X5 Music Group

Last updated
X5 Music Group
Parent company Warner Music Group
Founded2003 (2003), Stockholm, Sweden
FounderJohan Lagerlöf
Daniel Bäckström
Stefan Enberg
Distributor(s) Warner Music Sweden
GenreVarious (classical, jazz, blues, folk, rock, pop)
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Empire State Building, New York City, United States
Official website X5MusicGroup.com

X5 Music Group is a record label based in Stockholm, Sweden with a branch in Manhattan, New York. Founded in 2003, it is a digital-only label that primarily licenses pre-existing music for compilation albums. X5 originally focused on classical music, and in 2011 its custom album The Greatest Video Game Music , featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra, debuted at #23 on the Billboard 200. Since 2009 the company has had 24 albums on the chart; all 24 were custom digital releases produced by the label. [1]


They have a partnership with Universal Music Group called U5, which releases approximately 50 digital compilation albums per month. [2] In 2013 X5 was named one of the Red Herring "Top 100 Most Innovative Companies in Europe. [3]

In June 2016, X5 was acquired by Warner Music Group. [4]


Founding, business model

X5 Music Group was founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 2003 [5] by Johan Lagerlöf, Daniel Bäckström, and Stefan Enberg. [1] All three founders had pre-existing connections in the music industry. CEO Lagerlöf, for example, had previously co-founded companies such as Mobilehits, Scandinavia's most popular music site, and was also a songwriter/producer for Stockholm Records. [1]

X5 was created with the mutual vision of being digital-only. [6] Classical music was chosen as a focus; many classical compositions are in the public domain. [7] They also gained access to the catalogs of about 50 other companies, mostly independent classical labels in Europe, and repacked them into what The Wall Street Journal called "like classical mix-tapes." [8]

X5's producers partly focus on sales data to determine what should go into compilations, paying mind to keywords and SEO. [8] The New York Times stated "To attract classical neophytes, X5’s collections have search-engine-friendly titles and simple, self-explanatory cover art." [6] Accordingly, compilations often have titles such as The Most Essential Classical Music for Your Baby and Classical Music for Hipsters. [9] On May 26, 2008, X5 released The 50 Most Essential Pieces of Classical Music. [10] The album cost about $150 to compile, and by April 2013 had brought in $3.4 million in revenue. [6]

The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music

The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music compilation includes selections performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of David Parry, with soloists such as pianist Finghin Collins. [11] According to Allmusic, "While the term 'greatest' may be debatable in the instance of some of the pieces, 'popular' is a description that's easier to support, for there's no denying the staying power of these pieces." [11]

It was #1 on iTunes' Classical Albums chart for over a year, [1] and remained in the iTunes Classical Top 10 for over three years, selling more than 200,000 copies. [9]


X5 expanded into the United States in 2009, [12] setting up an office in the Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York. Former Amazon and eMusic music executive Scott Ambrose Reilly was hired as North American CEO. [13] Noelle Bell was also hired as an account manager. [14]

X5 continued to expand its catalog of compilations, and in 2010 had 13 titles on the Billboard Year End Top 50, tying for the top spot with Universal Music Group. [1] [8] In August 2011 The 99 Most Essential Chopin Masterpieces was ranked No. 1 on Amazon MP3's classical best-sellers chart. The compilation stayed among the chart's top 100 for 20 months. [8]

In 2011 X5 was the No. 2 classical music label on the US charts, second only to Universal. [9]

Also in 2011 the label began branching into genres such as folk, bluegrass, [8] blues, and jazz. [7] They began forming partnerships with non-classical labels such as Sun Records, whose back catalog included artists such as Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. [7]

The Greatest Video Game Music

In November 2011 X5 released one of its most successful albums, The Greatest Video Game Music, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and produced by Andrew Skeet. [10] The twenty-one track set [15] features classical orchestrations of video game themes such as Super Mario Bros. , Call of Duty , Final Fantasy , World of Warcraft, and Angry Birds . [16] It debuted at #23 on the Billboard 200 - the highest debut for an orchestral release since 2005's Star Wars Episode III soundtrack. [16] It received praise from IGN [15] and was named "weirdest hit album" of 2011 by Rolling Stone . A sequel was released in October 2012. [16]

Classify app

In early 2012 X5 launched Classify, an app created through a partnership with Spotify that helps music browsers discover classical music. [7] The software was downloaded 500,000 times in the first month, [7] and X5 released statistics saying Classify brought sales of The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music up by 50%, helping it to top the iTunes classical chart. [17] In May 2013, X5 announced Spotify apps for world music, blues, and jazz to be released in August. [6] In March 2015, Spotify discontinued support for apps in their players, including Classify.

