stringer's appointment reads.
Under Stringer, Columbia, the leading label by market share, has seen Adele's latest album sell more than 10 million copies, as well as successful releases by Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Barbara Streisand, Bob Dylan, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk, John Legend, One Direction and Tony Bennett. Stringer was also a key player in the release of David Bowie's final album, Blackstar.
Stringer was No. 14 on the Billboard Power 100 in 2015.
“Rob Stringer is one of the most skilled and successful executives in the music industry," said Lynton. "His efforts and achievements at Columbia have contributed immeasurably to the overall strength of Sony Music worldwide. Not only is he a tremendous developer of talent and nurturer of stars who has overseen numerous massive hits, but also he is an innovator who understands how to grow revenue and market share in the rapidly changing music business. His ability to adapt to meet the needs of artists and fans in a dynamic marketplace that mixes digital audio, visual media and physical goods makes him the perfect fit to head the company moving forward. I am thrilled to have him leading Sony Music’s next chapter.”
Of Morris, Lynton added: “I want to thank Doug for his dedication and continued commitment to Sony Music. He has been an innovative force in the music business for over five decades and I look forward to working with him in this next phase of his outstanding career. In his new advisory role he will report directly to me. Since 2011, he has expertly led Sony Music through some of the most transformative and challenging issues facing the music industry, while each year increasing the company’s market share and profitability. His passion for music, devotion to artists and tireless energy has made Sony Music the industry leader it is today.”
Morris commented on his successor as well. "Rob is a passionate and competitive executive who understands the importance and value of hits, and like a heat-seeking missile, he locks onto great artists," he said. "Most importantly, he is one of the finest people I know. And moving forward, Sony Music Entertainment will be in the great hands of Rob Stringer."
Finally, Stringer stated: “As someone who has spent his entire career at Sony Music, it is a tremendous honor to be named CEO. I would like to thank Kaz Hirai and Michael Lynton for believing in the value and power of music, and for their continuing support of me. I’d also like to extend a special thanks to Doug for both his friendship and mentorship to me personally, as well as for the great leadership and service he has provided to Sony Music. This is a time of enormous opportunity and change for the music business. I am excited to work with the great team we have built at Sony Music to continue to be a champion for artists, and further adapt and grow the business as we meet the challenges ahead.”
No official word yet on who will take the reins at Columbia, but news is sure to come in the coming weeks. Other names in the rumor mill include current Sony Music CFO Kevin Kelleher, who has been tapped as COO, sources tell Billboard.