Business

BMG Enters Live Business With Undercover Deal in Germany

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Julia Schoierer

Photo (L to R) Maximilian Kolb (BMG, Managing Director GSA), Michael Schacke (Undercover, CEO), Dominique Casimir (BMG, EVP Repertoire & Marketing Continental Europe)

Despite the international halt on in-person tours due to the pandemic, BMG is entering the live music business for the first time, the company announced today (Oct. 21), thanks to a new deal with independent German live music promoter Undercover GmbH.

The deal, expected to close this month, gives BMG a majority stake in Undercover, which will form the basis for a new live music and event business unit within BMG in Germany. Like BMG's publishing and recording units, the live division will be an opt-in service for BMG artists.

"Moving into live is the logical extension of BMG’s plan to integrate all the services an artist could need under one roof, with the artist brand at the center of it all," explains BMG executive vp repertoire & marketing continental Europe Dominique Casimir. "Crucially, we have found in [Undercover founder and CEO] Michael Schacke and his team a partner who shares our values."

Schacke and his 30-person team will stay on board through the acquisition. Founded in 1991, the Braunschweig-based company promotes more than 200 concerts in Germany per year, and also brokers tours and festivals for both domestic and international artists throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

"Discussions about a partnership with BMG commenced long before the coronavirus pandemic, but we are now perfectly set up for when the market returns," Schacke added. "There is a significant opportunity for us working together to offer a genuine alternative for artists in Germany and beyond, building on Undercover’s established recipe of 'live entertainment and artist partnership.'"

The new unit will also collaborate with BMG shareholder Bertelsmann's other content divisions in Germany, which include broadcaster RTL, book publisher Penguin Random House and magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr. Those divisions fall under the banner of the Bertelsmann Content Alliance, of which Casimir is also a board member.

"Artists want partners who build their business around them rather than the other way around. Above all, this means offering the best possible service," added BMG managing director GSA Maximillian Kolb. "The German music market has proven to be extremely adaptable and is one of the strongest in the world, especially in the live segment. I am very happy that we have become the first territory within BMG to be able to offer a complete service portfolio to artists including live."

Founded in 2008 with a focus on fairness and transparency in the music industry, BMG now has 19 offices across 12 music markets, representing more than 3 million songs and recordings and thousands of artists, with clients including Frank Ocean, John Legend, David Bowie, Tame Impala, Fergie and more.