Sony launches Robots + Humans label/publishing partnership with Rob Ronaldson, signs Powfu

Rob Ronaldson

Music and technology entrepreneur Rob Ronaldson is teaming up with Sony Music UK and Sony/ATV on a new data-driven venture.

Robots + Humans will focus on “identifying and cultivating new artists using cutting edge A&R insights”. Ronaldson (pictured) already has a strong track record in that area: his existing relationship with Sony has already helped spawn hits from the likes of Regard (Ministry Of Sound), Young T & Bugsey (Black Butter), Sam Fischer (RCA) and Koffee (Columbia).

R+H’s first addition to its UK label roster is Powfu, whose hit Death Bed (feat. Beabadoobee) has been a TikTok viral sensation and racked up over one billion global streams. The company’s publishing line-up, part of a new creative partnership with Sony/ATV, includes Nashi who produced StaySolidRocky's Party Girl. Ronaldson worked in partnership with Columbia Records in the US on both Powfu and Nashi.

“I never thought my love of data could be applied to the processes of finding new talent within the music industry,” said Ronaldson. “We hope that our technology can help R+H keep growing into something exciting, innovative and genuinely competitive over the next few years.” 

“Our experience is that discovery is only the first step and it’s about what happens next that makes the difference,” added Jason Iley, chairman and CEO of Sony Music UK & Ireland, who picked up an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours last week. “Rob has quickly established an impressive track record across genres by working in partnership with Sony Music labels. Robots + Humans gives us more scope to develop new artists using cutting-edge techniques and I’m excited to see what Rob can do next.”

Sony Music acquired Ronaldson’s company RE Labs in October 2019 in order to “provide A&R teams across Sony Music with greater levels of insight for finding and developing fresh talent”. Ronaldson founded RE Labs in 2016 alongside Joel Leslie, using machine learning techniques to develop a range of insights around up-and-coming artists.

Dennis Kooker, Sony Music Entertainment’s president of global digital business & US sales, said: “Rob Ronaldson is a forward-looking talent developer with a passion for finding great artistry. We look forward to working with him to support artist discovery, A&R and career growth using powerful data insights.” 

Sony/ATV UK’s David Ventura (president & co–MD) and Tim Major (co–MD) said: “Rob embodies the new generation of talented and entrepreneurial A&R. His approach is so pioneering that it was a no-brainer to partner with him and we are delighted to be launching this venture together.” 

* Sony/ATV won Publisher Of The Year at the 2020 Music Week Awards. To read our interview with Ventura and Major, click here. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, sign up to our digital edition here.

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