BMG abandons 'outdated' distinction to integrate new release & catalogue recordings businesses

BMG abandons 'outdated' distinction to integrate new release & catalogue recordings businesses

BMG has become the first global music company to abandon the “outdated” industry distinction between new frontline and older catalogue recordings, the company has revealed.

Reflecting the new reality of a streaming market in which older catalogue recordings account for up to three quarters of revenue, BMG will fully integrate its new release and catalogue recordings businesses. 

With immediate effect, BMG’s recorded catalogue will now report locally as per its country of origin and then globally through EVP, global repertoire Fred Casimir for all sales outside the owning territory. It is exactly the same structure it uses for new, so-called ‘frontline’ recordings.

In the UK in Q1, a catalogue release by The Weeknd was the biggest seller. The Highlights was one of six catalogue titles in the Top 10 for Q1. There has been a growing awareness about the artificial distinction between catalogue and new music.

BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said: “Music fans demonstrate on a daily basis that they reject the music industry’s outdated privileging of new music over older music. Music is music regardless of its age. Great artists and great music have no expiry date and we believe it is time for the music industry to reflect that.”

Great artists and great music have no expiry date and we believe it is time for the music industry to reflect that

Hartwig Masuch

In a note to BMG staff, Masuch wrote: “BMG was the first music company to recognise that in a streaming environment, older music would be relatively more important than it had ever been in the past. This is borne out by market statistics which show that the new release frontline business is down to 30% or less of streaming consumption. 

“It is why we have invested heavily in classic repertoire and why the majority of our frontline new releases are by proven and established artists. But until now we have always followed industry practice in having a separate global reporting line for catalogue recordings as opposed to frontline. 

That now changes with the increased responsibilities for Casimir.

“This marks a significant expansion of Fred’s responsibilities, and is a reflection of the success of the global frontline marketing team he created in 2018,” wrote Masuch. “He will now in addition be responsible for the global catalogue marketing team and the London-based global licensing hub.

“It also means that on a local level, our repertoire leaders – Thomas Scherer in LA, Alistair Norbury in London etc – will uniquely in the music industry oversee music publishing and frontline and catalogue recordings in their local territories.

“This makes good on our long-term plan to create the world’s first fully integrated music company, it empowers local leaders, it shortens reporting lines and it makes us more responsive for our artist and songwriter clients.”

The change means that Casimir will now lead a team of around 90, responsible for marketing recordings around the world.

Fred Casimir said: “There’s no great secret to BMG’s success. It’s about wrapping ourselves around artists’ needs and adjusting to the realities of the streaming world. Successful music catalogues deserve the same effort, commitment and passion as newer recordings. I am delighted to take on responsibility for marketing BMG’s recorded catalogue.”

Casimir first joined the new BMG in 2009 as MD of BMG Germany from sister Bertelsmann company FremantleMedia, where he was responsible for all of its music-related businesses across Europe. He became EVP, continental Europe in 2012, EVP global recordings and president continental Europe in 2018, before taking up his current role as EVP, global repertoire in 2019. 

International success stories under his leadership include projects from Louis Tomlinson, 5SOS, Lenny Kravitz, Katie Melua, Conkarah, Bryan Adams, Rick Astley, Kylie Minogue and LP, as well as the development of BMG’s films business including the David Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream and the hit Lewis Capaldi documentary Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now, currently streaming on Netflix.

BMG’s recorded catalogue includes recordings from artists including Black Sabbath, The Kinks, Motörhead, Rick Astley, Mötley Crüe, Kylie Minogue, Chris Rea and Nick Cave among many others.


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