British music industry executive, record producer, philanthropist and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Rob Stringer has been speaking out, identifying seismic shifts that are shaking the music industry. His boldest quote of late would be that the “British musicians have never had it so tough”.
“The last great British alternative rock band was the Arctic Monkeys and that was 16 years ago” Stringer told The Times. “Music has moved on and I’m not sure Gen Z looks at music the same way we did growing up”. It is due to the mass streaming and platforms offering different types of music which make it so hard for British artists to break through. “It’s tougher because music is coming from everywhere now”.
While some may find this intimidating, a modern British artist may find it exciting. There now exist more opportunities for up and coming British artists to incorporate musical elements from their heritage – which may explain the rise in afrobeat, reggaeton and even bhangra/garage fusion movements on the rise in the UK’s music scene as well as in the charts.
Stringer continued to say that he couldn’t imagine doing A&R meetings with Korea until it very recently became a necessity. “Pop culture is in the bloodstream of Britain and I’m proud of that. Do I think the UK can be competitive? Absolutely, but it’s tougher.”
While he considers himself “someone who works for icons”, Stringer is quite the legendary name himself. Having worked for Sony since 1985 – then only a graduate from Goldsmith’s college – Stringer got the top job of CEO in 2017. Sony Music’s profits have soared in recent years under the CEO despite A&R undergoing drastic changes and having to keep up with modern marketing. Today, A&Rs trawl through TikTok, YouTube and Spotify and few deals are made without extensive data analysis.
“The way we find talent has changed a lot. The 80s and 90s saw much more gut feeling. We took chances on complete unknown artists who turned out to be huge, but today that special feeling backed up by data is a great combo.