With 11bn streams to date and annual revenues of $17m, Global Records is one of the CEE region’s biggest hits…

Romania’s Global Records is an independent heavyweight.

Founded in 2008 by Lucian Ștefan, the Bucharest-headquartered music company reports to have generated 11 billion streams to date, and boasts a catalog of over 1,000 recordings and more than 1,100 songs.

Global has good reason for claiming to be Eastern Europe’s biggest independent record label, with around 40 artists on its roster, and over 45 writer-producers signed via its publishing division.

The label, which has paid out more than €30 million (approx $34m) in royalties over the past six years, cites a number of success stories from 2021, including Romanian superstar Minelli, whose single Rampampam peaked at No.6 on the Global Shazam charts last year. 

The track was also a hit across various markets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).

Rampampam topped Russia’s airplay chart for eight weeks, and hit No.1 in Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria, where Global says its tracks had the biggest independent label radio market share at the end of 2021.

The label also charted in the market in 2021 with artists like INNA, Olivia Addams, Irina Rimes, Antonia, wrs, Sickotoy and Roxen.

Meanwhile, INNA’s track Flashbacks reached No.55 in the Global Shazam chart in 2021, and also charted on Russia and Romania’s airplay charts.

Plus, the solo version of INNA’s track Up reached No.45 on the Global Shazam Chart and No.4 in the Shazam Global Dance chart at the end of 2021.

Dancehall star Sean Paul joined her for a remix following its success, with the official video for the track, released last month, having clocked up over 19 million views so far.

Speaking to MBW, Diana Munteanu, Head of Label, Global Records, notes that of all the digital marketing channels used by Global, TikTok in particular has played a significant role in the label’s recent hits, having struck partnerships with the platform for Russia, Turkey, Romania and CEE countries.

She also cites the “marketing power” of Shazam, particularly in Russia, where she says “tracks played heavily by radio and in clubs get propelled to the Global Shazam chart”.

According to Munteanu, the combination of Global’s “A&R focus” together with radio play, Shazams off the back of that radio play – and a robust TikTok strategy in multiple markets – resulted in 2.2 billion streams for Global’s artists across YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music in 2021 .

Munteanu also tells MBW that Global’s group of companies generated over €15 million (approx. $17m) in revenue in 2021 alone, and that it’s targeting €20 million (approx $22.86m) this year.

Other highlights from Global last year include Olivia Addams’ Stranger spending seven weeks at No.1 on the official Polish radio single chart, in addition to chart placements in Turkey with artists like INNA, Minelli, Gran Error, wrs and Sickotoy.

In Russia & CIS, Global Records’ artists Olivia Addams, Roxen, Holy Molly and Irina Rimes all secured places on the radio charts throughout the year.

“What we aim for is continuous growth, not only revenue-wise but also in our company and catalog’s value.”

Diana Munteanu, Global Records

Global’s steady stream of hits in 2021 drove the company to what it says was the No.1 independent record label position based on radio market share in the CEE and CIS regions at the end of 2021.

“Our songs accumulated the biggest weekly market share for an independent label on radio in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania, by the end of 2021” says Munteanu.

“What we aim for is continuous growth, not only revenue-wise but also in our company and catalog’s value.”

Here, Diana Munteanu tells MBW how Global Records is using TikTok to grow its audience, about opportunities for the music business in Russia, and how Global plans to expand its reach beyond CEE and CIS to markets in Western Europe, including France, the UK and Germany…

We’ve been told by senior music executives that Russia is one of the most exciting regions in Central Europe right now for music – how big do you think Russia can get for Global Records and also for the music industry worldwide?

Russia is one of the largest emerging markets in the world when it comes to digital service platforms. Spotify has been present in the region for a year-and-a-half, and TikTok is also relatively new in the market.

YouTube is investing a lot in marketing and rolling out new features, constantly creating new opportunities for artists in the region to reach their communities with innovative content.

“Russia is one of the largest emerging markets in the world when it comes to digital service platforms.”

It is also a very interesting territory when it comes to the marketing power of the Shazam charts. Due to specific market conditions and the size of the region, tracks played by radio and in clubs get propelled to the Global Shazam chart.

