British music is losing its market power in the USA. Does BMG have the answer?

The stats don’t lie: the power of British music in the United States is on the wane.

According to Nielsen/Billboard stats analysed by London-based market body BPI, music from UK artists claimed 7.6% of all on-demand audio and video streams in the US last year.

The same artists claimed 9.0% of all format ‘consumption’ in the States – a calculation taking in physical and digital purchases, as well as streaming, converted into ‘album equivalent’ metrics.

Those numbers were down, both in streaming terms and ‘consumption’ terms, on 2017 (streaming: 7.9%; consumption: 9.2%) and 2016 (streaming: 8.4%; consumption: 10.0%) alike.

In terms of 2019’s new big-hitting artists in the States, the British record industry’s contribution is being kept alive by Lewis Capaldi (pictured) – the Scottish troubadour who has seen his smash single, Someone You Loved, streamed more than a billion times worldwide.

Today (September 16) Capaldi’s publisher, BMG, announced a new initiative which it hopes will specifically boost the fortunes of British artists and songwriters in America.



BMG has appointed seasoned music biz exec Ian Ramage to head a new ‘strike force’ for UK repertoire in the US, in what the firm calls a “first for the UK music industry”.

With staff in London, New York, and LA, this ‘strike force’ will, says BMG, “explicitly address the emerging gap for UK artists in music’s biggest market in the switch to streaming consumption”.

The new team is endorsed by Berlin-based BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch – who even suggests that large record companies with US-based HQs may be a factor in the declining market performance of British acts.

“The problem for UK artists is that US-based companies naturally tend to favor their local repertoire,” he said. “Our view is that UK artists and songwriters deserve better than that. We need to ensure we maximize their success in the US.”

According to BMG, its new team will focus particularly on performer-songwriters, and won’t be limited to new acts. BMG says “the [strike force] will include artists across the generations from the Sixties until today”.

“The problem for UK artists is that US-based companies naturally tend to favor their local repertoire. Our view is that UK artists and songwriters deserve better than that.”

Hartwig Masuch, BMG

As Vice President Repertoire & Marketing UK, Ramage will report to BMG President Repertoire & Marketing UK Alistair Norbury.

Speaking to MBW earlier today, Norbury said: “The whole point of this is to enhance all aspects of [our] songwriters’ and artists’ careers, making sure everyone is connected [in that objective].

“One of the hardest challenges [for UK artists] at the moment is that all the labels – majors, BMG, the indie sector – are releasing a lot of repertoire worldwide, and that’s in addition to independently-led or DIY artists. This team are going to make sure there’s visibility for all of our Anglo repertoire going into the US.”

He added: “Even a small increase in [BMG-signed UK artist/songwriter performance in the States] is going to be significant. The US is the biggest market in the world, and we’ve got terrific recorded music and publishing teams out there, but this is an additional layer to make sure managers [of British artists] have someone specific to call in London, New York and LA, and to make sure we can grow these numbers.”

“we’ve got terrific recorded music and publishing teams in the US, but this is an additional layer to make sure managers [of British acts] have someone specifically to call in London, New York and LA, and to make sure we can grow these numbers.”

Alistair Norbury, BMG

Norbury called the ‘strike force’ a “distinctive service which cuts across the traditional dividing lines of music publishing and recordings, which plays to our strength as the only fully-integrated international music company”.

Ian Ramage boasts more than 30 years experience in the UK music industry working with artists including The Cure, Elvis Costello, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Coldplay, Keane, and Richard Hawley.

Beginning as a product manager at Polydor, he became marketing manager at East West/Warner Records before returning to Polydor as Head of Marketing and joining EMI Records as Marketing Director in 1993.

In 1996 he switched to music publishing, becoming General Manager at the old BMG Music Publishing where he stayed for almost a decade until the company was sold to Universal. After spending two years as Head of A&R UK & Europe for Sony/ATV Publishing, he switched to academia as a lecturer on the music business.

While completing a dissertation on The Beatles, he has worked as a part-time consultant to BMG in the UK.Music Business Worldwide

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