Warner Music Group Invests in Croatian Label Dancing Bear

Warner Music Group takes minority stake in Croatian music company Dancing Bear Music
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Warner Music Group takes minority stake in Croatian music company Dancing Bear Music
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Photo Credit: Warner Music Group

Warner Music Group has announced it has taken a minority stake in the independent Croatian music company Dancing Bear Music. Here’s the latest.

The deal will enable Dancing Bear’s recorded music artists to tap into the infrastructure of ADA, Warner Music’s global distribution and label services arm. They will also have the opportunity to upstream and sign to Warner Music’s global roster. This deal also sees a renewal of the licensing agreement covering Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and North Macedonia.

Warner Music has worked closely with Dancing Bear for almost 30 years, with Dancing Bear acting as Warner Music’s licensee in Croatia since 1996. Sister company Dancing Bear Publishing also acts as the local representative of Warner Chappell Music—the music publishing arm of Warner Music Group.

Dancing Bear was founded in 1990 and is one of the longest standing and leading record companies in Croatia. The label has released music from some of the country and region’s most important artists, including Dalmatino, Dino Dvornik, Daleka Obala, Darko Rundek, Hladno Pivo, Kojoti, Kawasaki 3P, Zdenka Kovačiček, Goribor, Vlado Kalember & Srebrna Krila, Alen Vitasović, Ibrica Jusić, Majke, Gustafi, The Bambi Molesters, and Baba Yaga.

Several releases by these artists are deemed to be some of the most significant and iconic records in Croatian and regional music history, and their success has helped shape the growth of the industry there over the last four decades. Some of Dancing Bear’s past releases and artists, such as The Bambi Molesters and The Strange, have reached fans beyond the region and achieved international success.

The label’s biggest act is Dalmatino, the band founded by Ivo Jagnjić and Zdravko Sunara in 1998. With decades of support from Dancing Bear, the band has amassed more than 250 million streams and regularly outsells the world’s biggest artists in Croatia, across both digital and physical formats. Dancing Bear has successfully tapped into the now established local streaming market, but also continues to celebrate the cherished traditional mediums of vinyl and CDs, offering a variety of domestic and international records through its multiple shops across the country.

“This investment by Warner Music is a vote of confidence in the future of music from the West Balkans,” adds Silvije Varga, Co-Founder & Managing Director of Dancing Bear. “We look forward to working together to take music from our existing roster to the wider world, and to uncover the next generation of local talent.”

“I’m so pleased we’re expanding our agreement with Dancing Bear, which has an incredible reputation in the region as a key industry player,” adds Izabela Ciszek-Podziemska, General Manager of Warner Music South East Europe. “We’re already working on joint releases in the EDM space and plan to expand our collaboration in the months ahead.”

This move marks the latest expansion of Warner Music in South East Europe, following the launch of EDM label Balkan Electro in April 2024. Warner Music also acquired a minority stake in Slovenian independent label NIKA in March 2024; and the purchase of a minority stake in Serbian label Mascom in October 2022.