BMG Acquiring German Indie Label Telamo to Gain Control of 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 biggest indie imprint and market leader in Schlager music, a form of easy listening Europop.

Berlin-based BMG did not reveal financial terms of the deal, which the Austrian Federal Competition Authority still needs to approve before it can be completed. BMG says it is the company’s largest label investment since it acquired Nashville-based BBR Music Group in 2017. That deal was worth around $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 around half of that total. Billboard understands the acquisition of Telamo will roughly double BMG’s recorded music revenues in its home market.

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

BMG’s chief content officer Dominique Casimir says the agreement to acquire 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 – that is hugely popular in Germany and parts of Central Europe and frequently represented at the Eurovision Song Contest. According to analysis by Germany music industry trade group BVMI, Schlager is the second-most popular genre in Germany after pop-rock with a 15% market share.

This week, veteran Schlager act Die Amigos, who are signed to Telamo, are at No. 1 on the Official German albums 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 big-selling Schlager/Deutschpop artists signed to Telamo include Giovanni Zarrella, Eloy de Jong, Marianne Rosenberg, Ross Antony, Thomas Anders & Florian Silbereisen, Daniela Alfinito and Fantasy.

BMG says its acquisition of Telamo will grow the company’s share of Germany’s recorded music market to around 8.5%, based on the latest market data from German music trade 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/managing director Ken Otremba will remain with the company following the acquisition, says BMG. Telamo’s other co-founders, Kathleen Herrmann and Marko Wünsch, will continue to act as consultants for the label.

“Over the course of the past 10 years, Telamo has skillfully taken Schlager into the digital age,” says Maximilian Kolb, BMG’s executive VP of repertoire and marketing in continental Europe. 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 major impact on the German language music market,” he says.

“There’s an appreciation that the only international music company owned and managed from Germany is committing to the future of Schlager in the streaming age,” Kolb tells Billboard. “But also, that we commit to do so with exactly the same respect for artists we apply to every genre.”

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