BMG Rights Management

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]

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 and Lenny Kravitz.[17][18]

BMG Rights Management GmbH
private company (GmbH)
Industrymusic industry
PredecessorsBMG / Sony BMG
FoundedOctober 2008 in Berlin, Germany
Number of locations
12 countries (2018)
Area served
Key people
  • Hartwig Masuch (CEO)
  • Maximilian Dressendörfer (CFO)
  • Ama Walton (CHRO)
  • Ben Katovsky (COO)
Servicesmusic rights management
RevenueIncrease 545 million (2018)
Increase €122 million (2018)
Number of employees
834 (2018)
Footnotes / references
Distributed by Warner Music, ADA, Sony Music, PIAS Group, Good2Go, Universal Music, INgrooves, Demon Music Group and others.


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]

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]

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 Lehmann 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]

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 Berlin-Mitte
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 of the same technology platform. This integrated structure together with its avowed aim to integrate all its offices internationally through a matrix management structure is designed to maximize efficiency.[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, Bebe Rexha, Bruno Mars, Iggy Pop, Bibi Bourelly, Jean Michel Jarre, Jess Glynne, David Bowie, Bring Me the Horizon, 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, 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), 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 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, 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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External links

Alone (The Pretenders album)

Alone is the tenth studio album by English-American rock band The Pretenders. The album was released on October 21, 2016, by BMG Rights Management.Chrissie Hynde is the only member of the band to appear on the album, with the backing band consisting of session musicians. The album is the band's second consecutive album not to include drummer Martin Chambers.

Alternative Distribution Alliance

Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) is a music distribution company owned by Warner Music Group, which represents the rights to various independent record labels. ADA prides itself in providing "independent artist and label partners with access to the resources, relationships & experience required to share their creative vision with a global audience."As the independent music distribution arm of Warner Music Group, ADA Worldwide was created in 1993 to offer a distribution system and marketing, merchandising, promotion, and music licensing services.

In 2012, Warner Music Group combined Independent Label Group with ADA to create a full-service company that provides services including physical and digital global distribution, physical production, merchandise production and distribution. ADA offers account management, an in-house music licensing function, custom products and services, marketing and sponsorships, as well as digital marketing tools.

In March 2017, ADA announced that it would distribute the catalogs of most of the labels owned by BMG Rights Management worldwide.

Bertelsmann Music Group

Bertelsmann Music Group (abbreviated as BMG) 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 (since August 2004) the 50% share of the joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment, which established the German American Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Sony BMG) from 2004 to 2008.

Broken Bow Records

BBR Music Group is an American independent record label based in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in July 1999 by Benny Brown, the label specializes in country music. The label's EVP is Jon Loba.

Craig Morgan produced the first number-one single for the label with his 2005 hit "That's What I Love About Sunday". Jason Aldean has produced the most number-one hits on the label, with twenty-one in total.

In 2009, Broken Bow Records launched a sister label, Stoney Creek Records. In August 2015, Broken Bow launched another imprint label, Wheelhouse Records, with Trace Adkins and Granger Smith the first artists signed to it.BBR Music Group was acquired by BMG Rights Management in February 2017.

CMC International

CMC International was an American independent record label founded by Tom Lipsky in 1991, focused mainly on classic rock, and classic heavy metal. The label was the haven of many hard rock, arena rock, glam metal and AOR artists in the period when all the majors were investing all their financial efforts on grunge and alternative rock acts. In 1995 CMC started a partnership with BMG Entertainment, which in 1999 owned the majority of the company, with founder Tom Lipsky holding a minority stake.

CMC International became a division of Sanctuary Records Group in 2000, with Lipsky becoming president of Sanctuary Records North America. After Universal Music Group acquired Sanctuary in 2007, CMC International ceased to exist. However, due to conditions imposed by the European Commission following UMG's 2012 acquisition of EMI, it sold Sanctuary to BMG Rights Management in 2013 for over €46 million ($71.875 million). Since then, Sanctuary has been distributed globally by Warner Music Group through its ADA division.Tom Lipsky is currently working as president of Roadrunner Records' Loud & Proud division, managing classic rock bands and artists.

Castle Communications

Castle Communications, also known as Castle Music, was a British independent record label and British home video distributor founded in 1983 by Terry Shand, Cliff Dane, and Jon Beecher. Its video imprint was called Castle Vision. The label's production ceased in 2007, and its remaining rights are now chiefly vested in BMG Rights Management. Castle also operated a subsidiary label, Essential Records.

