BMG Rights Management

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BMG Rights Management GmbH
private company (GmbH)
Industry music industry
Predecessors BMG
Sony BMG
FoundedOctober 2008;10 years ago (2008-10) in Berlin, Germany
Number of locations
12 countries (2018)
Area served
Key people
  • David Gould (CEO)
  • Maximilian Dressendörfer (CFO)
  • Ama Walton (CHRO)
  • Ben Katovsky (COO)
Services music rights management
RevenueIncrease2.svg 545 million (2018)
Increase2.svg €122 million (2018)
Number of employees
834 (2018)
Parent Bertelsmann
Footnotes /references
Distributed by Warner Music, ADA, Sony Music, RED Distribution, PIAS Group, Good2Go, Universal Music, INgrooves, Demon Music Group, Rough Trade and others.

BMG Rights Management (BMG) is an international music company based in Berlin, Germany. [1] It combines the activities of a music publisher and a record label. [2] [3]

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

In the music industry, a music publisher is responsible for ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. Through an agreement called a publishing contract, a songwriter or composer "assigns" the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company licenses compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects royalties and distributes them to the composers. They also secure commissions for music and promote existing compositions to recording artists, film and television.


BMG was founded in October 2008 after Bertelsmann sold its stake in Sony BMG. [4] From 2009 to 2013, the investment firm KKR held 51% of the company, which became one of the world's largest music publishers during that time. [5] [6] BMG is 100% owned by Bertelsmann and one of the group's eight business divisions. [7] The portfolio includes rights in songs and recordings by artists such as Kylie Minogue, [8] Avril Lavigne, [9] The Rolling Stones, [10] Jason Aldean, [11] David Bowie, [12] Chrissie Hynde, [13] Nena, [14] Roger Waters, [15] Iggy Pop, [16] Quincy Jones, Lenny Kravitz and Morrissey. [17] [18]

Bertelsmann multinational media, services and education company

Bertelsmann is a German multinational corporation based in Gütersloh, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is one of the world's largest mass media companies and also active in the service sector and education. Bertelsmann was founded as a publishing house by Carl Bertelsmann in 1835. After World War II, Bertelsmann, under the leadership of Reinhard Mohn, went from being a medium-sized enterprise to a major conglomerate, offering not only books but also television, radio, music, magazines and business services. Bertelsmann is an unlisted and capital market-oriented company, which remains primarily controlled by the Mohn family. Since 2016, major divisions of Bertelsmann are RTL Group, Penguin Random House, Gruner + Jahr, BMG, Arvato, Bertelsmann Printing Group, Bertelsmann Education Group and Bertelsmann Investments.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment was an American record company owned as a 50–50 joint venture between Sony Corporation of America and Bertelsmann Music Group. The venture's successor, the revived Sony Music Entertainment, is wholly owned by Sony, following their buyout of the remaining 50% held by Bertelsmann AG. BMG was instead rebuilt as BMG Rights Management on the basis of 200 remaining artists.

KKR & Co. Inc. is a global investment firm that manages multiple alternative asset classes, including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate, credit, and, through its strategic partners, hedge funds. The firm has completed more than 280 private equity investments in portfolio companies with approximately $545 billion of total enterprise value as of June 30, 2017. As of September 30, 2017, Assets Under Management (“AUM”) and Fee Paying Assets Under Management (“FPAUM”) were $153 billion and $114 billion, respectively.


Music at Bertelsmann

In the 1950s, Bertelsmann entered the music business when it added music to its book club. [19] Ariola, a record label, was launched and Sonopress, a pressing plant, was established. [20] [21] In 1975, Ariola opened an office in the United States. [22] Bertelsmann acquired Arista Records in 1979 and RCA Records in 1985, thereby becoming one of the world's largest music companies. [23] Its various subsidiaries were brought together in 1987 to form Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), which did business in a number of genres, including folk, pop and, in particular, classical music. [24]

Ariola Records German record label

Ariola Records is a German record label. In the late 1980s, it was a subsidiary label of Bertelsmann Music Group, which in turn has become a part of the international media conglomerate Sony Music.

Arista Records, Inc. is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of the Japanese conglomerate Sony. The label was previously handled by Bertelsmann Music Group. The label was founded in 1974 by Clive Davis, who formerly worked for Columbia Records. Until its demise in 2011, it was a major distributor and promoter of albums throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. Along with Columbia, RCA, and Epic, Arista is one of Sony Music Entertainment's four flagship record labels.

