Adele Label’s Chief to Succeed Morris as CEO of Sony Music

  • Columbia boss Rob Stringer to take over Sony Music in April
  • Leadership change coincides with recovery in industry sales

Sony Music Entertainment promoted Rob Stringer to chief executive officer, replacing music Doug Morris, who is giving up his operational role and will become chairman.

Stringer, 54, is currently chairman and CEO of Sony’s Columbia Records label, whose artists include Adele and Beyonce, according to a company statement Tuesday. He will report to Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment. The appointments are effective in April.

Under Stringer, the younger brother of former Sony CEO Howard Stringer, Columbia has become the leading label by market share, according to the company. Adele’s 25 was the best-selling album of 2015, while both Adele and Beyonce rank in the top five for 2016, according Sony.

The new CEO is taking over as the music industry recovers from almost two decades of decline, the result of online piracy and the collapse of album sales as singles became available for purchase on the web. Thanks to the growing popularity of online streaming, music revenue in the U.S. is poised to expand for a second straight year in 2016 -- the first time that’s happened since CD sales peaked in 1998 and 1999.

The shift to streaming has challenged labels’ relationships with artists by giving musicians more control over where and how their music is played. Beyonce initially released her latest album exclusively on Tidal, the streaming service controlled by her husband Jay Z, while Adele withheld her album from such services at first.

Six-Year Run

With the change, Morris, 77, will end a six-year run as CEO of Sony’s music operation, a division of Tokyo-based Sony Corp. One of the most prominent executives in the music business, Morris previously ran Universal Music Group for 16 years. Recorded music generated sales of almost $4 billion in Sony’s last fiscal year.

Stringer’s “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,” Lynton said in a statement.

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