LONDON — Warner Music Group has acquired Slovakian entertainment company Forza Music, growing its footprint in one of the fastest growing markets in central Europe.
Forza Music was founded in 1994, is the second largest label in the country after Universal and owns the catalog of OPUS, Slovakia’s former state-run record company, which produced the vast majority of the country’s music releases from the 1960s to the 1990s.
IFPI’s latest Global Music Report ranks Slovakia as the 50th biggest in the world, with music sales totaling $14.3 million in 2018, up 8.4% on the previous year. Streaming accounted for 33% of those sales. Physical made up 19% and the lion’s share (46%) came from performance rights and sync. The biggest selling album of 2018 in Slovakia was Ed Sheeran’s Divide, followed by the A Star Is Born soundtrack.
Following its acquisition, Warner Music will now revive the OPUS brand as a frontline label in Slovakia, focusing on pop, rock and children’s repertoire and headed by local record producer and Forza CEO Julius Kincek.
One of Kincek’s first duties will be getting the full OPUS catalog on all streaming services and growing sales for well-known local artists Collegium Musicum, Karol Ducho?, Marika Gombitová and Team. Other acts signed to Forza Music, which has acted as Warner Music’s licensee in Slovakia for a number of years, include punk rock group Iné Kafe and electronic pop act Senzus.
The full OPUS catalog consists of hundreds of albums with more than 250 actively exploited at the moment. Warner intends to steadily increase this number in the months and years ahead. Financial terms for the deal were not revealed.
“I’m delighted that we’re able to bring Forza Music into the Warner family and relaunch the legendary OPUS brand,” said Warner Music Czech Republic managing director Vladimir Ko?andrle in a statement.
Prior to joining WMG in 2013, Ko?andrle was head of EMI Czech Republic, which came under wing of Warner as part of its deal for the Parlophone Label Group. Since then, he’s signed dozens of Czech and Slovak stars including rock band Kabát, pop rock group Kryštof and Czech singer-songwriter Daniel Landa, growing the major’s share of the domestic market.
“We’ve performed extremely strongly in the Czech Republic and Slovakia under Vladimir’s leadership,” said Alfonso Perez-Soto, EVP, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa in a statement. He went on to say that the acquisition of Fonza Music cemented a “unique link between Warner Music and Slovakia” and was “just the latest step in our strategy of expanding Warner Music’s footprint in emerging markets around the world.”