Bertelsmann Music Group Record label company

Bertelsmann Music Group was a division of German media company Bertelsmann before its completion of sale of the majority of its assets to Japan's Sony Corporation of America on 1 October 2008. Although it was established in 1987, the music company was formed as RCA/Ariola International in 1984 as a joint venture to combine the music label activities of RCA Corporation's RCA Records division and Bertelsmann's Ariola Records and its associated labels which include Arista Records. It consisted of the BMG Music Publishing company, the world's third largest music publisher and the world's largest independent music publisher, and the 50% share of the joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment, which established the German American Sony BMG Music Entertainment from 2004 to 2008.

In response to declining sales in the overall music market, Bertelsmann agreed to merge its record label interests with Sony in 2003; the company was called Sony BMG. [25] [26] Furthermore, in 2006, Bertelsmann sold its subsidiary BMG Music Publishing to Vivendi. [27] [28] Having reached the conclusion that established music publishing companies and record labels were not appropriate for an increasingly digital music business, Bertelsmann sold its stake in the Sony BMG joint venture in 2008. [29] The company was subsequently renamed Sony Music Entertainment. [30]

Vivendi French media company

Vivendi SA is a French mass media conglomerate headquartered in Paris. The company has activities in music, television, film, video games, book publishing, telecommunications, tickets and video hosting service.

Launch of the new BMG

Bertelsmann launched the new BMG in October 2008 with a small portfolio of recorded music rights of around 200 artists it retained from Sony BMG. [2] [31] It announced it would pursue a business model focused on fairness, service and transparency. [3] [32]

The launch of the new BMG came amidst the 2008 financial crisis within two weeks of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. [33] [34] Since Bertelsmann could not supply the required funds on its own, a 51% stake was sold to financial investor Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) in 2009. [35] [36] [37] Bertelsmann retained 49% and the right to appoint the company's management. [38] The transaction allowed BMG to increase its equity ratio. [36]

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. was a global financial services firm. Before filing for bankruptcy in 2008, Lehman was the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States, doing business in investment banking, equity and fixed-income sales and trading, research, investment management, private equity, and private banking. Lehman was operational for 158 years from its founding in 1850 until 2008.

International expansion

Initially, Bertelsmann had announced that the new BMG would focus on the European broadcast market. After KKR became the majority shareholder, the company set its sights on expanding internationally. [39] [40] A key step towards achieving this goal was acquiring Cherry Lane Music Publishing in 2009, which provided BMG with its first foothold in the United States. [41] [42] [43] [44] BMG made several other purchases in 2010, including Evergreen Copyright Acquisitions. [45] [46]

In 2011, Bug Music was bought by BMG, [47] followed by music publisher R2M Music in 2012. [48] Bertelsmann was also reported to be interested in buying EMI, [49] but EMI was ultimately acquired by Universal Music Group (record labels) and Sony/ATV Music Publishing (songwriters). [50] [51] The regulatory authorities approved the deal subject to some conditions, including the sale of several labels. [52] BMG was thus able to acquire Mute Records (2012) and Sanctuary Records (2013), [53] [54] as well as the publishing catalogues of EMI Virgin Music and Famous Music UK from Sony/ATV. [55]

Becoming a group division

In 2013, KKR sold its stake in BMG to Bertelsmann, [56] making it the sole shareholder of the company. [57] Under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rabe, [58] [59] who had been a key driver of BMG's expansion during his time as Chief Financial Officer, [41] Bertelsmann named music as one of its strategic growth areas, again. [60]

In 2013, the company began to represent rights to songs by Robbie Williams and the Rolling Stones. [61] [62] Record labels were also added to the portfolio including Union Square Music (distributor of Universal Music's ZTT Records and Stiff Records), [63] Vagrant Music and Infectious Music (2014), [64] [65] as well as S-Curve Records [66] and Rise Records (2015). [67] Other acquisitions followed in 2016, including the label ARC Music and the catalog of The End Records. [68] [69] By acquiring Basement, BMG entered the market in Brazil, [70] one of Bertelsmann's growth regions. [71] [72] The company also signed an agreement with Warner Music's Alternative Distribution Alliance for the physical and digital distribution of music, [73] allowing BMG to consolidate its longstanding sales structures. [74] BMG further expanded by entering the Chinese market in cooperation with Alibaba, allowing the online company to distribute the work of musicians and composers via its web channels while securing copyrights. [75]

