Categories: News

Former Sony Music staffer criticises Rob Stringer’s Royal award

Published by
Lars Brandle

Sony Music Group CEO Rob Stringer’s Royal nod is facing criticism from a former company employee.

The New York-based Sony Music chairman was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, in recognition for services to U.K. creative industries, to social justice and to charity.

According to a statement issued by the U.K. government, Stringer is feted for “an exceptional and sustained contribution to the British music business as well as charity causes and tackling discrimination.”

The 59-year-old British-born executive is also honoured for leading initiatives to tackle racism and social injustice with a £75 million Sony Music fund, which is said to have “directly benefitted U.K. charities working to foster equal rights and help address structural inequality,” and is “recognised as an industry leading model.”

It was Stringer who dismissed long-standing Sony Music Australasia Chairman and CEO Denis Handlin in June 2021 in the wake of allegations on a toxic environment at the company Handlin led.

The scandal surrounding Handlin’s company blew up in the national media and saw the one-time captain of industry stripped of several medals.

The timing of Stringer’s own award has raised eyebrows in Australia’s music business.

Tamara Mary, a former Sony Music employee tweeted: “I stand with all #SonySurvivors who are yet to receive any form of accountability from this major corporation and its executive team. Disgraceful.”

Last year, Mary featured on 4Corners, the 7am Podcast, Marie Claire and The Project to discuss those claims of bullying, discrimination and misconduct within Sony Music’s Australian workplace.

Also, industry figure Leanne de Souza responded on social media, “LOL ‘service to social justice’ and £75m of artists money.”

Handlin abruptly exited Sony Music on June 21, 2021 as the longest serving employee globally, having spent more than 51 years with the company, including 37 years as leader of the domestic affiliate.

Stringer alerted staff to the development by way of an international memo, TIO reported at the time.

“It is time for a change in leadership,” Stringer wrote in the statement. “And I will be making further announcements in terms of the new direction of our business in Australia and New Zealand in due course.”

Those announcements on the leadership of the Sydney-based company have yet to be made.

Stringer is one of 122 people awarded for their service to the U.K. overseas or internationally, a list that includes Elton John’s longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, who’s tapped for a CBE for his “exceptional services to music.”

Lars Brandle

Lars Brandle has reported at the frontline of the international music industry for almost 20 years. A former musician, Lars joined the American music trade “bible” Billboard in 2000 and went on to serve as Global News Editor, based in London. Now Billboard’s Australia correspondent and senior writer with The Industry Observer, Lars’ voice has been heard on CNN, the BBC and ABC, American Public Media's Marketplace and South Africa's EastCoast Radio, and he has spoken at Midem in Cannes, Music Matters in Singapore, Amsterdam Dance Event, London's City Showcase and at industry gatherings on both sides of the Tasman. His works have been published by Reuters, Media Week, Spin, and The Hollywood Reporter, and he has featured as a pundit in the Australian Financial Review, Business Review Weekly and Britain’s The Independent.

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