Warner Music Group has acquired Sweden-based digital compilation company X5 Music Group.
Last month, the CEO of Warner Music Group confirmed his company’s growing control over streaming playlists. That renewed fears of an upcoming era of playlist ‘playola,’ with three major labels controlling critical lists on platforms like Spotify. “In the past it was about radio play, weekly charts and sales — now it’s a minute-by-minute battle for people’s time and attention,” WMG chief Stephen Cooper told Billboard.
“So playlisting is one of the big reasons why artists need record labels today.”
Now, Warner is consolidating its stronghold with the purchase of a leading playlist expert. X5, a company that first cut its teeth on iTunes, is an independent, digital-only playlisting label first founded in 2003. Initially, the company licensed and curated classical repertoire, including successful playlisting around recognizable melodies and composers.
These days, the company specializes in licensing pre-existing music for compilation albums and genre-specific music to create playlists across streaming and download services, with a knack for drawing greater listening around well-crafted lists. The company’s management team is currently led by CEO and co-founder Johan Lagerlof ,who will continue to manage the company even after the acquisition. “Our business is to increase the value of catalog music by putting it in the right context,” Lagerlof relayed. “We are excited to be working with the amazing catalog of Warner Music Group and look forward to harnessing our scalable business model to increase its value.”
Though Lagerlof is still leading the company ,it will be overseen by Warner Music’s Tim Fraser-Harding, president of global catalog and recorded music. “X5 is an incredibly exciting company that has done great things in the digital space… this team, led by Johan, has an impressive ability to curate specific genres of music and create engaging and accessible digital products and playlists,” said Fraser-Harding.
“We hope to help X5 grow its business in the years ahead and believe that we in turn will benefit hugely from its experience.”
As of yet their have been no financial details disclosed, though it is thought that Warner Music Group may have scooped them up for a low price tag. Once upon a time, X5 had a pile of funding, with nearly $22 million according to Crunchbase. Despite that sizable funding, a fresh round hasn’t come in since 2011, with industry chatter focused on the company’s rough existence.