Read this: BONUS Rob Stringer, Sony Music CEO
Summary: PodcastDownload MP3 www.bbc.co.ukBONUS Rob Stringer, Sony Music CEO…
Hello, I'm amol Rajan and this is an exclusive interview just for the media Show podcast Rob stringer is CEO of Sony Music one of the biggest players in the recording industry RCA Columbia epic all famous labels in the Sony Empire artists include Miley Cyrus Calvin Harris Shakira indeed a huge roster of superstars from Every Corner of the Globe life is good for Sony Music unlike the world of TV where the likes of Netflix have got the incumbents Running Scared Sony has had nothing to fear from the digital disruptors the companies in Norwich catalogue of music music streaming services like Spotify I collect you paying them 5 million dollars a day in royalties Rob stringer has been in the business for over 30 years and I've seen first-hand the Revolution in how we now consume music he started out as a scout and did he discovered the Manic Street Preachers and when you came by the media show studio I started by asking whether as CEO he still has a hand in signing new.
I mean I round labels in the UK and us for really over 20 years so did my bit in the trenches and being out there looking at what was going on now.
I have people than my job is to hopefully meant to the people who do that but every now and again something will come my way and I'll say actually this is special and this we should do it another see after 33 years at the same company you build up a list of contacts are sometimes I get stuff first and sometimes.
I'm able to pass it on to the people who work with me then be honest cos if we completely fascinating.
Do you ever hear new signings that some of your top team of Maiden think to yourself.
I just don't get it.
I just don't get it now and algorithms and paste to the most part but always be subjective really so so someone making without having a domain name on my hair because because then I'll go I know I'm not going to have never signed.
Not only been successful, but acts I've also talked with great that I just wouldn't have seen and I kinda like the subjectivity of that tastes some degree because someone will see something you know in something that someone else won't how is the digital Revolution change the act of Scouting because there was his very traditional cut romantic idea or going on see the manager thinking this is it now you can see you on Instagram YouTube Snapchat where you want to be so how has technology changed scouting for Talent what is change that mean we have statistical teams now literally looking at data and statistics all day long traffic traffic.
You know internet traffic and various touchpoints of whether something looks like it's got an audience, but the fact is it's still there still have to be some degree of Personality inject into the processor mean.
I tell my own our team which is the people who look at looking for the talent that Just Cause 4 stats a good if we ratio in the middle of a Rainy Night on.
And this panel decided to terrible but the stats have told us they were good for one song maybe then then that's not what we want either in her.
It's like I'm in the data is dramatic now because of the streaming services, but sometimes something can appear in a different way later on and sometimes that can be way more longevity than than an actor in Stanley has good stat so the Revolution that you've ever seen in the course of your career as a shift of music from physical products to streaming right now.
Have you got Google Spotify and apple roughly where you want them? I don't think I'll ever be a case of companies of that size of we have the way we want them and I don't think it'd be very healthy if we did because we used to own physical distribution and that always wasn't beneficial to the hardest all the consumers we would like Kelsey competition amongst distribution, but there has been a major shift at the end of day.
We used to run that distribution were used to own factories and used to make discs and vinyl and now we don't all Sony Hill held at
Spotify when Spotify listed earlier this year you cashed in her from that the Sony don't see Spotify as the Threat that people in the record industry said it was 10 years ago well festival.
We are we did cash in we we sort half ishares, so if you like we have stop it.
I mean till you get some back tinnitus.
Yes, and we go back to the artist which was which is the which was a deliberate strategy because we wanted to say to the artist that the reason we have most of these shares although we did buy shares at a later.
They are cells that are at market value.
We we decided that we wanted to show artist community that we would share in the upside from the streaming Revolution so that was tactical but also we had a decent percentage of shares, so we where we've also still got 40% the shares and we haven't made any firm decision, what will do with that 50% yet really scary Spotify spend spend still do spend an enormous amount of money licensing music from record companies like yours and then.
The way the Logical move with them is to reduce the expense by moving into signing artists directly do yours of terms of the Year the arrangements that you have with Spotify me that they can't actually do that.
Could they do that an orbit Direct probably would we have ways of dealing with that probably part of it is that I don't think Spotify want to be funding the entire development process and we still have thousands of people literally that that hopefully we can get face in the same direction the global basis and Spotify don't claim to have those thousands of people globally they are in a dro digital distribution platform.
So so I think we provide a lot of services, but you know sometimes Alliance can be blurred and I think quite frankly with both learning as we go along in our it's like some of it's neutered Emin it's new to us to the big trend that we've seen in media global Media to the Western media the last 80.
Months is a marriage of content and distribution refine this.
Take me in TV comcast and Sky and fox and Disney figure out what happened with Netflix removed into original content and are a streaming service the flipside of what you're saying is it in a way it would be logical wouldn't for Sony to move into streaming and you had a streaming service Call Music Unlimited but you said it down.
