Sony 'wouldn't rule out launching Spotify rival'

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

image copyrightGetty Images/PA
image captionStringer said Spotify had "built a robust and futuristic distribution model"

The head of Sony Music has said the company would not rule out launching a rival streaming service to Spotify.

"We have hundreds of thousands of tracks going back 100 years, so we have quite a lot of leverage," Rob Stringer told BBC Radio 4.

"Do we want to take all our stuff off a major streaming platform? No... because we have an arrangement that's working for both of us at the moment.

"But the next chapter, which might be in five years, who knows?"

Stringer took over as CEO of Sony in April 2017 and has seen the company's revenues jump by 12% to top $4bn (£3.07bn).

That followed Sony acquiring the stake in a music publishing venture previously held by Michael Jackson's estate, giving it ownership of more than two million classic songs.

These include tracks by Queen, Carole King and the Motown catalogue, along with contemporary hits by Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Drake and Pink.

Speaking to Radio 4's Media Show, Stringer suggested Sony could withhold some of those songs from streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music if they started to encroach on the company's business by signing and developing their own artists.

"Could they do that? Probably. Would we have way of dealing with that? Probably," he told the BBC's Amol Rajan.

Yet he went on to express the opinion that Spotify did not "want to be funding the entire artist development process."

Stringer also said he was more focused on developing the next innovations in delivering music than he was in competing directly with Spotify.

"From our point of view, it's all about timing," he said. "Maybe we will do something that will give us more control over distribution.

"But you can't argue that in this particular chapter, Spotify [are] leading the way. They built a robust and futuristic distribution model."

Back in 2010, Sony launched a music and video download service intended to challenge Apple's iTunes.

Five years later it closed its Music Unlimited service to launch PlayStation Music in conjunction with Spotify.

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