Dreyfus Records

Dreyfus Records is a record label which released the work of artists such as Jean-Michel Jarre who was part of the label for more than 20 years.

Francis Dreyfus founded Disque Dreyfus in 1985. The label was a part of the Dreyfus family company owned by Dreyfus Records, French music distributor. On January 4, 2013 the company ceased its operations and its catalog was absorbed by BMG Rights Management Group.Dreyfus Jazz was founded in 1991 in Paris as a division of the Francis Dreyfus Music company to reissue albums by Charlie Haden, Eddy Louiss, Red Mitchell, Michel Portal, Bud Powell, John Lewis, and Martial Solal. In 1992 Dreyfus produced new recordings by Philip Catherine, Richard Galliano, Steve Grossman, Roy Haynes, Didier Lockwood, the Mingus Big Band, and Michel Petrucciani. There were also albums of unreleased music by Bill Evans, Stan Getz, and Art Pepper.

Go-Feet Records

Go-Feet Records was an English record label founded by, and predominantly used to release recordings by, the ska revival band the Beat (known as the English Beat in North America). The band had some chart success in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. The label also released a few recordings by other bands. The Beat's first release was on 2 Tone Records, but when Madness struck a deal with Stiff Records, the Beat left to form their own label. Go-Feet now operates under BMG Rights Management.

The label was distributed over the years by labels such as Arista, London, EMI, Edsel and finally, BMG Rights Management.

Liberation Music

Liberation Music is an Australian record company and label, started in 1999 by Michael Gudinski and Warren Costello, based in Melbourne. Its stated aim is to find, nurture and then to develop new talent for a world market while remaining independent in the process.

Liberation has a sub-label called Liberator Music, which is a distributor for foreign artists and labels such as Childish Gambino, Glassnote Records, BMG Rights Management, and Ipecac Recordings.

Make Love (Faith Evans song)

"Make Love" is the second single by American R&B singer Faith Evans, featuring R&B singer Keke Wyatt, from Evans' sixth studio album, Incomparable (2014). The song was released on June 9, 2015 through Prolific Music and BMG Rights Management. The song was written by Faith Evans, Lamar Edwards, Michael Ray Cox, Jr., John Wesley Groover, Ketara Wyatt, Toni Coleman, Corey Marks and produced by Lamar "Mars" Edwards, The Futuristiks and Faith Evans.

The song marks as their second collaboration "Lovin' Me" (R&B Divas Theme) (2012).

Modular Recordings

Modular Recordings (known simply as Modular) is an Australian record label founded in 1998 by Steve Pavlovic that is currently owned by Universal Music Australia. It has released music from local artists such as Eskimo Joe, Ben Lee, The Avalanches, Wolfmother, Cut Copy, The Bumblebeez, Bag Raiders, Van She, Rocket Science, Ghostwood, The Presets, Pond, and Tame Impala, and local releases of international artists including Dom, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Chromeo, Colder, Klaxons (The EP Xan Valleys), Ladyhawke, NYPC, MSTRKRFT, and Softlightes.

After its establishment, the label was first recognised by the successful releases of The Living End's eponymous debut album and Ben Lee's Breathing Tornados, with the former becoming the highest-selling rock debut, and the latter being nominated for the ARIA Award for Album of the Year. It then grew during the early 2000s, defining itself through its assortment of parties, artists, and the "electronic, rock-leaning dance music" that became known as the "Modular sound". However, in 2015, a lawsuit filed by BMG Rights Management pitied the label against UMA, with UMA originally winning in July against owner Pavlovic, but the courts overturned the decision in October towards Pavlovic's favor. Thereafter, Pavlovic resigned in March 2016, leaving the label under renovations.

Noise Records

Noise Records is a German heavy metal record label founded in 1983 by German music industry personality Karl-Ulrich Walterbach as an expansion of his company Modern Music Records. It was sold to the Sanctuary Records Group in 2001 and ceased any activity in 2007 due to the bankruptcy of Sanctuary. The Noise catalogue was consequently acquired by Universal Music Group later on. In April 2016, BMG Rights Management, which had acquired Sanctuary Records in 2013, announced that it would revive the Noise Records label.

RBC Records

RBC Records is an online independent record label and management company founded by partners Brian Shafton and Bob Grossi. It provides artists and independent labels with a full-service "virtual label" alternative to signing with a major label. RBC provides distribution, sales, marketing, online publicity, radio promotion, video promotion, product management, and creative services consulting to artists and management. The company announced in 2013 that it would start producing and distributing films under the name RBC Films.

