Bertelsmann’s music subsidiary BMG significantly grew its publishing and recorded music business in 2017, expanding its scope to include audiovisual content and continued its international expansion. BMG benefited from the acquisition of the country label BBR Music Group, as well as from prominent artist signings and chart successes, and a continuing upturn in the recorded music industry fueled by streaming and new emerging markets.
BMG’s revenues increased by 21.8 percent to €507 million (previous year: €416 million). This is attributable to higher revenues across all market segments and regions through organic growth and acquisition, especially in the recorded music business and in the British, US and Australian publishing business. Operating EBITDA also increased due to organic and acquisition derived growth, rising by 9.5 percent to €104 million (previous year: €95 million). This development was driven by the recording business in the United States as well as by the publishing business in the United Kingdom and United States. The EBITDA margin was 20.5 percent (previous year: 22.8 percent).
BMG expanded its portfolio with a series of purchases and catalog acquisitions. In January, the company acquired the BBR Music Group, which includes the country music labels Broken Bow Records, Stoney Creek Records and Wheelhouse Records, as well as the music publisher Magic Mustang Music. The deal secures BMG a significant position in the country music capital of Nashville – and thus in the lucrative country music market.
In September, Chrissie Hynde, founder and singer of the British rock band The Pretenders, entrusted her entire song catalog to BMG. In the recorded music business, BMG added Nickelback, Morrissey, Avril Lavigne, Fergie, Kylie Minogue and the rapper Kontra K to its artist roster. Further expansion of the recorded music business was accompanied by a strong showing in music publishing, with BMG songwriters responsible for each of the top three songs in the Billboard Hot 100 for 13 consecutive weeks in summer 2017.
The company has strengthened its international footprint with enhanced representation in Canada and an expansion of its activities in China, including an innovative partnership with mobile social network Momo to develop Chinese talent with the help of BMG songwriters.
BMG extended the range of services it offers to artists with an entry into the movie and television business. Its first major production – a documentary about Joan Jett – was selected to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Moreover, BMG grouped its production music interests into a new international business unit, focused on commissioning and marketing the rights to music specifically produced for movies, radio, the Internet, video games and advertising.
BMG concluded significant partnership agreements with several major entertainment providers in the reporting period. The company now manages the music publishing rights of RTL Group’s content production arm Fremantle Media, the streaming provider Netflix and the production company Amblin Partners, founded by Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg.
BMG also developed a mobile application called myBMG, which gives artists and songwriters a 24/7 overview of their constantly updated royalty information.
Additional stats for 2017:
· Revenue increase to €17.2 billion thanks to improved organic growth
· Operating EBITDA reaches record level of more than €2.6 billion
· At nearly €1.2 billion, Group profit at highest level since 2006
· Strategic majorities held in all divisions following share increase in Penguin Random House Economic investments of €1.8 billion
· Revenue share from high-growth businesses increases to 32 percent; digital activities generate 46 percent of total revenue
· Group calls for level regulatory playing field for technology platforms and media companies
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