Why is it not sensible 4 uco to setup your own streaming service in any distribution platform? It's all about timing and maybe when we set up a distribution was too early distribution system was as much about digital downloads as it was streaming and that's digital downloads felt like a relatively new chapter 15 years ago and now they are digital downloads of making way for the streaming platforms so for my point of view.
It's all about timing and maybe we will do something that will give us more control over distribution, but but you can't argue with the fact in the disk peculiar chapter Spotify leading the way that they they built a robust than futuristic distribution.
Business at you looking at right now.
Have you got other people in the works as say nothing is nothing is impossible and and I would I would I would say though that it's possibly now that the next chapter of distribution not this chapters.
Disney pulling out of Netflix saying hang on a second.
What are we putting all of our films available on Netflix and how did Netflix go? Why don't we launch our own direct-to-consumer free and they're doing that? It would be a similar Sullivan net for Rob stringer to say hang on a second.
Why Sony giving all this stuff to Spotify making them strong.
Why don't we got some fantastic artist? Why do we pull out and say to people if you wanna pay for your subscription you want to stream Candice only Direct and obviously we do have control over a huge amount of content and Talent and hundreds of thousands of tracks going back 200 years so so we have quite a lot of leverage and and and I think it's the way we monitor the situation about how to shift our business the same as a streaming platforms really you know do you know do we want to?
Take all our stuff off a major streaming platform that we don't want to do that because because we have an arrangement that's that's working for both of us the moment but but the next chapter which might be in 5 years who knows one of the idiosyncrasies of international copyright law is that YouTube pays that much more amounts of royalties than other streaming services how annoying do you find out and how's that distorting the music industry again? They built a very robust platform and having their based on an advertising model you know so at the end of the day.
It's a different model.
It's certainly different global reach to the streaming platforms in some ways, but we just monitor the amount of economic usage that we can get from our from Mark II titles and there are some things that we we will do for some platforms on her other things that we were to other platforms and in YouTube have just launched a subscription service which we are very supportive of because we feel that.
It is a slightly more practical platform in the in in combination with apple and Spotify so we'll see I mean you know we we have plenty of territories around the world where YouTube is the number one music provider and you can't ignore that really if you go back to the start of your career back in the Mists of time and think about how you came to phone music off the Newfound music because some famous personal Sam DJ somewhere made a judgement as to what it would be good for you to listen to if you think about now and the fact that if you're a to pick on Spotify Spotify subscriber.
It's an algorithm within Spotify that all look at what you're listening to and send you suggestions for music.
Do you mean the slight loss of human taste judgement and experience in the serendipity by which people come across new music or Spotify and apple realise that too as well.
Isn't purely algorithmic Justice
Rapcaviar was was fine and editors choice as well and rap caviar is probably the number one curated playlist in in Sonning America if not globally and and that bad that has a fair degree of personal taste, so I think that I don't need the streaming platforms would never say that it's purely about the algorithm and and we don't want to be about the algorithm quite frankly the same way as we also didn't want it to be in her in the previous chapter only radio producers deciding what was good to go on the radio stations because obviously there's plenty of examples in the past where radio stations said that isn't it? And then it turned out to be really big hit radio producers ensure that sounds like a terrible idea and the BPI the British phonographic industry said last month that British exports of music are at their highest level since 2000.
Why is it that Britain produces such a disproportionate number of superstars ok? That's a perfect set up to say the BBC's is this something to do with that then of the BBC
Listen to that because it's not genre based.
It has a mandate and a policy to try and provide diverse music and I and I think that therefore the melting pot culture of British pop music is that is always been unique always going back to write really post The Beatles and from that early 60s.
There's a unique brand music which is a real hybrid coming out of our Great Britain that's always been the case and it's always been quirking.
It's always been eccentric you mentioned John Peel a minute going back to the 70s.
There's always been a Leftfield start the music that can get into the centre and that's a that's a unique Property that isn't necessarily replicated in many markets around the world.
So sorry not I grew up starting with junior choice on a journey through Radio 1 to John Peel in the 70s and and I think several people several hundreds of thousands of fans of music goes do that journey with the BBC to them and many the mission to the media show on Radio 4.
And I take a lot of them a lot of him certainly ones that I've met would say that actually if you look at the music of the 60s and 70s the Legends that came out of that era from Motown to Barry to whoever that modern music just doesn't have the same emotional depth is same texture the same greatness that there's something about electronic dance music which has forfeited the soul of music.
What would you say to music lovers who say that it ain't as good as that used to be I think that's only generational.
I mean it is a mature art form now and I'm definitely in certain chapters of the music industry.
The music was unheard of but the truth is that the The Beatles listen to blues and rock and roll coming from North America you know and then the blend of Music now that goes into the art form of hip-hop.
Is is incredibly cross-sectional and Anna I know I don't like that.
Doesn't that pop that can't bother me where I sit hopefully.
I understand that something new and exciting come along.
I mean I get asked a lot of these questions about its rock music dad is the music the same ENT you know to my mind if you listen to Kendrick Lamar he's got as much the same as any protest singer of the 60s and look at the infinitive Dr Dre Amy needs a swimming modern vivarium exactly.
