The most successful artist most Americans have never heard of has just extended her deal with Universal Music Germany.
At a virtual presentation today, Frank Briegmann, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophone, announced that the company would extend its deal with Helene Fischer, the pop-schlager singer who is one of the biggest artists in Germany. The announcement described the deal as long-term.
Fischer has sold 16.3 million albums, counting equivalent streams and downloads, many of them as CDs, which still sell well in Germany. As of 2018, she had scored the top-selling album in the market for five of the previous six years. To get a better sense of how popular she is, though, remember that Germany has a population of 83 million – about a quarter that of the U.S. – and the German-speaking market is roughly 100 million. Fischer also hosts in Die Helene Fischer Show, an annual Christmas program on the German public television network ZDF.
Fischer’s new album, Rausch, is due out Oct. 15, and the first single, “Vamos a Marte” – Spanish for “let’s go to Mars” – is a duet with the Puerto Rican star Luis Fonsi, who is signed to Universal Music Latin Entertainment. (The song, which blends schlager and Latin elements, is in German and Spanish.) The two have already performed together – once at a German awards show, and once on Fischer’s Christmas show, where they sang “Despacito.”
Fischer makes music that falls loosely into the genre of schlager – the world literally translates as “hit” – a form of mainstream European pop that’s popular in central Europe. In its sentimental lyrics and broad appeal, it’s a bit like mainstream country music, albeit with very different instrumentation. For the past decade, Fischer has been the genre’s reigning queen, and she’s broadened her appeal by making music with a more current sound and sensibility. Some critics have compared her pop makeover of an older genre to Taylor Swift’s. Fischer is glitzier, though: Her most recent tour was designed by a division of Cirque du Soleil.
Fischer built her career on EMI Records, where she signed in 2005, but she became a superstar after EMI merged with Universal, where she works closely with Briegmann and Tom Bohne, the company’s president of domestic music. Her 2013 song “Atemlos durch die Nacht” – “breathless through the night” – on the album Farbenspiel became the most downloaded song in German history, as well as one of the biggest hits in the history of the country’s music business. Fischer’s self-titled 2017 album, her most recent, was the most popular in Germany in both that year and the following one.