Warner Music Group has acquired Gala Records Group, the first privately owned record label in Russia, WMG announced today in a statement. The label, launched in 1988, operates distribution, publishing, live production and artist representation businesses in addition to its recorded music division. Gala's distribution arm, works with indies such as K7, Fat Cat Records and Kontor, among others. The acquisition is WMG's first fully-owned business in the country.
“We are delighted to welcome Gala to the Warner Music family. Russia represents a significant opportunity and, with Gala spearheading our operations there, we will be well positioned for growth in this vibrant and dynamic market," wrote WMG CEO Stephen Cooper in a statement.
Gala CEO Alexander Blinov also commented: “We are joining one of the most experienced and professional teams in the music industry and one that shares our passion and love for music. WMG’s expertise and involvement is extremely valuable for the developing Russian music market, and will strengthen our efforts to foster its growth."
Warner Music Group was acquired by Russian mogul Len Blavatnik's Access Industries in 2011 for roughly $3.3 billion, marking the company's first foray into the music business. With Access Industries' deep roots in Russian business -- the company has footprint in industries as varied as television, telecom, real estate and natural resources -- WMG's acquisition of Gala would seem a prudent move with its ability to leverage its parent company's many national ties.
And Gala is already well-versed in terms of fighting for copyright protection. Last year the company emerged the victor in a suit against VKontakte, Russia's largest social networking business when a court found that VKontakte has been making Gala's content available without permission. The court ordered VKontakte to pay roughly $17,000 in damages.