This is why, in the Top 200, we observe a lot of Russian language tracks and even a few regional-only hits. At the same time, having been a strong cultural influence for a long time over the region, Russian media and audiences have the power to push music in territories such as the Baltic countries, Poland and CEE.

As far as revenue goes, the most interesting sources for immediate income are booking and endorsement campaigns. Brands create their campaigns locally, geo-targeted for the region, preferring to feature KOLs [Key Opinion Leaders] that are directly relevant for the market, relatable and close to their culture.

There are also a lot of strong local businesses investing in communicating through regional artists and content creators.

We often hear about the revenue potential of specific three brands for music companies: TikTok, Facebook and Peloton – how significant are these platforms becoming for your business?

The platform that drives more audiences than any other, generating both marketing and revenue advantages, is TikTok.

A TikTok live session, officially supported by the app, has become an exposure platform similar [in scale] to the biggest festivals in the world.

With 600,000 cumulative unique viewers, INNA (pictured) and Minelli’s [live] sessions on the app have reached all seven continents, in just three sessions.

TikTok also has the power of boosting tracks in the Spotify and Shazam charts, becoming more valuable as a marketing tool than any other traditional medium.

“TikTok also has the power of boosting tracks in the Spotify and Shazam charts, becoming more valuable as a marketing tool than any other traditional medium.”

Facebook is relevant for a more mature audience, at least when it comes to CEE and CIS, reaching 30-plus-year-old listeners, who generally have greater purchasing power.

[Facebook] is a strong tool for selling concert [tickets], merch and promoting adult contemporary music. It also has good engagement when it comes to fan group pages, which are one of the core assets that a mature artist can wield for disseminating news. A very good example is the Eurovision universe, which is strongly rooted in Facebook.

What do you feel is the biggest opportunity for the music business in Russia and CIS in 2022?

The fast growing penetration of digital services and growing number of paying users are definitely an argument to pursue [opportunities] the region.

Also, the fact that the market has been dominated by the majors in the past creates an interesting niche for independent labels and management agencies.

“Russia is definitely a hot spot for the worldwide music industry.”

In a world in which artists already have all the resources at hand to independently produce and distribute their music to worldwide audiences through digital platforms, it is vital that record labels adapt to the very specific strategic needs of their clients.

Taking into consideration the size of the country, its cultural influence over the extended region and the fact that in recent years it started to be a music trend maker, together with the hub of amazingly talented artists and content creators that come from Russia, the country is definitely a hot spot for the worldwide music industry.

What other trends are you seeing in the market that you can tell us about?

Music is starting to become more and more geographically polarized. Speaking with radio playlist managers and digital curators in CEE and CIS, we observed that they prefer local/ regional music, as it tends to be more relatable for their audiences, sound and message wise, than hits coming from the US or Central Europe.

“Music is starting to become more and more geographically polarized.”

The fact that artists can travel more easily in the region for promo and shows brings them even closer to audiences, in a time in which the listener has been driven almost completely, in the past two years, towards DSP music consumption.

This is why TikTok representatives prefer to promote live sessions and activations with local artists, DSP curators prefer to include 70% to 80% local music in their playlists. The phenomenon is [clearest] in Russia and Poland.

How significant is TikTok in Russia and how important do you foresee the app becoming for artists there?

In Russia, just like in Asia and the US, TikTok is vital for the music business.

It is a creator of trends and hits and, dare I say, the most relevant platform for artists to get closer to their audiences.

All of this materializes in an increase of streaming revenue through better exposure of music and also has the potential to bring in revenue through brand partnerships.

“In Russia, just like in Asia and the US, TikTok is vital for the music business.”

In 2021, Russian artists tended to release their music in advance on TikTok, from two to four weeks before the [wider] release.

TikTok houses in Russia are also a strong marketing tool for the industry, from artists and labels to brands, being shaped as clusters of KOLs with a combined following and exposure to reckon with.

TikTok generates concert ticket sales for artists without radio exposure and strongly influences both Spotify and Apple charts.