U5 partnership

“A few years ago we were flipping through the charts and we said, ‘My God, who are these guys?’ What they’re doing is disruptive, so we decided to partner with them and innovate rather than fight them.”
— Ross Foster, Universal’s VP of commercial affairs [6]

In its early years X5 drew mainly from the catalogs of independent classical labels. In its first year of operations in the United States they licensed labels such as Cooking Vinyl, Alligator Records, and the Welk Music Group, also commissioning its own recordings. [10] X5 announced in April 2013 that it had started U5, a joint venture with the music conglomerate Universal Music Group. It gave X5 access to over 50,000 of Universal’s classical tracks, and another 50,000 jazz and blues songs. [6]

U5 produces digital compilation albums, curating and releasing more than 50 per month. [2] The first slate of releases included expansions to the 50 Greatest series, adding The 50 Greatest Violin Pieces by Joshua Bell, The 50 Greatest Piano Pieces by Lang Lang and The 50 Greatest Performances of Classical Music. [2] Later releases focused on jazz and blues, including artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk. [12]

X5 also partners with Universal Music on the Spinnup distribution platform for unsigned artists. [18]

Recent years

In April 2013 The New York Times stated that "X5’s techniques are now widely imitated, and its profit margins are the envy of any record label." At that time the company had sold over 230 million downloads internationally, [6] and was putting out several thousand albums a year. [13] As of summer 2013, X5 had a catalog of 8,000 albums, with about 50% of those being titles custom produced by the company. [1] From 2009 to 2013 X5 had 24 albums on the Billboard 200; all 24 were custom digital releases produced by X5. [1]

X5 was named one of the Red Herring "Top 100 Most Innovative Companies in Europe" in 2013. [3]

Label partners

The following is a list of labels and licensing companies that have partnerships with X5 Music Group: [19]

Selected discography

Cat. #ArtistTitleNotesYear
London Philharmonic Orchestra/David Parry The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music #1 for 3 weeks on Classical Albums Chart 2009
X5CD101 Carola Häggkvist Elvis, Barbra & jag #1 on charts in Sweden [20] 2011
VariousThe 99 Most Essential Chopin Masterpieces#1 on Amazon MP3's Classical Best-sellers [8] 2011
Jo Stafford 'A' You're Adorable #1 on charts in Sweden [21] 2011
X5CD114 London Philharmonic Orchestra The Greatest Video Game Music #23 debut on Billboard 200 [16]
#1 on iTunes' Classical Albums chart for 1+ year [1]
X5CD118 London Philharmonic Orchestra The Greatest Video Game Music II 2012
Bond Play #94 on the ARIA Charts 2012
Darin Zanyar "Nobody Knows"#1 on Swedish DigiListan Chart [22] 2013
Darin Zanyar So Yours #32 on Belgium Ultratip 100 Chart [23] 2013
Orphei Drängar, Myrra Malmberg The Greatest Video Game Music III : Choral edition 2016

See also

Related Research Articles

Columbia Records American record label currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment

Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded on January 15, 1889, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.

Universal Music Group American music corporation

Universal Music Group is an American global music corporation that is majority owned by the French media conglomerate Vivendi, with Chinese tech company Tencent owning a minority stake. UMG's global corporate headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California. The biggest music company in the world, it is one of the "Big Three" record labels, along with Sony Music and Warner Music Group. Ten percent of Universal Music Group was acquired by Tencent in March 2020 for US$3 billion.

Mercury Records Record label

Mercury Records was an American record label that had significant success as an independent operation in the 1940s and 1950s and that later became owned by Philips, PolyGram, and Universal Music Group. In the US, it operated through Island Records; in the UK, it was distributed by EMI Records.

A greatest hits album or best-ofalbum is a type of compilation album that collects popular and commercially successful songs by a particular artist or band. While greatest hits albums are typically supported by the artist, they can also be created by record companies without express approval from the original artist as a means to generate sales. They are typically regarded as a good starting point for new fans of an artist, but are sometimes criticized by long-time fans as not inclusive enough or necessary at all.

