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BMG acquires German promoter Undercover

The recorded music powerhouse is making its first move in live, taking a majority stake in Undercover, one of the leading promoters in northern Germany

By IQ on 21 Oct 2020

L–R: Kolb (BMG), Schacke (Undercover) and Casimir (BMG)

L–R: Kolb, Schacke and Casimir

BMG Rights Management, the Berlin-based record label and music publisher, is entering the live business for the first time with the acquisition of a majority stake in promoter/event production firm Undercover.

Brunswick-based Undercover, which usually promotes in excess of 200 concerts and shows annually, will form the basis for a new live music and events business unit within BMG in Germany. The company also serves a tour agent, brokering tours and festivals for national and international artists across Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GSA), and develops and produces its own touring formats.

Undercover CEO Michael Shacke and his team of 30 will remain in place following the acquisition, the terms of which were not disclosed and which is expected to close by the end of this month.

The deal, says BMG, means that, in addition to “releasing recordings and publishing songs, BMG can now offer artists an integrated tour promotion and ticketing service” on an opt-in basis.

“An important part of our job will be to form a centre of excellence for events”

Dominique Casimir, BMG’s EVP of repertoire and marketing for continental Europe, says: “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 centre of it all. Crucially, we have found in Michael Schacke and his team a partner who shares our values.”

“I founded this company in 1991 to be able to perform with my band, and that’s how I became a promoter. This idea has since grown into a nationwide concert agency with over 30 employees,” adds Schacke. “Discussions about a partnership with BMG commenced long before the coronavirus pandemic, but we are now perfectly set up for when the market returns.

“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 acquisition comes during a time of upheaval in the Covid-hit German live music market, and follows the launch of new promoter DreamHaus – also based in Berlin, and staffed with a number of former Live Nation Germany employees – last week.

Maximillian Kolb, managing director of BMG GSA, says: “Artists want partners who build their business around them, rather than the other way around. Above all, this means offering the best possible service.

“Moving into live is the logical extension of BMG’s plan to integrate all the services an artist could need”

“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.”

Launched in 2008 as the successor to Sony BMG, BMG Rights Management – owned by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann – represents artists including Iron Maiden, John Legend, Bring Me the Horizon, Bloc Party, Alt-J, Tame Impala, Morrissey, MIA, Frank Ocean, Jess Glynne, David Crosby and Kylie Minogue for label services and/or publishing.

Undercover will form part of a network of Bertelsmann brands, the Bertelsmann Content Alliance, which also includes broadcaster RTL, book publisher Penguin Random House and magazine publishing Gruner and Jahr (Stern, Capital, Geo).

Casimir, who is also a board member of the Bertelsmann Content Alliance, explains: “An important part of our job will be, together with the Undercover team, to form a centre of excellence for events within the Content Alliance. We look forward to working with the other divisions and together adding even more value to our artists and media brands by creating bespoke live experiences.”


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