BMG Increases Revenues During Pandemic to Record Result

BMG, the integrated music publishing and records company, increased its revenues in the first half of 2020, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effective shutdown of both the live music business and record stores worldwide.

Figures released this morning by the company’s shareholder, international media, services and education company Bertelsmann show BMG, the world’s largest international music company outside the three “majors”, increased revenues by 4.8% in the first six months of 2020 to €282m (H1 2019: €269m). EBITDA was level at €49m (H1 2019: €49m).

It is BMG’s best first-half result since it was founded in 2008. 

It came despite the forced closure of the company’s 19 offices worldwide due to the pandemic with its 926 strong team working remotely.

Key drivers of the results were a strong performance by the company’s music publishing business and surging streaming numbers for the company’s recording artists.

The company’s strong focus on proven and established artists paid dividends with streaming of its recorded catalogue up 49% year-on-year. Overall recorded streaming was up 26%.

BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said, “To deliver a record result in the midst of a pandemic is a remarkable achievement. It is a testament to our artist-centric business model, but also to our 926-strong team worldwide who went to extraordinary lengths to maintain service to our artist and songwriter clients.

BMG client successes during the period included:

Digital accounted for 83% of recordings revenue and 48% of music publishing revenue during the period.

There were no major acquisitions during the period. Said Masuch, “Our growth is almost entirely organic. Despite the high levels of M&A in the wider music industry, we have not made a major acquisition since 2017. Our focus is on growing by delivering better, fairer, more efficient services to artists and songwriters. There is no doubt musicians are hurting through the pandemic, particularly with the loss of live business. That puts a particular responsibility on record labels and music publishers to help artists and songwriters maximise their earnings.”

BMG expanded its services to musicians in the first half of 2020 with the launch of a new service to collect royalties due to artists when recordings are played in public, so-called neighbouring rights. “We are here to help artists and songwriters make a living from their creativity in every way possible,” said Masuch, “and we will continue to expand our services.”

In a note to the BMG team today (1 September) Masuch provided an update on the company’s response to racial disadvantage. “Action is more important than words,” he wrote, “and I am glad to say we are already making good progress on the pledges we made in the wake of Blackout Tuesday. Elections are underway for our new Diversity & Inclusion Council, we will be announcing details of our latest Black community outreach effort in the US later this week and we are in the middle of consultation on the results of our review of historic acquired recording contracts. We will not waste this opportunity to move things on.”