How BMG Is Blurring The Lines Between A Recorded And Live Music Company
Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images – LP performs in Madrid
US singer Laura Pergolizzi, known as LP, performs on stage during Las Noches Del Botanico at the Royal Botanical Garden of Alfonso XIII on July 17, 2019 in Madrid, Spain
BMG just appointed a senior recorded music exec in Latin America, Andreas Katsambas, who said live formed a big part of his strategy when breaking artists.
Andreas Katsambas used to serve as BMG’s SVP Global Recordings in the U.S., where he was responsible for overseeing marketing campaigns for both inbound/outbound international recordings including highly successful releases by Morrissey, The Cranberries, Marianne Faithfull, Lenny Kravitz, Dido, Kylie Minogue, Perry Farrell, and Lil Dicky, among others.
The role exposed him to many markets. One thing that stood out to Katsambas was the fact that a lot of BMG’s artists spiked in Latin America.
– Andreas Katsambas
BMG’s EVP, Latin America and Canada
“LP was an artist that really stood out to me early on,” he told Pollstar, “and I realized that, one, management really made an effort to get LP some exposure in those markets, but after I got involved, and helped find some partners and we started providing label services to her, she got offered to play one of the biggest radio festivals in Mexico.”
LP is represented by WME’s Brian Edelman, and promoted by Ocesa, which just got acquired by Live Nation. Ocesa subsidiary Seitrack is BMG’s label partner in Latin America.
The festival in question, Impulso Alfa En Vivo, was staged in December 2018 by Alfa Radio, one of the countries biggest radio stations for Anglo-type music. “They offered her a really good slot, even though she wasn’t a big name in Mexico yet,” Katsambas recalled.
The gig made an impression. When she returned to Mexico four months later to perform at Viva Latino festival in March, she caused a frenzy at the airport. According to Katsambas, “it got so crazy when she landed, they had to shut down the airport. There were so may fans, we had to hire airport security and private cars just to pick her up.”
The shows led to more offers. An initial Oct. 21 gig at the 3,500-capacity Auditorio BlackBerry sold out within hours, leading to two more dates being added, Oct. 22-23.
“We got offers from Guadalajara and Monterrey. Argentina came with an offer, Ecuador, Peru, all those markets. We were able to get her to announce a full-fledged South American tour, and most of the dates sold within a matter of hours or days,” said Katsambas, adding, “it’s unbelievable to see how, if you come in to the market and get exposure, especially by preforming live, it just makes a huge difference.”
LP’s South American run begins Oct. 6 at the 4,500-capacity Teatro Royal Center in Bogota, Colombia, which is already sold out. In many instances, the artist is playing bigger venues than on her 2019 European and North American legs, where she’s been selling out, or almost selling out, 1,500 to 3,000 capacity spaces.
She for instance sold out 2,828 tickets for her March 10 show at the Fox Theatre in Oakland, CA, grossing $77,770 according to Pollstar box office reports. She also sold all 2,425 tickets to her Feb. 18 gig at the House of Blues in Boston, MA, grossing $62,405. Her Feb. 11 show at MTELUS in Montreal, Canada, sold out 2,250 tickets, grossing $59,859.
While the well-known streaming platforms like Tik Tok, Spotify and Youtube are as popular in South America as anywhere else, the number of people paying for monthly premium subscriptions is still comparatively low. And it’s the premium subscriptions that generate the most revenue for artists.
It was therefore “very key to help an artist be able to create live opportunities, either shows or festivals or whatever. That’s how they’ll be able to sustain their careers,” said Katsambas, who thinks that the live and recorded sides of this business have never complemented each other more.
“Everything helps with awareness and exposure. I can use a live opportunity as a marketing variable in developing the artist career. I don’t subscribe to the separation anymore. To me it’s like, what can I do to help the artist break in the market? And sometimes it’s through Youtube or Tik Tok or streaming, which then allows us to get touring opportunities or a festival. Sometimes it’s the other way round. Both are key, and both are integral in the success of the artist in those regions,” he explained.
Right now, Katsambas is focused on building infrastructure in the top markets, which includes Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru, and making sure all of BMG’s artists have the opportunity to get exposure and tap into the market through promo and live. “Once we covered that I would like to explore finding new talent in those market as well,” he explained.
Being a division of the worldwide operating media, services and education company Bertelsmann. As such, it can offer its artists access to publishing, offer them book deals, TV shows, label services and distribution. Said Katsambas: “With BMG, all those barriers have broken down. And now I’m using that mentality to expand to live opportunities.”