Kurt Thielen to step down as CEO of Zebralution; Konrad von Löhneysen and Tina Jürgens named co-CEOs

Pictured L-R: Sascha Lazimbat, Konrad von Löhneysen, Tina Jürgens, and Kurt Thielen

Kurt Thielen, who co-founded Zebralution in 2004, is stepping down as CEO at the end of the year after almost 20 years at the helm.

The German independent digital distributor promoted Chief Operating Officer Tina Jürgens as Co-CEO alongside label veteran Konrad von Löhneysen.

Jürgens, who has overseen day-to-day operations as COO since October 2022, will take over management of Zebralution by January 2024. She joined the company in 2018 as Managing Director of Zebralution Podcast (formerly zebra-audio.net).

“Kurt Thielen has very big shoes to fill, so I am honored to have the trust of all shareholders and co-managers. Zebralution has developed over the past years from a music-only distributor to one of the leading all-audio companies,” Jürgens said.

Jürgens added: “Zebralution is now not only at home in the music, audiobooks and podcast industries, it also offers the necessary technical infrastructure and the corresponding services. I want to successfully continue on this path, with a focus on the further technical development of our systems and offerings, as well as the continued expansion of the synergies between all business areas.” 

“Zebralution is now not only at home in the music, audiobooks and podcast industries, it also offers the necessary technical infrastructure and the corresponding services.”

Tina Jürgens, Zebralution

Von Löhneysen, a shareholder and founder of German independent label Embassy of Music, will serve as Co-CEO alongside Jürgens. 

It is worth noting that Löhneysen became a shareholder in Zebralution in 2017 when he and a group of other independent music industry executives consisting of City Slang founder Christof Ellinghaus, owner of label Embassy of Music, and original founders of Zebralution, Thielen and Sascha Lazimbat, acquired the company from Warner Music Central Europe.

That acquisition took place roughly 10 years after Warner Music acquired Zebralution.

Then in December 2019, German performance rights organization GEMA acquired a majority stake in Zebralution.

Von Löhneysen will be joining Zebralution in October, taking charge of the group’s music division, including expanding its neighboring rights activities through Zebralution subsidiary Rightz Audio. He will also spearhead the group’s US operations.

He is the founder and Managing Director of independent label Embassy of Music, formerly Ministry of Sound Germany GmbH, which Zebralution signed as one of its earliest clients, the company said.

Embassy of Music is set to renew its distribution partnership with Zebralution and extend its partnership with Ellinghaus’ City Slang.

“this new position is the logical continuation of my previous work as a shareholder. My thanks go to Kurt for his  successful leadership of the company.”

Konrad von Löhneysen, Zebralution

Commenting on his appointment, von Löhneysen said: “For me, this new position is the logical continuation of my previous work as a shareholder. My thanks go to Kurt for his successful leadership of the company. We will continue to strengthen Zebralution’s influence on the music world.”

“We are a Berlin-based company – with no major or financial investors. We understand music and we listen to what our partners and labels want, whatever the challenges may be. These are exciting times to be in the Music Biz!”

Meanwhile, Thielen will remain in the company on a consultancy basis, focusing on the group’s international audiobook business. Prior to establishing Zebralution, Thielen formed Rough Trade Germany/Zomba, a European independent physical distributor.

“I look back on 38 exciting years as CEO of Zebralution and Rough Trade/Zomba. I am immensely proud of what we have achieved with Zebralution as pioneers in the industry. I can’t think of a more opportune moment for this change in responsibility,” said Thielen.

“I would like to thank the fantastic Zebralution team, my fellow shareholders and especially Tina and Konrad. With these two, I know the company is in the best hands. I am sure they will lead Zebralution with as much passion as I did.” 

Sascha Lazimbat, who co-founded Zebralution, will transition from his role as Managing Director to Director and President of the company’s US arm this month.

Los Angeles-based Zebralution US Inc. launched at the beginning of 2023. Lazimbat will join CEO Natalia Carlson in Zebralution US. He will head up marketing, sales and customer support services for all of the group’s business units in the US market.

“The Zebralution Group has always been driven by new opportunities and challenges, and currently we see tremendous growth potential in the US. Zebralution is well positioned in Europe, now we want to bring our state-of-the-art technologies and products to the US market. With Tina and Konrad as Co-CEOs of Zebralution Group, we have a real dream team at the helm. And the fact that we are now demonstrating the diversity of our company at its highest level is the cherry on top for me,” Lazimbat said.

Nearly a year ago, Zebralution teamed up with Deezer and 13 other industry partners for a European Union-funded project to make lyric translation accessible in EU languages.

Music Business Worldwide

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