HAMBURG — German collection society GEMA today acquired a majority stake in Zebralution GmbH, a Berlin-based digital distribution company. The acquisition allows GEMA to expand its performance portfolio and continue to develop its digital services and technologies. Zebralution will operate as an independent business under the GEMA umbrella.
"By taking a stake in Zebralution, GEMA has made a targeted investment that secures its future viability," said Dr. Harald Heker, GEMA's CEO. "Through Zebralution, we will also be able to support our members in the digital distribution of their musical works. GEMA’s relevance in the digital music market will thus be significantly increased."
Added Kurt Thielen, co-founder and MD of Zebralution: "We are very pleased to have found an ideal and extremely strong partner in GEMA. This also bridges a gap for musicians and performers, with the joint objective of achieving fair remuneration for creatives."
Founded in 2004, Zebralution currently has a portfolio of more than 1,000 labels and audio book publishers from all over the world. GEMA represents the copyrights of more than 74,000 members, among them composers, lyricists and music publishers, and more than two million copyright owners worldwide.
In addition to the formation of the international joint-venture ICE and the expansion of its range of digital services, the acquisition of a majority stake in Zebralution is the next strategic step for GEMA towards growth and digitization.
"In Zebralution, we have the right partner at our side to expand GEMA’s digital reach and unlock new income sources for our members over the long term," said Dr Heker. "In future, musicians will be able to release their music to a wide range of digital music providers through GEMA and Zebralution."
Zebralution distributes audio content other than music. Zebra-audio.net, a subsidiary, specialises in distributing and marketing podcasts.
"The importance of podcasts and audio books has grown massively in the past few years," said Sascha Lazimbat, a co-founder and MD of Zebralution. "Audio as a content format is a growth market whose enormous possibilities are far from exhausted."
Zebralution will operate as an independent business under the GEMA umbrella. Zebralution's former owners, Kurt Thielen, Christof Ellinghaus, Sascha Lazimbat and Konrad von Löhneysen, will remain involved in the business as shareholders. Thielen as well as Lazimbat will continue as managing directors.