Hartwig Masuch: A Better Deal

21. Sept. 2017 @ Schnittchen (Klubhaus St. Pauli)

Speaker: Hartwig Masuch (CEO, BMG Rights Management, Germany)

Moderator: Ralph Simon (CEO & Founder; Chairman Emeritus & Founder, The Mobilium Advisory Group; Mobile Entertainment Forum - Americas, United Kingdom)

Go to the programme here.

Over the course of nearly a decade, publisher and label BMG has grown to become the fourth biggest music company in the world. A key element behind success that has included No.1 albums in the UK and US, and high profile signings such as Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams and The Prodigy, is transparency and fairness, said BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch during his interview on the second day of Reeperbahn Festival. BMG is owned by the Bertelsmann Music Group, and marks the firm’s second entry into the music business. Bertelsmann previously owned labels RCA, Arista and Zomba before selling them to Sony in the mid 2000s. The reason for the sale, Masuch told the audience, was due to realising that the digital revolution would transform the relationship between the artist and those that represent them. “It was going to be much more transparent, global, and as a music company you have to be able to deal with that. So we got out of the music industry and decided to start from scratch. The mandate from Bertelsmann was that we have to be the fairest guys in music, and if we catch you cheating, we’ll sell you or fire you!”

BMG promises to give acts a fairer deal than they would get at the major companies. That means delivering on promises, being committed, and allowing artists freedom to decide how they are going to reinvest their income. Masuch explained: “Fair has many dimensions. The relevant part for us is how reliable and committed are you to doing what you promised to do. A fair deal for us means that if we start a discussion, we come up with a clear commitment to what we will do, with numbers attached to it. Artists see this as a big game changer.

“The other aspect is that we take a share from artists’ income that allows us to run our infrastructure and be profitable, and then the remaining 75% is available to artists to reinvest in their career, whatever that might mean.”

That attitude has secured recording or publishing deals with a wide variety of acts including Janet Jackson, Frank Ocean, Bruno Mars, Max Giesinger and Dustin Lynch. BMG secured two No.1 albums in the US over the last year with Jackson and Blink 182, and has worldwide presence thanks to the acquisition of Chrysalis, Virgin, Mute and Sanctuary. In addition, the firm has bought Nashville label Broken Bow Records and its parent BBR Music Group, which Masuch hopes to use to bring UK and German artists to the home of country music, and vice versa. “The whole Nashville music scene has been understated over the last 15 years. This could be a big game changer for us,” Masuch concluded.

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