BMG Acquires BBR Music Group
BMG has set a new milestone in its company history with the biggest single acquisition in the recordings business since its launch in 2008: The Nashville-based independent powerhouse BBR Music Group (BBRMG), including its associated labels Broken Bow Records, Stoney Creek Records, Wheelhouse Records, Red Bow Records, and its music publishing company Magic Mustang Music, are now part of BMG and hence of Bertelsmann. As the music company announced yesterday, the agreement includes the rights to a number of major country artists including Jason Aldean, Trace Adkins, Dustin Lynch, Randy Houser, Thompson Square and many others.
The deal gives BMG a significant position in the Country “capital” of Nashville, Tennessee – and promises a number of benefits to BBRMG and BMG-signed artists and songwriters. BBRMG clients will have a greatly enhanced international scope as they are plugged into BMG’s global platform and BMG recording artists will gain a significant new marketing resource.
#1 digital selling male Country artist of all time
Since its formation by its current President & CEO Benny Brown in 1997, the BBR Music Group has become one of the most successful independent music companies in Nashville and the broader U.S. music industry. Artists signed with the company have scored seven multi-platinum or platinum albums, 19 multi-platinum or platinum singles and 32 number one airplay singles across eight different artists.
Jason Aldean alone has sold over 14 million albums including 18 Number One Country Singles and seven platinum or multi-platinum albums, including 2016’s “They Don’t Know,” which hit Number One on the Billboard 200, US Top Independent Albums and Country Albums charts. Aldean remains the Recording Industry Association of America’s #1 digital selling male Country artist of all time. Additionally, BBR Music Group artists have received 129 award show nominations and 32 wins to-date. BBR Music Group’s publishing company Magic Mustang Music has achieved 23 Country Airplay Awards, six #1 singles and was named SESAC’s “Publisher of the Year” for three consecutive years – becoming the only independent music publisher to ever achieve this feat.
The announcement indicates that BBRMG will continue to operate from its Nashville headquarters, and all of its 48 staff will transfer to BMG. The acquisition considerably strengthens BMG’s position in the U.S. recorded-music market – the company already has recording operations in Los Angeles, which has released U.S. Number One albums by Janet Jackson (2015) and Blink-182’s Grammy-nominated California (2016); New York – home to a roster including pop sensation Andy Grammar and Number One Christian artist Danny Gokey; and Portland, Oregon, where rock label Rise Records’ roster includes PVRIS and At The Drive-In.
BBRMG founder Benny Brown and CFO Paul Brown will remain as consultants to the business following the deal, while all existing staff remain in their positions, reporting directly to Executive Vice President Jon Loba. Loba will report to BMG US President Repertoire & Marketing Zach Katz.
“A phenomenally successful operation”
BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said, “BBR Music Group is a phenomenally successful operation whose philosophy and commitment to its artists fit perfectly with the new BMG. I have a huge respect for what Benny and his team have achieved. The combination of BBR and BMG gives artists and songwriters in Nashville and beyond a new route to the worldwide market. We will be the alternative so many artists are looking for.”
Benny Brown said: “Since 2001 I’ve been approached many times by various major labels wanting to purchase us. The most important thing to me has always been my artists, my employees and my songwriters. They have always been my family and after meeting with Hartwig and Zach, I knew that I’d found the right partners to ensure my family stayed together and to also continue the BBR Music Group legacy. We were one of the very first indie labels to ever break through in Country music. Because of that we created a different culture within our walls that’s pretty simple – happy people are productive people. That’s always been important to me and that’s also the way Hartwig and Zach run BMG. I knew they shared my vision and my passion and that’s what made this the right fit.”
“Plugged into a proven global platform”
Jon Loba added: “Benny has been approached countless times about selling, but it took a very special company comprised of very special people for Benny to make this move. We couldn’t be more excited about joining BMG. Its culture aligns so closely with the core values the BBR Music Group was built on. BMG respects our heritage, but this is also about the future. Being part of BMG family will afford our artists, songwriters and staff incredible new opportunities. Beginning today, for the first time we are plugged into a proven global platform committed to delivering for artists and songwriters. We can’t wait to get started.”
Zach Katz said: "I want to pay tribute to what Benny and his team have created. It is truly exemplary. Nashville and its culture are such an integral part of the music industry that it was always only a matter of time before we expanded our presence. Never did we imagine that we would be able to do so with such an extraordinary roster of artists and team members. I am confident that together BMG and BBR Music Group will offer an unbeatable combination for artists and songwriters."
A return to the Nashville record business
The acquisition of BBR Music Group marks the return to the Nashville record business of BMG after an eight-year absence. The first incarnation of BMG acquired RCA Records, including its Nashville operation in 1986, enjoying success with artists including Clint Black, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood and numerous others. RCA became part of the Sony-BMG joint venture in 2004, before parent company Bertelsmann sold its stake in the joint venture in 2008 to launch the new BMG with an innovative artist-friendly business model which brings music publishing and recordings together under one roof.
The new BMG launched its successful Nashville-based music publishing operation in 2009. In his role overseeing Nashville operations, EVP Kos Weaver has developed a diverse roster that includes Alabama, Brett Beavers, busbee, Danny Gokey, Hillary Lindsey, Buddy Miller, and John Paul White. Said Weaver, “The BBR Music Group folks are not only close neighbors of BMG here in Nashville, they share a similar approach in their philosophy and relationships with their artists. This is an amazing match; our potential together is enormous.”