In an unusual move aimed at eliminating age discrimination in music broadcasts, BMG, one of the largest music companies in the world.
Noting that legacy catalog records account for three-quarters of revenue in the streaming era, the company will fully integrate its new release and catalog records business. It is the first large company in the industry to do so.
CEO Hartwig Masuch, who has led the company since its relaunch in 2008, said, “Music fans show every day that the music industry is denying new music its outdated privileges over old music. Music is music regardless of age. Great artists and great music don’t have an expiration date, and we believe it’s time for the music industry to reflect that.”
The music industry has always focused on the new and has spent most of its resources discovering, developing and breaking new artists. Still, the value of the catalog became more apparent in the 1980s as fans replaced their favorite vinyl albums with CDs, and as it became a thriving business with major labels developing catalog divisions focused on re-release and repackaging of old material, such as Warner’s Rhino and Sony’s Legacy. Older material, often in flashy boxed sets. The continued popularity of legacy records has only grown in the last four decades, from ubiquitous use in movies, television, and advertising to unexpected TikTok hits like the organic resurgence of Fleetwood Mac on the platform last year.
The business is so focused on the new that publications older than 18 months are considered catalogues, while those older than several years are classified as “deep catalogues”. Many felt that these distinctions were becoming increasingly obsolete. as streaming flattens the playing fields of music categorization.
Since its re-launch in 2008, bmg even a large percentage of their newly recorded albums come from familiar faces like Lenny Kravitz, Lewis Tomlinson, Bryan Adams, Adam Lambert and Kylie Minogue. Combined with its strong publishing division, which relies heavily on catalogues, BMG has focused on the not-so-new, establishing itself as one of the world’s largest music companies. The company leverages BMG’s global, versatile strength to not only release boxed sets and other reprints from catalog artists, but also books and documentariesIncluding the David Bowie documentary “Moonage Daydream” and the Lewis Capaldi movie “How I’m Feeling Now” currently streaming on Netflix.
Tuesday’s announcement basically codifies this business plan. BMG’s registered catalog divisions will now report locally to their country of origin and then globally for all sales outside the ownership region, through Fred Casimir, EVP of the global repertoire; this is what the company’s announcement arrogantly called “new so-“frontline” records.
In a note to BMG staff, Masuch said, “BMG was the first music company to acknowledge that legacy music will be more important in a streaming environment than in the past. This is confirmed by market statistics showing that its new streaming frontline business has dropped to 30% or less in streaming consumption.
“This is why we invest heavily in the classical repertoire and the majority of our leading new releases are from established and well-known artists. But until now we have always followed industry practice of having a separate global reporting line for catalog recordings rather than the front line.
“This is changing now. With immediate effect, the saved catalog now reports locally by country of origin and then globally through the EVP Global Repertoire for all sales outside the region of ownership.
Casimir said, “There is no big secret to BMG’s success. It’s about adjusting ourselves to the needs of artists and adapting to the realities of the streaming world. Successful music catalogs deserve the same effort, dedication and passion as new records.”
BMG’s registered catalog also includes recordings by Black Sabbath, the Kinks, Motörhead, Rick Astley, Mötley Crüe, Nick Cave and others.