BMG Nears $1 Billion in 2023 Revenues on Catalog Deals, Publishing Business

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BMG reported record high revenues of 905 million euros ($998 million) in 2023 as catalog acquisitions and growth in its publishing division from hit songs and albums by Bebe Rexha, the Rolling Stones and Lewis Capaldi contributed to 5.7% in organic revenue growth.

Operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) adjusted — BMG’s preferred metric for profit — was flat at 194 million euros ($214 million, based on the foreign exchange rate as of Dec. 31, 2023) compared to last year’s 195 million euros ($208 million, based on the year-end foreign exchange rate), as the German-owned music company incorporates a slew of changes introduced by new chief executive Thomas Coesfeld. Coesfeld said his strategy is improving revenue and operating EBITDA going forward, two metrics the company said have risen by roughly a third from 2021 to 2023.

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“Many of these changes are having an immediate impact,” Coesfeld said in a letter to staff viewed by Billboard. “In the first two months of 2024 we have already seen a strong double-digit increase in revenue and an increase in EBITDA versus prior year.”

Since Coesfeld took the helm in mid-2023, BMG announced a plan to take over digital sales of its artists’ music, a new physical distribution deal with UMG and increased investments in technology for a new client-facing mobile app, improved data analytics and speedier processing of royalties.

Catalog acquisitions have been a key component of Coesfeld’s contributions since he became BMG’s chief financial officer in 2021. Backed by the deep pockets of its parent company, the European media conglomerate Bertelsmann, BMG continued its steady pace of buying in 2023 with 30 catalog acquisitions, including those by The Hollies, Jet, Dope Lemon, Martin Solveig and Paul Simon’s music interests in Simon & Garfunkel’s recordings.

Major hits for the publishing division in 2023 included “I’m Good (Blue),” co-written by Bebe Rexha, and “Boy’s A Liar Pt. 2,” by BMG songwriter Mura Masa and performed by Pink Pantheress and Ice Spice, and the release of Hackney Diamonds by the Rolling Stones and Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent by Capaldi.

Country music was a big driver for BMG’s label business in 2023 thanks to Jason Aldean‘s “Try That In A Small Town,” which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart during the first week of August, and three country chart-topping hits from Jelly Roll, including “Save Me,” recorded with Lainey Wilson, another of BMG’s country stars.

Here are some of BMG’s 2023 highlights:

  • Operating EBITDA adjusted remained stable at 194 million euros ($214 million) from the previous year of 195 million euros ($208 million).

  • From 2021 to 2023, revenue has risen by more than 36% and operating EBITDA adjusted has risen by more than 34%.

  • EBITDA margin was 21.4 percent compared to the previous year of 22.5%.

  • BMG made 30 catalog acquisitions in 2023.

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