BMG Acquires Further Stake in Iconic ‘99 Luftballons’ by Nena

BMG Acquires Further Stake in 99 Luftballoons
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BMG Acquires Further Stake in 99 Luftballoons
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Photo Credit: Jim Rakete

BMG acquires a further stake in the iconic 1980s hit, Nena’s ‘99 Luftballons,’ the highest-charting German language hit in the US to date.

BMG announces further strengthening its interest in the German New Wave (Neue Deutsche Welle) band Nena’s catalog, including the worldwide hit “99 Luftballons.” The track remains the highest-charting German language hit in the US, 40 years after its release.

BMG has acquired the singer Nena’s US recording copyright and ROW artist royalties, in addition to three band members’ artist shares, adding to its existing shares in the catalog. This makes BMG’s 27th music rights acquisition this year alone.

“99 Luftballons” became an unprecedented German language hit in 1983 and 1984, only a couple years after the band formed in then-West Berlin at the height of the Neue Deutsche Welle movement. The song reached No. 1 in nine countries and reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The next year, the English-language version, “99 Red Balloons,” hit No. 1 in the UK and Canada.

With music by Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen and lyrics by Carlo Karges, the song tells the story of a cloud of 99 red balloons being mistaken for UFOs and inadvertently setting off a cataclysmic war — resonating powerfully with a Cold War audience. These days, the song has been streamed nearly 400 million times on Spotify alone.

“Nena’s journey with ‘99 Luftballons’ has been a remarkable one, and we are thrilled with BMG’s investment in the band’s catalog,” said the band in a statement. “This song has been a symbol of peace across borders, and we look forward to seeing it continue to resonate with audiences around the world. BMG’s commitment to preserving and promoting our musical legacy aligns perfectly with the spirit of ‘99 Luftballons.’”

“We could not pass up the opportunity to increase our stake in one of the most iconic catalogs in German music and a rare German language international hit,” adds Maximilian Kolb, EP of Repertoire & Marketing, Continental Europe, BMG. “‘99 Luftballons’ really is a genuine classic.”

Nena was founded in 1982 in Berlin, comprising the eponymous singer, Rolf Brendel on drums, Carlos Karges on guitar, Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen on keyboards, and Jürgen Dehmel on bass. The band broke up in 1987, and Nena pursued a solo career.

BMG has released four Nena solo albums: Made in Germany (2009), Made in Germany – Live (2010), Du Bist Gut (2012), and Oldschool (2015). Tickets are on sale now for her 2024 tour through Germany, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, France, and Switzerland, “Wir Gehören Zusammen” (We Belong Together.)