BMG Is No Longer Delineating Between Catalog Music and Newer ‘Frontline’ Releases: ‘Great Artists and Great Music Have No Expiry Date’

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BMG EVP of global repertoire Fred Casimir, who’s now set to lead an approximately 90-person team responsible for marketing both catalog works and new releases. Photo Credit: Julia Schoierer/BMG

Amid the continued streaming and sync popularity of catalog music – referring to projects that debuted at least 18 months ago – BMG has announced that it will “abandon the outdated industry distinction” between the works and newer “frontline” releases.

The Bertelsmann subsidiary unveiled plans to “integrate its new release and catalog recordings businesses” via a formal release today. Notwithstanding the considerable number of new tracks that become available to fans daily, data has long reflected the prevalence of catalog music, which reportedly accounts for some 70 percent of consumption in the States.

And it’s against this backdrop that a number of businesses have in recent years poured substantial sums into music IP; Pimco– and KKR-partnered BMG dropped north of $400 million on song rights during 2022 alone, according to its parent’s earnings report. Moreover, the entity last year finalized deals with “What Is Love” artist Haddaway, “Show Me the Way” singer-songwriter Peter Frampton, and John Legend, to name a few.

Bearing in mind these points, BMG says it’s “become the first global music company to abandon” the existing classification system and begin grouping catalog and frontline recordings together in a single unit.

Effective immediately, the Berlin-headquartered business’s “recorded catalog will now report locally as per its country of origin,” with EVP of global repertoire Fred Casimir then overseeing an approximately 90-person team while handling worldwide reporting on the catalog side “for all sales outside the owning territory.” This is, BMG emphasized, “exactly the same structure” used “for new so-called ‘frontline’ recordings.”

In an internally circulated (and publicly published) letter to employees, outgoing BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch highlighted the executive-responsibility implications of the pivot, which could potentially ripple to other music companies moving forward.

“This marks a significant expansion of Fred’s responsibilities,” 68-year-old Masuch communicated, “and is a reflection of the success of the global frontline marketing team he created in 2018. He will now in addition be responsible for the global catalog marketing team and the London-based global licensing hub.

“It also means that on a local level, our repertoire leaders – Thomas Scherer in LA, Alistair Norbury in London etc – will uniquely in the music industry oversee music publishing and frontline and catalog recordings in their local territories,” proceeded the Hagen native, whose company’s bestselling albums of 2022 included works from Jason Aldean, Bryan Adams, Mötley Crüe, and the Backstreet Boys.

And in comments of his own, Casimir relayed: “There’s no great secret to BMG’s success. It’s about wrapping ourselves around artists’ needs and adjusting to the realities of the streaming world. Successful music catalogues deserve the same effort, commitment and passion as newer recordings. I am delighted to take on responsibility for marketing BMG’s recorded catalogue.”