BMG acquires German indie label Telamo to gain control of the local Schlager market

BMG is growing its share of the world’s fourth-largest music market by acquiring German independent powerhouse Telamo, the country’s largest indie imprint and market leader in Schlager music, a form of easy-listening Europop.

Berlin-based BMG did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, which Austria’s federal competition authority still needs to approve before it can be implemented. BMG says it is the company’s largest label investment since it was acquired Nashville-based BBR Music Group in 2017. That deal was worth about $100 million, according to sources at the time.

In 2021, BMG generated revenues of €40 million ($40.6 million) in Germany across its recorded music and publishing divisions, according to parent company Bertelsmann’s year-end financial report, with recordings accounting for about half of the total. Billboard understands that the acquisition of Telamo will roughly double BMG’s recorded music revenues in its home market.

Germany’s recorded music market grew by 12.6% to $1.6 billion in 2021, maintaining its long-standing position as the world’s fourth largest recorded music market and second largest in Europe after the UK, according to IFPI’s Global Music Report 2022.

BMG’s chief content officer Dominique Casimir says the deal to buy Telamo “redraws the map of the German music industry, creating a new force outside the traditional business.”

Founded in 2012 and with offices in Munich and Berlin, Telamo specializes in schlager music, a kitsch and sentimental style of mainstream pop – often described as Germany’s answer to country music – which is hugely popular in Germany and parts of Central Europe and often represented at Eurovision Song Contest. According to analysis by the German music industry trade group BVMI, Schlager is the second most popular genre in Germany after pop-rock, with a market share of 15%.

This week the veteran Schlager performs Die Amigoswhich is signed to Telamo, is at No. 1 on the official German album chart with Liebe Siegt – the duo’s 14th leader. Another Telamo artist, Eric Philippi, is currently number two on TikTok Germany’s Hot 5 chart and is “Hot Artist Of The Week” with his single “Schockverliebt.”

Other top selling Schlager/Deutschpop artists signed to Telamo include Giovanni ZarrellaEloy de Jong, Marianne Rosenberg, Ross Antony, Thomas Anders & Florian Silbereisen, Daniela Alfinito and Fantasy.

BMG says its acquisition of Telamo will increase the company’s share of Germany’s recorded music market to around 8.5%, based on the latest market data from German music industry publication MusikWoche. The deal also includes the digital brand Schlager für Alle, which acts as an online community for fans of the genre and has over 1.7 million users via its Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok channels.

Telamo’s 29 employees and co-founder/CEO Ken Otremba will remain with the company after the acquisition, BMG says. Telamo’s other co-founders, Kathleen Herrmann and Marko Wünschwill continue to act as consultants for the brand.

“Over the past 10 years, Telamo has skillfully brought Schlager into the digital age,” he says Maximilian Kolb, BMG’s executive VP of repertoire and marketing on the European continent. Bringing the label into BMG and the wider Bertelsmann group, which also includes broadcaster RTL Group and book publisher Penguin Random House, will open up new opportunities for Telamo’s artists and “have a big impact on the German-language music market,” he says.

“There is an understanding that the only international music company owned and managed from Germany is committed to Schlager’s future in the streaming age,” says Kolb Billboard. “But also that we commit to doing it with exactly the same respect for artists that we apply to any genre.”

The Austrian Federal Competition Authority is expected to issue its decision on the acquisition before the end of the month.

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