(Haddaway – ‘What Is Love’ cover, 1992 © BMG)

BMG has announced it has acquired the catalogue of pioneering Cologne record label Coconut Music, including the recorded rights of Haddaway, whose 1993 single ‘What Is Love’ has been streamed more than a billion times, as well as tracks by Bad Boys Blue, London Beat and Wolfgang Petry.

The deal builds on BMG’s 2022 acquisition of Haddaway’s recorded royalties, giving the company 100% control of one of the most iconic songs of the Nineties: In 2010, Eminem sold one million downloads of his song ‘No Love’ with Lil Wayne, which uses a sample of ‘What Is Love’ in the chorus. In 2023, ‘Baby Don’t Hurt Me’ by David Guetta, Anne-Marie and Coi Leray hit the charts in more than 30 countries and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Dance Recording.

Coconut Music (formerly known as Coconut Records) was founded in 1981 by Karin Hartmann and Tony Hendrik in Cologne. The label scored success across multiple genres, but ‘What Is Love’ became a worldwide hit selling 2.6m copies, reaching Number One in 13 countries and hitting number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, receiving four platinum and seven gold awards.

Co-founder Karin Hartmann said, “Building Coconut was a labor of love. Every track holds its memories and of course ‘What Is Love’ was a global success beyond our wildest dreams. It’s no surprise then when we decided to sell, there was a lot of interest. What was most important to us is that we would find a buyer which understood and respected what we achieved and would do this catalogue justice. We are delighted to have been able to conclude a deal with the BMG team.”

BMG EVP Repertoire & Marketing Continental Europe Maximilian Kolb said, “We are delighted to become custodians of Coconut’s 2,500 track catalogue and especially ‘What Is Love’. It is one of the most influential tracks in the whole Europop movement and as seen in David Guetta’s successful homage last year, it still very much resonates with music fans today. We look forward to ensuring its place in music history.”

Coconut Music was advised in the transaction by the lawyers Karsten Dropmann and Bettina Strehl of Kiso Siefert Dropmann (Germany).