The Bertelsmann Music Group has weathered a lot of changes over the last few decades. Founded in 1987, the German-based music company was acquired by Sony in 2008. At the time, the firm, more commonly known as BMG, was the world’s largest independent music publisher and had signed everyone from Janet Jackson to The Smashing Pumpkins.
However, these days it is BMG’s rights management that seems more relevant than many major labels, according to Chief Executive Hartwig Masuch. This is thanks to a stable of well-known artists and a willingness to negotiate. His secret to attracting new talent: Most artists and their attorneys today negotiate a 50-50 deal with record companies. BMG is wooing artists with a 70-30 split.
That aggressive strategy is helping BMG add a limited number of emerging artists to its regular stable, which still includes Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger and gutarist Keith Richards.
The German business weekly WirtschaftsWoche, a sister publication of Handelsblatt, sat down recently with Mr. Masuch to talk strategy.
Wirtschafts Woche: Mr. Masuch, the hit “Lost on You” by your artist Laura Pergolizzi, known as LP, is playing constantly on the radio these days, and the album is breaking into the pop charts in multiple countries. We didn’t expect that.