MBW is used to writing about digital distributors getting acquired. We’re not used to them getting acquired by Performance Rights Organizations.
Yet that’s what’s just been announced in Germany today (December 4), with local PRO, GEMA, confirming that it has bought a majority stake in Zebralution – a Berlin-based distie that works with over 1,000 record labels and audio book publishers from around the world.
Those with longer memories will recall that Zebralution was previously part of Warner Music Group, before the major agreed to sell the company in 2017 to an independent consortium as part of its post-Parlophone disposals.
GEMA said that its majority-acquisition of the company, for an undisclosed fee, strengthens its position in the growing digital market for music, podcasts and audio books.
“By acquiring a stake in Zebralution, GEMA becomes one of the first collective management organisations in the world to secure commercial participation in a growth segment of the music market,” said a media release.
“By taking a stake in Zebralution, GEMA has made a targeted investment that secures its future viability.”
Dr Harald Heker, GEMA (pictured)
Zebralution will operate as an autonomous business under the GEMA umbrella.
GEMA represents the copyright of more than 74,000 members, among them composers, lyricists and music publishers, and more than two million copyright owners worldwide.
“By taking a stake in Zebralution, GEMA has made a targeted investment that secures its future viability,” says Dr Harald Heker, GEMA’s CEO.
“Through Zebralution, we will also be able to support our members in the digital distribution of their musical works. GEMA’s relevance in the digital music market will thus be significantly increased.”
Kurt Thielen, founder and MD of Zebralution, said: “We are very pleased to have found an ideal and extremely strong partner in GEMA.
“This also bridges a gap for musicians and performers, with the joint objective of achieving fair remuneration for creatives.”
In 2018, GEMA generated revenues of more than €1bn (€1.019bn), down slightly from the €1.074bn it collected in 2017.
From this 2018 sum, the music exploitation company paid out €859.5m to its 74,000 members.Music Business Worldwide