German media group Bertelsmann is investing in the music business again: BMG Rights Management will be opening its head office in Berlin as of Jan. 2009. In the coming months offices are also to be opened in Amsterdam, Paris, London, Madrid and Milan. The company plans to employ 30 people.

The CEO of BMG Rights Management, Hartwig Masuch, who was previously CEO of BMG Publishing in Germany, said that the new company's core competency will be in advising songwriters and performers in building their repertoire, supporting them with marketing and licensing services, and providing transparent coverage of all their rights management needs. It will also provide appropriate advance financing during the rights-building process. BMG Rights Management is able to draw on all the services offered by the Bertelsmann Group.

Bertelsmann announced its plans at a press conference in Berlin today (Oct. 14). The company's 50% stake in Sony BMG was acquired by Sony Corp. Oct. 1.

BMG Rights Management's principal asset will be the European catalogs of more than 200 artists from the former Sony BMG joint venture. The back catalogs are from artists including veteran rock group the Scorpions, Italian singer/songwriter Paolo Conte and French singer Sylvie Vartan.

Distribution of releases from the catalogs is being handled by Sony Music Entertainment in Europe.

Masuch said: "Music is being used to a greater extent and exploited more comprehensively than ever before, over and above the traditional distribution of records.

"A growing number of online and mobile platforms, in film, TV and commercial productions, radio and TV broadcasts, concerts or video games, are playing a key role. Today, a music writer or performer can derive significantly more income from the rights to his work than before. This is where we want to position ourselves with customized, flexible services as well as transparent accounting."

BMG Rights Management is also optimistic about marketing the music catalogs on the TV station RTL, which is owned by Bertelsmann. "The RTL Group is one of the most important holders and users of music rights in Europe through its production and broadcasting business," said Masuch.

Other artist catalogs under BMG Rights Management's control include the German singer Nena, the English folk artist Sally Oldfield, the late French singers Yves Montand and Gilbert Becaud, the Spanish pop group Mecano, Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer, and the Italian singer/songwriter Ivano Fossati.