In September 2018, BMG Rights Management acquired RBC for an undisclosed fee.

Sanctuary Records

Sanctuary Records Group Limited is a record label based in the United Kingdom and a subsidiary of BMG Rights Management. Until June 2007, it was the largest independent record label in the UK and the largest independent music management company in the world. It was also the world's largest independent owners of music intellectual property rights, with over 160,000 songs.

Skint Records

Skint Records is a Brighton based dance music record label owned by JC Reid, Tim Jeffery and Damian Harris. It was created as a sublabel of Loaded Records, also founded by Reid and Jeffery. Along with Wall of Sound, the label was a leader in the big beat music scene of the mid to late 1990s.The label's roster at this time included big beat scene leaders Fatboy Slim, Hardknox, Indian Ropeman, Freq Nasty and X-Press 2. Towards the end of the 1990s and at the start of the 21st century the label expanded its range of releases to include more house based songs. The most prominent example was "Lazy" by X-Press 2, which charted at number 2 in the UK charts. There were also releases by electronic music artist Dave Clarke as well as artists as diverse as Lucky Jim, Freq Nasty, FC Kahuna, Bentley Rhythm Ace, REQ and Ralfe Band. One mainstay band of the label has been the Lo-Fidelity Allstars who have changed and diversified their style along with the label.

Skint were the main kit sponsor for Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. for nine years until the relationship ended in 2008, one of the longest football league sponsorship deals. The Skint name does not appear consistently across all the Brighton and Hove shirts, with some variation in logo and even the complete replacement of the company's name with Palookaville on one of the shirt designs.

One of Skint's first recognisable tracks that became looked at as one of the pioneering songs of Dubstep was the UK garage duo Double 99's RIP Groove, released in 2001.

Skint also have a sub-label for more underground releases called "Under 5's", which originally ran from 1997–2001, but was re-launched as a digital only label in 2009 to host new artists such as Linton Brown, Kinzy and Rory Hoy.

In 2002, Skint released a compilation album, We Are Skint, featuring tracks from the label's artists. From 1996-1998, Skint released a series of albums, Brassic Beats, also containing songs from the label, but all of the songs were new, therefore not being a compilation album series.

Skint Records had one UK number one album, Fatboy Slim's You've Come a Long Way, Baby (1998), and also brought about short-lived "intelligent big beat" pioneered by albums such as REQ's One and Lo-Fidelity Allstars' How to Operate with a Blown Mind.

In April 2014 BMG Rights Management acquired Skint records.

Before the BMG acquisition, Skint Records was distributed by Sony Music Entertainment internationally.

Sony BMG

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.

V2 Records

V2 Records (or V2 Music) (V2 it's an abbreviation for Virgin 2) is a record label that was purchased by Universal Music Group in 2007 and sold to [PIAS] in 2013.Moby's American catalogue is now controlled by his own record label, Little Idiot (with distribution held by Fontana Distribution and Because Music), meanwhile, the international rights belong to BMG Rights Management.

Vagrant Records

Vagrant Records is an American record label based in California. It was founded in 1995 by Rich Egan and Jon Cohen. The label focuses on rock, but features artists in a variety of other genres including folk, soul, electronic, and pop. It is home to artists such as The 1975, Death Spells, Eels, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, CRUISR, Active Child, PJ Harvey, School of Seven Bells, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, James Vincent McMorrow, Black Joe Lewis, Wake Owl, Blitzen Trapper, and Bombay Bicycle Club. Originally, Vagrant Records was mostly focused on emo bands such as Dashboard Confessional, Saves the Day, The Get Up Kids, Senses Fail, and Alkaline Trio.

In 2014, Vagrant was acquired by BMG Rights Management. Co-founder Jon Cohen then became BMG's executive vice president of recorded music, until he left the company in September 2017.

West End Records

West End Records is an American music record label based in New York City. Led by co-founder Mel Cheren, West End was one of the most prominent labels in dance music's history, along with Prelude Records, Salsoul Records, and Casablanca Records. West End Records helped introduce the 12-inch single, the vinyl format popularized by disco music in the 1970s and promoted the nascent garage house music pioneered by DJ Larry Levan in Paradise Garage. West End Records was acquired by Verse music group in 2010. On June 29, 2015, Verse Music was acquired by BMG Rights Management.

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