Over the weekend, the New Year’s Honours list came out. To those of you from outside the UK, honours are handed out by The Queen twice each year in recognition of various achievements or contributions to life. I understand similar versions of the honours take place in some Commonwealth countries, although I can’t profess to be an expert on such things.
One of the names in it was Robert Adrian Stringer, who usually just calls himself Rob Stringer. He’s the boss in charge of Sony Music – he’s on the left on the above picture, just after Spotify CEO Daniel Ek – and he’s been made a Commander of the British Empire, or CBE for short. He was given the gong for services to the UK creative industries, and also for his charity work.
In June 2020, Sony Music unveiled a $100million fund to support social justice and anti-racism initivatives. And he’s a music industry man to the core, having started out at CBS Records – ironically enough now owned by Sony – all the way back in 1985 and spent time at Epic and Columbia Records before taking charge of Sony Music Entertainment back in 2017.
Whilst I certainly have my issues with the ways which major labels operate, I don’t have any particular problem with him receiving an award. But what I wouldn’t have given to be a fly on the wall when Universal Music Group boss Lucian Grainge – he who had to survive on a modest £150million income last year – found out the news.
He might be forgiven – at least this time – for feeling a little bit smug with himself. He received the same CBE honour in 2010 for services to the creative industries, and was given a knighthood in 2016. Perhaps he just thought to himself “what kept you, Rob?”.
Unfortunately though for the two men, this is about as nice as the British establishment is likely to be to them for a while. Whilst the threat of an anti-competition inquiry looms, anyway…