Frank Briegmann at Universal Inside 2019: ‘We want the entire ecosystem of the music industry to grow with us’

Frank Briegmann, President & CEO, Universal Music Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon has said that he “wants the entire ecosystem of the music industry to grow with” the company, as he shared headline figures from a successful year for UMG in Germany during a keynote speech in Berlin today (September 4).

Briegmann was addressing Universal artists, staff, partners and media at The Verti Music Hall in Berlin for the company’s annual conference, Universal Inside 2019.

One of the headline stats shared by Briegmann was that Universal artists generated a total of 19.5 billion streams in the first eight months of 2019 in Germany, an increase of more than 42%.

Briegmann also spoke of how Germany’s biggest streaming artist in 2018, hip-hop star Capital Bra, who Universal signed in January, has set a new all-time record, having achieved more No.1 hits in Germany than any other artist.

With more than 1.9 billion streams in Germany, Capital Bra has also held on to his title as the most streamed artist in the country.

One of the most intriguing stats from the day was that Universal generated around €6 million from sales of premium boxsets across just three artists in the country.

According to Briegmann, the company sold more than 100,000 boxes of KC Rebell, Capital Bra and LX & Maxwell, each priced at more than €60.

“Our success in the physical segment is especially evident when we take a look at our environment,” said Briegmann.

“While the market for physical products has dropped around 11% (even though that is already significantly better than predicted), us at Universal Music were able to even grow 2.7% – bucking the trend and against all external expectations.”

“Due to digitalization, the market entrance threshold is lower than ever.”

Frank Briegmann

The Universal Germany boss also took the opportunity to praise artists signed from outside of Germany that have broken globally, such as Scottish star Lewis Capaldi, Meduza (456 million streams) and R3HAB (156 million streams).

Said Briegmann: “The first and most important reason: there are no borders for music and artists – even if Mr. Trump and Mr. Johnson do not understand this.

“Our artists can be successful everywhere. We see more and more domestic acts, which have the makings of an international commercialization.

“Due to digitalization, the market entrance threshold is lower than ever. We create a concrete chance for our artists from a theoretical possibility.”

You can read an abridged version of Briegmann’s (translated) keynote speech in below:


I am very delighted to welcome you all to Universal Inside 2019. We will see great artists again today, get to know a lot about what will move us and the fans in the upcoming months and of course get to meet many exciting newcomers again! The Verti Music Hall, in which we currently are, is sort of a newcomer as well. It will celebrate its one-year anniversary next month. 

The Verti Music hall is not just a spectacular new location. It’s first and foremost a signal. There are investments in music… in the live business and especially at Universal Music: The content of our artists amazes fans and makes investors dream. We invest financially of course, but even more important: our time and our enthusiasm. We do this with and for our artists and of course together with you, dear partners.

And the outcome of this investment has been looking, since we have met a year ago, very pleasant.

Not just the world market – such as the U.S. (11.9%), Brazil (+154%), South Korea (+17,9%) and also Austria (+20.0%) – but also the German market has grown. The world market has accelerated its growth from the previous year and the German music market has gained speed after a lateral movement in the preceding year with a plus of 8.4% for the first 7 months.

Streaming makes for twice as much revenue than CDs in the first half of the year and is and stays thereby driver of growth No.1. The streaming segment has grown about 28%. 

Concerning streaming, we are delighted that our artists have generated altogether 19.5 billion streams in the first 8 months in Germany, which is a plus of more than 42%.

Capital Bra has set a new all-time record. No artist has more No.1 hits in Germany than him. And with more than 1.9 billion plays in Germany he also has more streams than any other artist on top of that.

The German rapper Juju feat. Henning May has turned in the all-time most streamed song by a female artist in Germany with her current hit “Vermissen”. This too is a record with currently 92 million streams. On top of that she is about to go platinum!

Shawn Mendes, who occupied No.1 of the charts for six weeks.

Billie Eilish with most streamed album in week one of a newcomer ever.

Simultaneously, CDs account for almost 30% of the revenue still. The revenues of physical formats are also still a strong pillar of the music market and thereby automatically also of its growth.

In all of Germany and regarding the entire market still 113.00 physical sound carriers are sold – per day mind you.

Rammstein’s current album sold physically 50% more than the last studio album in its first chart week and already reached ¾ of the amount of its predecessor after 3 months. (Which needed 10 years for that).

