BERLIN — German media giant Bertelsmann has launched a music rights division following the recent sale of its 50% stake in Sony BMG to Sony Corp.
Initially encompassing a selection of European music catalogs retained from the former Sony BMG venture, BMG Rights Management said it was launching with a strong market position from the outset.
Headquartered in Berlin, the company will start off with a catalog that includes more than 200 artists while setting out to rapidly expand its rights portfolio to include other artists from Europe and beyond.
Current artists include German rock and pop acts such as the Scorpions, Nena, Die Prinzen and 2raumwohnung.
BMG Rights Management is positioning itself as a modern service provider for artists and plans to offer custom-tailored services for songwriters and performers seeking support in the creation, marketing and licensing, collection and accounting as well as advance financing of their repertoire.
Bertelsmann said the new business reflects a trend in the music industry toward autonomous, service-oriented artists.
“We are focusing precisely on that area of the music industry that promises growth,” said Hartwig Masuch, chief exec of BMG Rights Management, at a presentation of the company Tuesday in Berlin.
“Music is being used more intensively and exploited more comprehensively than ever before — beyond the traditional distribution of recorded music: on a growing number of online and mobile platforms, in productions of movies, TV programs and commercials, on radio and TV broadcast, in concerts and in videogames. Today, a music writer or performer can derive significantly more income from the rights to his work than before. This is where we want to position ourselves with customized, flexible services as well as transparent accounting.”
In addition to covering a broad spectrum of services for its artists, the company said it would also “provide appropriate advance financing during the rights-building process.”
Masuch said the company would not only offer artists and writers autonomy and guidance in an increasingly fragmented market but also a share of the income that is in most cases higher than what they would get elsewhere.
“We want our partners to be more involved in a meaningful use of the budgets and hence in efficient, cost-conscious processes.” He said. “This includes giving them more say in the choice of marketing paths. We want to create a significant added value for authors, artists and other rights owners based on deeply responsible partnerships with our clients.”
Touting parent group Bertelsmann as a company that “represents financial soundness and capacity to invest,” BMG Rights Management stressed its direct link to other subsidiaries that could offer relevant partnerships, such as RTL Group, whose production and broadcasting biz makes it one of the foremost owners and users of music rights in Europe.
“In five years’ time, BMG Rights Management will have become established as one of the first ports of call for artists in Europe who want to ensure competent, transparent, comprehensive and efficient management of their rights,” Masuch said.
Masuch, who served as managing director of BMG Music Publishing from 1991-2007, said the new firm would make its full market entry next year, adding that the company is laying its organizational and legal groundwork and still putting together staff.