Could you tell us about your partnership with publishing house Honua Music – what does it entail and why did you decide to partner with them?

Our partnership with Honua Music started organically thanks to the close relationship that Stefan Lucian (pictured), Global Records’ owner, has with one of the co-founders of the company, Andreas Schuller (aka Axident).

Having worked together for a long time on various successful projects, the collaboration came as the next natural step.

As of now, we own a minority share in the company and our common mission is to join forces in offering the best market opportunities to both Honua and Global Records talents.

The publishing house [hosts] amazing talent, from Alida, having written and released for artists such as Katy Perry, Alok, Robin Schulz, R3HAB, Kylie Minogue and Axident himself, a grammy-nominated producer and songwriter renowned for his work with Justin Bieber, Jason Derulo, Pitbull, Dua Lipa, Zedd to Gladius (Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, Ty Dolla Sign, XXXTentacion), Leo from daysof1993 (Rihanna, Travis Scott, Nicky Jam) and many more.

Our strategic partnership aims to create a bridge between Central Europe and CEE / CIS, as both parties bring [expertise] in each of the two regions with the purpose of creating global smash hits.

We reported in 2020 that Warner Music appointed Global Records as its licensee in Romania – please tell us about all the partnerships you have with record companies, who you are distributed by and who you would consider working with in future?

Our marketing teams on ground in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Turkey work on a day-to-day basis with our headquarters in Romania and our network of collaborators in countries such as France, Mexico, Germany, India and beyond.

When it comes to Global Publishing, we organize numerous music composition camps, with our writers and producers joining forces with publishers globally such as Phrased Differently, The Very Good Company, WePublish, Kobalt Music, Pulse Music, Sound Collective, B-Unique, Nordic Music Partners, Ten Music Group, No Favors Club, Stefan Dabruck, Popular Demand.

On the licensing and promo side, we work with all majors in the market, along with the strongest independent labels, territory by territory, from Liquid State in Japan to APG in the US, and Magic Records in Poland.

In a previous interview with MBW, you told us that you invest over €4 million annually to develop and market the artists on the label. Do you foresee this increasing in 2022?

As our roster is developing and our regional expansion is ongoing, we are definitely keeping the investment trend.

Having a volume of releases of over 450 [singles] as of 2022, over the years we have created and developed various creative photo and video teams.

Thus, the areas we spend the most in are shifting from photo and video productions and classic promo, to investing in highly skilled professionals that can create a real difference in the services we can offer to artists and composers.

In the music business, music comes first, so a vital area of investment for 2022 is represented by our international music composition camps in partnership with publishers from Germany, the UK, US and the Nordics.

Global Records is seeing success in markets such as Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey – what is your ambition for the growth of your presence in these markets?

At the beginning of 2021 we set the target of being the biggest independent record label in the CEE & CIS region.

The last radio charts in December positioned Global Records as the label with the biggest market share in each of: Poland, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, with six tracks charting in each country.

Our intention for 2022 is to extend our area of musical influence towards central Europe, with music created by joining the forces of our internationally acclaimed writers and producers with global superstar hit makers from the US, UK, Germany and the Nordics.

At the same time, this year we aim to organize the biggest artist casting in CEE & CIS, resulting in signing five fresh talents in which we will invest [a total of] over €1 Million ($1.14m) in music, photo and video productions.

The purpose is to solidify our position in the region with local language speaking artists, who are culturally relatable for the area, with no traveling and promo restrictions in these uncertain times.

Tell us about your ambition for success in other European markets such as Germany and also further afield, in markets such as the United States?

We celebrated the end of a great 2021 with the release of INNA’s collaboration with Sean Paul (pictured), UP.

The track reached No.45 in the Global Shazam and No.4 in the Shazam Global Dance charts, with great radio and digital results in countries from Poland, Russia, Turkey to Asia and MENA.

More collaborations with both urban artists and DJs are on the way for 2022.

Our network of collaborators span from CIS and CEE to France, Mexico, Spain, Germany and LATAM, thus creating the conditions for a better penetration on these markets.Music Business Worldwide

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