At the last Universal Inside Herbert Grönemeyer has exclusively given a preview a few pieces from his album Tumult for us, which was then released in November. Now we are at 3x gold with this album and no other artist, no other band has been at No.1 of the official German album charts more often. 

In the Domestic Urban segment, we have sold more than 100k boxes of KC Rebell, Capital Bra and LX & Maxwell to fans and this at prices of partially more than €60.

The physical sale business is still strong and also the segment of outstanding special editions, which cause a must-have feeling for collectors and fans, is growing. Our success confirms our strategy: In the first half of the year our physical catalogue business has grown for all trade partners on average 60% (existing catalogue and catalogue releases of Universal Music only and physical shipments to retail).

Our success in the physical segment is especially evident when we take a look at our environment. While the market for physical products has dropped around 11% (even though that is already significantly better than predicted), us at Universal Music were able to even grow +2,7% – bucking the trend and against all external expectations.

And 2019 is already a very successful year up to this point for Universal Music also.

Our chart market share YTD 2019 has been larger than that of all other labels combined for singles as well as albums. We are experiencing together with our artists a tremendous popularity. 

Also, regarding the albums, these are results with which others have become chancellor.

As a result, this success also means that we have not only taken market shares from competitors, but also that we are making a crucial contribution to the strong overall growth of the market.

Remarkable by the way: This result is explicitly not just due to the big main releases such as Rammstein, Herbert Grönemeyer or Sarah Connor, but also due to a pleasantly large number of very successful artists (yet) below the superstar- threshold and an at least as pleasant number of promising newcomers and breakthrough artists.

Particularly to break young artists, we need to communicate [in a] very targeted [way]. For even beyond our streaming channels [a lot]  is happening. Streaming is also not a one-way street.

From one channel often multi-channel strategies develop. The best example: ,, Ich find Schlager toll” (“I think Schlager is great”). A project which represents very confidently one of the still most popular genres in Germany. We have started the brand as a YouTube channel with by now more than 30 million views per month. Now this brand is, next to physical products, also commercialized live as an event for the first time.

Our unit Marketing Labs, which has presented itself here last year and is now perfectly connected all over the house, has been instrumental in doing all this. ,,Ich find Schlager toll” is just one example for their successful work and shows very practically how the most diverse areas at Universal Music intertwine perfectly and past department or genre borders are immaterial.

We are of course glad about these many hip-hop successes in streaming. But, to say this again, completely unambiguously: We at Universal Music own a broad label basis, have experts in practical all relevant genres at our disposal. We want to offer the consumers a broad and diverse choice of products.

Whether streaming or physical, whether hip-hop, rock, pop, or classical… for all of them applies: There are no unimportant areas for us – if we do something, we take it seriously.  Who believes the music market is a solo performance of formats, genres or fashions, is mistaken.

In which areas do we see the most potential for our business? These are still: connected cars, smart home, audiovisual content, voice recognition and mobile phone penetration in general, which are commercialized across evermore platforms and become increasingly popular.

Growth, at that, does not only mean to use the national but also the international potential for our artists and us.

Why does the international commercialization continue to gain more importance for us? Two reasons:

  1. The first and most important reason: there are no borders for music and artists – even if Mister Trump and Mister Johnson do not understand this. Our artists can be successful everywhere. We see more and more domestic acts, which have the makings of an international commercialization. Due to the digitalization the market entrance threshold is lower than ever. We create a concrete chance for our artists from a theoretical possibility. 
  2. Secondly: Our growing expertise is not unrecognized. More and more international artists decide to sign with us. Latest example of success: Lewis Capaldi with his all-time entry record in the UK. Or Meduza (456 million streams) and R3HAB (156 million streams), to name just a very few.

We establish a business model, which has been custom at Deutsche Grammophon for way more than 100 years. In classical music, the biggest international stars have been relying on our know how and our experience for worldwide marketing since the year one.

Every [record company boss] is only as good as their team and in our case additionally: as our wonderful artists. And therefore it was always important to me that the whole entity in Berlin and Munich participates in my European perspective. I firmly believe that the creative and administrative cooperation across country borders as well as the reinforcement of all channels of distribution can only help us on.

We want our artists to be successful and their fans to be happy. We want a fair competition within the music industry and fair (legal) conditions for the cooperation with our partners. We want the entire ecosystem of the music industry to grow with us and for all of us to achieve more together.Music Business Worldwide

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