Uptown Records

Uptown Records was an American record label, based in New York City, founded in 1986 by onetime rapper Andre Harrell. From the late 1980s into the early 1990s, it was a leader in R&B and hip hop. During the 1990s, aided by its A&R worker Sean Combs, it led the fusion of these two genres. Its artists included Al B. Sure!, Christopher Williams, Guy, Heavy D & The Boyz, Father MC, Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Notorious B.I.G., and Soul for Real.

The music of the video game Final Fantasy X was composed by regular series composer Nobuo Uematsu, along with Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano. It was the first title in the main Final Fantasy series in which Uematsu was not the sole composer. The Final Fantasy X Original Soundtrack was released on four Compact Discs in 2001 by DigiCube, and was re-released in 2004 by Square Enix. Prior to the album's North American release, a reduced version entitled Final Fantasy X Original Soundtrack was released on a single disk by Tokyopop in 2002. An EP entitled feel/Go dream: Yuna & Tidus containing additional singles not present in the game was released by DigiCube in 2001. Piano Collections Final Fantasy X, a collection of piano arrangements of the original soundtracks by Masashi Hamauzu and performed by Aki Kuroda, was released by DigiCube in 2002 and re-released by Square EA in 2004. A collection of vocal arrangements of pieces from the game arranged by Katsumi Suyama along with radio drama tracks was released as Final Fantasy X Vocal Collection in 2002 by DigiCube.

Mike Batt

Michael Philip Batt, LVO is an English singer-songwriter, musician, arranger, record producer, director, conductor and former Deputy Chairman of the British Phonographic Industry. Having achieved substantial international success as a solo artist he is particularly known in the UK for creating The Wombles pop act, writing many hits including the chart-topping "Bright Eyes", and discovering Katie Melua. He has also conducted many of the world's great orchestras, including the London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony and Stuttgart Philharmonic in both classical and pop recordings and performances.

Demon Music Group (DMG) is a record company owned by BBC Studios, which is mainly concerned with 'back catalogue' rights and re-issuing recordings as compilations on physical media via supermarkets and specialist stores.

Blackground Records

Blackground Records was an American record label founded and owned by Jomo and Barry Hankerson. Initially named Blackground Enterprises, the label switched its name to Blackground Entertainment and later Blackground Records in 2000. It co-operated with a publishing company founded by Hankerson, named Black Fountain Music.

K-tel Canadian international budget record label

K-tel International is a company which formerly specialized in selling consumer products through infomercials and live demonstration. Its products include compilation music albums, including The Super Hits series, The Dynamic Hits series and The Number One Hits series and consumer products, including the Record Selector, the Veg-O-Matic, the Miracle Brush, and the Feather Touch Knife. The company has sold more than half a billion units worldwide.

Big Machine Records American record label

Big Machine Records is an American independent record label, which is distributed by Universal Music Group and specializes in country and pop artists. Big Machine is based on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee. The label was founded in September 2005 by former DreamWorks Records executive Scott Borchetta and became a joint venture between Borchetta and country singer Toby Keith. The company concentrates on publishing, management, and merchandising and oversees imprints, such as Valory Music, that are part of the Big Machine Label Group.

X Japan discography

The discography of the Japanese heavy metal band X Japan consists of 5 studio albums, 6 live albums, 1 remix album, 11 compilations, 1 soundtrack album, 23 singles, and around 22 live video recordings.

AnyDecentMusic? Website collating music album reviews from magazines, websites, and newspapers

AnyDecentMusic? is a website that collates album reviews from magazines, websites, and newspaper. It includes music albums, covering rock, pop, electronic, dance, folk, country, roots, hip-hop, R&B, and rap. Reviews are sourced from more than 50 websites, magazines and newspapers, largely from the US and UK, but also from Canada, Ireland and Australia.

<i>The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music</i> 2009 studio album by the London Philharmonic Orchestra

The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music is a selection of classical works recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor David Parry. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, Royal Festival Hall and Henry Wood Hall in London, the album was released in digital formats in November, 2009 and as a 4-CD set in 2011. The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music has sold over 200,000 copies and spent over three years as one of the top 10 classical albums on iTunes.

"Quiero Bailar" is a song by Puerto Rican reggaetón recording artist Ivy Queen, from the platinum edition of her third studio album, Diva (2003). It was composed by Queen alongside her then-husband Gran Omar, produced by Iván Joy and released as the lead single from the album in 2004. Lyrically, "the song talks about a guy expecting sex after a dance like it was a bad thing."


