BMG acquires UK catalogue specialist Union Square Music

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BMG has added to its recent string of recordings acquisitions by swooping for leading UK record company Union Square Music and its sister music publishing companies Union Square Music Publishing and USM Songs.

Union Square releases around 150 artist and compilation albums each year. Based on year-to-date album sales compiled by the Official Charts Company, the acquisition of Union Square will double BMG’s sales of recordings in the UK and propel BMG to become the UK’s fifth biggest record company in terms of combined artist and compilation album sales.

BMG already has a catalogue of around 300,000 recordings including Sanctuary Records, Mute Records, Strictly Rhythm and Skint/Loaded catalogues, and artists such as The Kinks, Black Sabbath, Jean-Michel Jarre, Depeche Mode and Fatboy Slim. Combining music publishing and recording rights, BMG now represents around two million copyrights in total.

Founded in 1999 by seasoned record executive Peter Stack, Union Square owns or exclusively licenses rights to artists including Madness, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Sandie Shaw, Nazareth, Marmalade and Procol Harum.

It also represents labels such as ZTT (Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art Of Noise & Propaganda), Stiff (Tenpole Tudor, Jona Lewie, Tracey Ullman), Peer Music (The Flowerpot Men, First Class), Cuban state-owned label Egrem (Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez and Compay Segundo) and be-bop label Savoy Jazz.

Union Square’s music publishing interests include the Nazareth catalogue, Russ Ballard (‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, ‘So You Win Again’), Charles Mingus, Swing Out Sister’s Corinne Drewery and Andy Connell (‘Breakout’), The Farm (‘All Together Now’) and songs from Syd Barrett, Nick Lowe, Hawkwind, The Damned, Captain Sensible and Eddie & The Hot Rods.

USM Songs also represents the Plangent Visions Music catalogue worldwide including The Specials/The Specials AKA (‘Ghost Town’, ‘Free Nelson Mandela’) and hits such as ‘Over My Shoulder’ (recorded by Mike & The Mechanics).

Following the acquisition, Union Square founder Peter Stack will continue to run the business from the company’s West London base reporting through BMG’s UK operation, BMG Chrysalis UK.

BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said, “This acquisition marks another significant milestone in BMG’s development as we seek to achieve similar scale in the recordings business as we already have in music publishing. Peter Stack and the Union Square team have established an unrivalled reputation in the music industry for their respectful, artist-friendly approach to catalogue marketing and as such are a perfect fit with BMG. We look forward to working with Peter to create an even more significant catalogue business based on delivering value for artists and rights-owners.”

Peter Stack said, “The combination of our expertise in marketing and exploitation and BMG’s significant catalogues is a win-win deal for BMG, Union Square and all of our artists and licensors. BMG have clearly demonstrated their ambition to grow their recordings business and the addition of their infrastructure and international network will allow us to offer an even better service to artists and labels.”

Alexi Cory-Smith, EVP BMG Chrysalis UK, said, “The addition of Union Square means UK will now be home to the vast majority of BMG’s worldwide catalogue recordings business. We look forward to welcoming the Union Square team into our UK operation and giving them the tools to build on their outstanding track record of success.”Music Business Worldwide

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