BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch: ‘We’ve created a sustainable film business at the fraction of the cost of acquisition.’

BMG boss Hartwig Masuch has spoken of the company’s commitment to the world of music video content, following a key deal for its new Joan Jett documentary.

That documentary, Bad Reputation, has been snapped up by distributor Magnolia for North American rights – including its cinematic release – following a premiere at the influential Sundance Film Festival in January.

The agreement is made all the more interesting by the fact that BMG was widely understood to have been outbid by Universal Music Group for  UK-based Eagle Rock Entertainment four years ago.

UMG reportedly paid $50m for Eagle Rock, a creator and distributor of music programming which had worked on documentary and/or concert movies covering The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, Queen, The Doors and many more.

After missing out on the deal, BMG regrouped and built out an organic audio/visual business unit, which Masuch says is now reaping benefits.

“We see film and TV programming as a significant value-add for our clients,” Masuch told MBW. “Music fans’s appetite for audiovisual programming is greater than ever before and at the same time we have seen an explosion of new outlets.”

He added: “In the heyday of MTV, video was a marketing cost invariably paid for by the artist. In the new visual age of music, developing an audiovisual presence and video programming is an increasingly important income stream.”

“we have created a sustainable business at the fraction of the cost of acquisition.”

Hartwig Masuch, BMG

When pressed on rumours of BMG’s attempt to buy out Eagle Rock, Masuch added:  “We originally planned to enter this market by acquisition, but when that didn’t work out, we simply rolled our sleeves up and proceeded to build a business from scratch.”

BMG’s first foray into audio/visual was its creation of the series Berlin Live, a live concert TV series in association with pan-European broadcaster arte with shows featuring the likes of Leftfield, The Damned, Katie Melua, Kaiser Chiefs, Blondie and Morrissey.

Forthcoming programmes will feature Mike + The Mechanics, Fritz Kalkbrenner and Simple Minds.

In the US, BMG has partnered with renowned producer Joe Thomas, who revived the Soundstage concert series on PBS, and has delivered  shows with the likes of  Kenny Loggins, Tom Jones, Regina Spector, Bad Company, Stevie Nicks and Chicago.

In addition, BMG has also gradually been building up a slate of original documentary and scripted programming – leading off with ‘Bad Reputation’.

“To now have our very first film accepted for Sundance and then taken up by Magnolia for North American rights looks like a vindication of our approach,” said Masuch.

“It has certainly taken more time, but we have created a sustainable business at the fraction of the cost of acquisition.

“We are beginning to build a pipeline of documentaries and digital formats and you can expect BMG to release at least three further film programs during 2018.”

 Music Business Worldwide

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