Last month, BMG boss Hartwig Masuch told MBW of his ambition to expand his company’s remit into the live music space.
“If you’re in [the live] business, you have the best data regarding who’s actually the biggest fans of your act – it’s the person that bought the tickets for $100, rather than the person with a $9.99 Spotify subscription,” he explained.
Today (October 21), Masuch’s ambition has become reality: BMG has just announced that it is entering the live music business for the first time.
To fuel its new live music strategy, BMG – which turned over $308m in the first six months of 2020 – has signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake in independent German live music promotion company and event agency Undercover GmbH.
The acquisition, for an undisclosed fee, is expected to close at the end of October.
Undercover will subsequently form the basis for the development and establishment of a new live music and event business unit within BMG in Germany.
The live firm’s founder and CEO, Michael Schacke, and his team of 30 will remain on board.
Braunschweig-based Undercover, founded in 1991, is one of the most successful promoters in northern Germany, handling over 200 concerts and shows held per year (that’s in a non-pandemic year, obviously).
Undercover also develops and produces its own formats and acts as an agent, brokering tours and festivals of national and international artists throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
BMG says that the move adds “integrated tour promotion and ticketing” to the menu of services that it can offer artists, in addition to releasing records and publishing songs.
Earlier this year, BMG added another service to this list with the launch of its Neighbouring Rights division, while last year it expanded into artist management via a partnership with veteran industry figure Carl Stubner.
Like publishing and records, BMG says that its live music services “will remain strictly opt-in” for artists – leaving those acts free to strike deals with other concert promoters if they so prefer.
“Moving into live is the logical extension of BMG’s plan to integrate all the services an artist could need under one roof.”
Dominique Casimir, BMG
Dominique Casimir, BMG, EVP Repertoire & Marketing Continental Europe, said, “Moving into live is the logical extension of BMG’s plan to integrate all the services an artist could need under one roof, with the artist brand at the center of it all. Crucially, we have found in Michael Schacke and his team a partner who shares our values.”
Undercover CEO Michael Schacke said: “I founded this company in 1991 to be able to perform with my band and that’s how I became a promoter. This idea has since grown into a nationwide concert agency with over 30 employees.
“Discussions about a partnership with BMG commenced long before the coronavirus pandemic, but we are now perfectly set up for when the market returns. There is a significant opportunity for us working together to offer a genuine alternative for artists in Germany and beyond, building on Undercover’s established recipe of ‘live entertainment and artist partnership’.“
“There is a significant opportunity for us working together to offer a genuine alternative for artists in Germany and beyond, building on Undercover’s established recipe of ‘live entertainment and artist partnership’.”
Michael Schacke, Undercover
Maximillian Kolb, BMG, Managing Director GSA, said, “Artists want partners who build their business around them rather than the other way around. Above all, this means offering the best possible service. The German music market has proven to be extremely adaptable and is one of the strongest in the world, especially in the live segment. I am very happy that we have become the first territory within BMG to be able to offer a complete service portfolio to artists including live.”
The new business unit will also collaborate with other content divisions of BMG shareholder Bertelsmann in Germany including broadcaster RTL, book publisher Penguin Random House and magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr under the banner of the Bertelsmann Content Alliance.
Dominique Casimir, who is also a board member of the Bertelsmann Content Alliance said, “An important part of our job will be, together with the Undercover team, to form a center of excellence for events within the Content Alliance. We look forward to working with the other divisions and together adding even more value to our artists and media brands by creating bespoke live experiences.”Music Business Worldwide