I think that you know Kendrick Lamar just won the Pulitzer Prize in I work with lots of artists that that I think have a lot to say and I know and music is much more of a hybrid now because it has to be because it's a mature form.
It's it's really populist music.
Is is not far off a centriole now.
You know so there's bound to be derivation is bound to be repeating history to some degree, but I think it's I think music is more fragmented now, but I don't think it's any less exciting when I put them when I was 14 years old has the importance of DJs on linear radio music stations if we're honest.
Has it reduced? I think it depends on what demographic you're talking about young people these so-called replenishes that advertises so excited about that you classed as replenishes the rod stringer doesn't know that believe I've got a catchphrase out of this interviewer replenishes.
I can't be doing to do a weekend away on the replenishes.
No, I think yes, I think that the younger generation do not need the same community as as previous generations and I think their community is their own playlist which they share and influences and and maybe it's slightly more anonymous, but the but the fact is as I said some of the best playlists on streaming platforms are created by people worry the algorithmic influence that the rise of streaming is individualising music personalizing it in a way that does take away something special.
No because I think the sharing still the same and I used to listen to I used to record on a cassette John Peel for the three tracks on the session and then I used to give the cassette to a friend of mine who copy on.
Another cassette with copy onto another cassette and I preferred to B16 doing it like this now where I could send someone at a track on my playlist fire in our social Media platform.
I'd much prefer that mean.
Oh I understand why people get this Township but actually fuel of music is much better now.
It's much better than I would have loved access to 212 this amount of music when I was 4, I should maybe I've never finish school if I did this much music in an hour and I was able to listen to this 24-hours a day and I've been taking my head would have been swimming because I would have learnt so much about music and probably not done any work at school but but the fact is that I would love to be in a situation with this much access to two wonderful library.
Did you ever pirate music did have a pirate music? I think I may have been once February 1976, but then I think what was it.
You farted literally that you should take the radio then and if my favourite song come on the radio I can remember.
When I was 11 years old Killer Queen came on the radio and I had to tape it with a handheld mic to the radio for my cassette player because I might not hear it again for four more days.
So so I mean I would go to the I was such a music fan.
I will go to desperate measures to try and hear my favourite music again.
So so oh gosh it must be wonderful being 14 years old nothing interdax, Australia and Shazam this is my mother used to regulate my wife up the why can you Shazam in a cinema? I can I'm watching TV and I rewind rewind the programming Shazam the track because I don't know what it is.
So she's animals being that way if you literally stick your phone to some music by a quite extraordinary process of Engineering at your phone will listen to it and say what the track is that mean that this is all stuff, but both of us would have loved when we were when we were kids growing up with the music.
I mean the device is a marvellous.
I mean you can get nostalgic for sitting around her you know.
Radiogram or you go for putting vinyl on but you know what this is this is an access to everything so I mean I like I can't see there's any Downside today.
You said that your brother how it is 20 years old new and Vietnam warfare went on to have a very very very distinguished career in American media chief.
Exec of Sony round the CBS network was your role model.
What did you know him well at the age gap is obviously unusual so so if it's very much like a father figure to me and I got I got to come to America in the mid 70s when England was three grey really in that time period glam rock but it was great part of my life and I got to go to America and I got two first of all I got to go to America around the time of great music coming from America and and it just took me not to feel anything because he was a really prince of the news journalist and that was his passion and I was sitting around even though I was a brat form of former provincial town.
I got to see.
The Sword of the bigger world in a larger scale and it didn't intimidate me really because I was brought into that world so comfortable by my brother and even though I was unsure very annoying at that age that the I found it son of enticing really the media.
Where was enticing for me you say provincial town in a way that I think is interesting as you have seen a great affection for you grew up but I think of it is a really interesting how much of that provincial town mentality that suburban mentality you've kept with you as you go to New York because the England that made you was a place that had to be quite amazing Music I am wonder to what extent you feel like it's of an outsider still in Manhattan where you live now.
You know everything comes full circle and then I went back I work for a local rock club because everybody for my school did and they put on the greatest bands of all time.
I mean I saw everybody between 76 and 81 everybody that I could have possibly hope to see if I got the most incredible free education much better than probably the old levels and A Levels I sat and and you know that.
With me and Anne died few weeks ago few months ago.
I went back and help them.
They're statue of David Bowie in my hometown, which was obviously easyHotel, Aylesbury which is like life imitating art imitating life that means surreal who would have known that that would happen and an dinner.
I'd taken up with me and I'm very grateful for that educational I happen to live in a town.
That was only 30000 people but had someone who put on The Ramones to class the Talking Heads blondie Tom Petty you know David Bowie whoever.
I'm out for my house.
So so I mean you know that that upbringing just happened to be by geography hugely cultural and they still come back for Luton Town fixtures which I think is mildly admirable that might be less cold and hot rod stringer.
It's really good sweetie.
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