LONDON — BMG’s revenues jumped 11.5% to 414 million euros ($450 million) in the first half of 2023, fueled by strong growth in the company’s publishing business and a number of high-profile acquisitions, including a major interest in Paul Simon‘s portion of the Simon & Garfunkel catalog and a deal for George Harrison’s solo recordings.
The record label and publisher’s operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were up 23% (on a constant currency basis) to 90 million euros ($98 million) at the mid-year point ended June 30, according to figures released Wednesday Aug. 30 by BMG’s German parent company Bertelsmann.
Classic songs from Blondie, Kurt Cobain, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – coupled with hit releases by contemporary artists like Lewis Capaldi and Austrian rapper RAF Camora — helped drive the company’s 62% of revenues that come from publishing. That equates to around 257 million euros ($280 million) by Billboard’s calculation (the company didn’t break out revenue numbers).
Recorded music represented 34% of revenue (around $152 million) with Jelly Roll, Kylie Minogue, Godsmack and Rita Ora among BMG’s top-selling recording artists. Among its most listened-to catalog titles were tracks by Motley Crue, Black Sabbath and George Harrison.
In total, BMG said its digital businesses accounted for 63% of revenue, down from 69% in the first half of the previous year. The company said the decrease was due to higher digital revenues being offset by stronger growth in live revenues, driven by a post-pandemic surge in touring.
BMG CEO Thomas Coesfeld, who took over from longstanding chief executive Hartwig Masuch July 1, said the double-digit percentage growth reflected the company’s “strong performance in the face of an increasingly tough market.”
“Against the background of a soft advertising market, a maturing subscription streaming business and a physical music market impacted by inflation-driven cost increases, this is a very positive result,” said Coesfeld in a statement.
Breaking down the revenues on a regional basis, the U.S. was BMG’s biggest market, generating 217 million euros ($236 million), a rise of £14 million euros ($15 million) on the first half of 2022. Germany was BMG’s second biggest market with revenues of 49 million euros ($53 million), followed by the United Kingdom, which brought in 42 million ($46 million).
BMG completed 15 acquisitions in the six-month reporting period, including a deal for Paul Simon’s royalty and neighboring rights income to the full recorded Simon & Garfunkel catalog. Other deals closed in the first half of this year included the acquisition of the song catalog of 1960s British band The Hollies and a share of the writer’s royalties from the heavily synced German Eurodance group SNAP!
In February, BMG reached an agreement with Dark Horse Records over George Harrison’s solo works, marking the first time that the former Beatle’s recorded and publishing rights have sat together under the same roof. To commemorate Harrison’s Feb. 25 birthday, Dark Horse and BMG released Harrison’s entire catalog in Dolby Atmos surround sound exclusively on Apple Music.
Alongside BMG, Bertelsmann’s media holdings include RTL Group, Penguin Random House and service provider Arvato. Bertelsmann reported total revenue of 9.7 billion euros ($10.6 billion) for the first six months of the year, up 4.5% on the previous year. Organic revenue growth was 2.3%.
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