In the 2015 financial year, BMG was part of the Corporate Investments division at Bertelsmann. [76] In 2016, the media group turned the subsidiary into a stand-alone division. [7] Today, BMG is considered a prime example of how growth platforms are created and leveraged at Bertelsmann. [77] [78]

Acquisition of BBR Music

In 2017, BMG announced the purchase of BBR Music Group, [79] including the labels Broken Bow Records, Red Bow Records, Stoney Creek Records, Wheelhouse Records and the music publisher Magic Mustang Music. [11] With a value of more than 100 million dollars, the transaction was the largest recorded music acquisition in the company's history. [80] BMG thus improved its position in the country music segment and ensured its long-term presence in the Nashville music industry and its overall impact on the United States market. [11]

Corporate structure

Quartier 205 in Berlin Mitte, where the headquarters of BMG are located (2018) Quartier 205 Berlin-Mitte.jpg
Quartier 205 in Berlin Mitte, where the headquarters of BMG are located (2018)

BMG's parent enterprise is BMG Rights Management GmbH, a limited liability company according to German law. The company's objective is "the marketing of music, as well as its development and delivery" for use in media, at concerts and for other purposes. [81] BMG has numerous subsidiaries and shareholdings, for example, BMG Rights Management (Europe) GmbH. [82] In addition to Germany, BMG is present in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, the Benelux countries, the United States, Canada, and Scandinavia. [83]

BMG's senior management includes Hartwig Masuch (Chief Executive Officer), [84] [85] Maximilian Dressendörfer (Chief Financial Officer), [1] Ama Walton (General Counsel and Chief Human Resources Officer) and Ben Katovsky (Chief Operating Officer). [86] Masuch has been a member of Bertelsmann's Group Management Committee since 2013. [87]

In the 2018 financial year, BMG posted revenues of €545 million. Rights and licenses accounted for 91.1% and products and merchandise 8,9%. Almost half of its revenues (44.1%) were generated in the United States. Other important markets were the United Kingdom (24.7%), Germany (6.3%) and France (3.9%). [88]

Business model

BMG offers musicians the services generally provided by music publishers and record labels. [2] Unlike its major competitors, it runs them under the same roof and on the same technology platform. [89] [90] [91] More recently, it has also added film, television, and books to its roster of services. [31] [92]


BMG publishing represents the rights of songwriters like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Kylie Minogue, Ringo Starr, Nena, Roger Waters, Alice Merton, Billy Idol, Cat Stevens, Poo Bear, Aphex Twin, Storm Gordon, Bebe Rexha, Bruno Mars, Iggy Pop, Bibi Bourelly, Jean Michel Jarre, Jess Glynne, David Bowie, Gary Numan, Death Cab for Cutie, Kings of Leon, Bring Me the Horizon, Blondie, George Ezra, Johnny Cash, Robbie Williams, Tame Impala and many more. [93]

In addition, BMG owns the publishing catalogues of Chrysalis Music, Virgin, R2M Music, Talpa Music, Union Square Music, Cherry Lane Music, Francis Dreyfus Music, Alberts, Adage IV, Bug Music, Hornall Brothers Music Ltd.and Primary Wave. [93]


BMG has a significant library of production music (library music), for use in films, television, advertising, and other media. These catalogues include including MusicDirector (part of Talpa Music), Human Music, Music Beyond, X-Ray Dog, Beds & Beats, Immediate Music, [94] AXS Music, [95] Altitude Music, and Must Save Jane. [96]

BMG also has output deals with several production studios, including The Asylum, Turner Broadcasting, Fremantle, Amblin Partners, The Pokémon Company , and Netflix.


BMG recording artists include Taylor Swift, 311, Dido, Kylie Minogue, Jason Aldean, A Perfect Circle, Lenny Kravitz, Max Giesinger, blink-182, Blondie, Fergie, Avril Lavigne, Good Charlotte, Cypress Hill, Roger Waters, Bryan Ferry, Richard Ashcroft, Fatboy Slim, Sugar Ray, Marianne Faithfull, The Kinks, Morrissey, Ry X, Nakhane, Adel Tawil, Scorpions, KitschKrieg, and The Prodigy. [97]

BMG owns the catalogues of several record labels, including Rise Records, Mute Records, Trojan Records, Vagrant Records, Union Square Music, Verse Music Group, Sanctuary Records, S-Curve Records, Skint Records, The Echo Label, Infectious, and the BBR Music Group. [97]



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