Hartwig Masuch: 7 years of the ‘new’ BMG has been ‘a force for good’

The ‘new’ BMG is seven years old this week, and CEO Hartwig Masuch has sent a rallying message to employees to mark the occasion – one which suggests his company is helping to force the majors to be more honest.

BMG launched as an independent entity on October 1, 2008, having sold off its old recorded music catalogue to former partner Sony.

Now fully owned by parent Bertelsmann, BMG has acquired an impressive list of assets since its rebirth.

In publishing, these have included Bug, Cherry Lane, Stage Three, Chrysalis, Primary Wave, Virgin Music and Talpa.

In recorded music, it has swooped for the likes of Sanctuary, Mute, Dreyfus and Skint/Loaded Infectious, Union Square, Vagrant and most recently, Rise Records.

BMG has done so while signing a recording contract with artists typically based on sensible advances and shared risk, with a 70%+ share of revenue being credited to acts.

Through this acquisitive strategy, the Berlin-based company has officially grown to the 4th biggest music publisher in the world and the 5th biggest recorded music company in the UK.

BMG is eight years younger than another disruptive ‘new’ music company eating up market share, Kobalt, which was born in 2000.

You can read Masuch’s letter to staff, obtained by MBW, below.


Today should not pass without a reminder that it marks the seventh anniversary of the creation of BMG – and to reflect on the remarkable things we have achieved together.

It was 1 October 2008 when the new BMG began. Max and I were armed only with a business plan, the support of Bertelsmann and a conviction that artists and songwriters deserved a better deal.

While virtually everything in the music landscape was changing following the digital revolution, the music industry itself had failed to respond and reform. It was time to start with a blank sheet, and to offer artists and songwriters the fairness, the transparency and the service they deserve.

It’s one thing to have a plan and a theory; it’s something else entirely to make it happen. You have made it happen.

“We have been a force for good. Some of the most conservative companies in music now feel obliged to talk about transparency and fairness.”

Seven years on, BMG is the fourth biggest music publisher in the world, we have the biggest international recordings business outside the majors and our latest service offering, our audiovisual business, is growing fast.

We can all be proud of what we have achieved.

We have brought together some amazing publishing catalogues – from Cherry Lane to Bug, Chrysalis, Hal David, Virgin and Talpa Music – and some incredible record labels – Sanctuary, Infectious, Trojan, Vagrant and Rise. We are creating fantastic video programming with Berlin Live and Soundstage. And we are consistently attracting new clients from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to Robbie Williams to Steve Mac and Wayne Hector to Janet Jackson and Bryan Ferry, as well as newer names like Bibi Bourelly and George Ezra.

In an industry which is shrinking, we have created jobs. From the initial team of three, we now number around 450.

In an industry which is resistant to change, we have been a force for good. Some of the most conservative companies in the business now feel obliged to talk about transparency and fairness (even if they may not always act on it!).

And in an industry which has too often treated artists and songwriters as employees, we have pioneered a new approach based on partnership.

None of this would have happened without your passion, spirit and focus, and the faith and support of Bertelsmann.

As we enter the fourth quarter, and embark on our eighth year, Max and I would like to thank all of you for your efforts in helping us come so far.  It is your commitment to going the extra mile each and every day which is key to our ability to grow.

That hard work is appreciated. Thank you.Music Business Worldwide

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