Spinnup is a digital music distribution service owned by Universal Music Group. It was founded in 2013 in Sweden. Spinnup is a signed distribution platform that offers an aggregator service to musicians and artist who are not signed to major labels so they can distribute their music worldwide via online retailers such as Deezer, Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Tidal, Napster, Amazon Music and Google Play.

Scott Ambrose Reilly

Scott Ambrose Reilly is a music executive whose expertise is in the digital music field. Since 2000, Reilly has held senior positions in digital music companies such as Digital Club Network, eMusic and Amazon. He is currently CEO of X5 Music Group. When Reilly exited Amazon's music division for its Kindle unit, his farewell letter to peers was leaked to the media and widely circulated for criticism of many in the established music industry.

A compilation album comprises tracks, which may be previously released or unreleased, usually from several separate recordings by either one or several performers. If by one artist, then generally the tracks were not originally intended for release together as a single work, but may be collected together as a greatest hits album or box set. If from several performers, there may be a theme, topic, time period, or genre which links the tracks, or they may have been intended for release as a single work—such as a tribute album. When the tracks are by the same recording artist, the album may be referred to as a retrospective album or an anthology.

<i>Best Of</i> (50 Cent album) 2017 greatest hits album by 50 Cent

Best Of is the first greatest hits album by American hip hop recording artist 50 Cent. It was released on March 31, 2017, by Shady Records, Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records. The compilation includes tracks from five of his previous studio albums: Power of the Dollar (2000), Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003), The Massacre (2005), Curtis (2007) and Before I Self Destruct (2009). Also included are songs from the soundtrack to the film Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2005). It also includes the non-album singles "Get Up" and "I Get It In". Best Of anthologizes the majority of the singles that 50 Cent released during his joint deals with Eminem's Shady, Dr. Dre's Aftermath, and major-label Interscope. This is the first Shady Records album that does not feature Eminem on a song.

D-Metal Stars is a band spun off of the successful Animetal USA project originally launched in Japan. The band covers heavy metal versions of popular Disney songs on Walt Disney Records.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "X5 Music Group Company Overview". Shore Fire Media . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  2. 1 2 3 "Universal Music Group and X5 Music Group Form Unique Joint Venture, U5". Universal Music Group. April 18, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  3. 1 2 "2013 Red Herring Europe Finalists". Red Herring: The Business of Technology. April 15, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  4. "Warner Music Group acquires Swedish playlisting firm X5 Music". Music Business Worldwide. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  5. Barth, Chris (October 25, 2011). "How Tiny X5 Music Group Is Slaying Label Goliaths On The Billboard Charts". Forbes . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Sisario, Ben (April 17, 2013). "A Label Finds 99 Ways to Make Classical Profitable". The New York Times . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Talty, John (July 30, 2012). "X5 Music Group Relies on SEO Tricks, But Inching Closer to Legitimacy". International Business Times . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Smith, Ethan (August 31, 2011). "The Internet's $10 Million Mix Tapes". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  9. 1 2 3 Collins, Jennifer (February 23, 2012). "Searching search engines for the sound of music". Marketplace . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  10. 1 2 3 Christman, Ed (August 7, 2012). "X5 Signs Up Alligator, Highway 87, Nacional, Six Degrees Records". Billboard . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  11. 1 2 Sanderson, Blair (November 23, 2009). "The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music". Allmusic . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  12. 1 2 "Universal Music, X5 Music Bring Together Blue Note Records and Verve Catalogs For First Time". X5 Music. July 25, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  13. 1 2 Flamm, Matthew (May 8, 2013). "Dining on music with Scott Ambrose Reilly". Crain's New York Business . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  14. "X5 Music Group Announces New Hire Noelle Bell, Digital Music Veteran". Shorefire Media. February 10, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  15. 1 2 Grischow, Chad (November 7, 2011). "London Philharmonic Orchestra: The Greatest Video Game Music Review". IGN . Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  16. 1 2 3 4 "Nintendo, Sega Go Orchestral With 'Greatest Video Game Music II". X5 Music Group. October 22, 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  17. "X5 Music Group says Spotify app boosted album downloads". MusicAlly. April 26, 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  18. "Universal-backed digital distribution and A&R platform Spinnup launches in the UK". Complete Music Update. 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2015-09-22.
  19. "Partners". X5 Music Group. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  20. Listplacering (läst 2 april 2011)
  21. Hung, Steffen. "swedishcharts.com - Swedish Charts Portal". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  22. Nobody Knows at no. 1 in Sweden.
  23. So Yours chart position in Belgium (Flanders).