BMG wants to be more than the world’s fourth biggest music publisher. It’s also investing heavily into film to include feature-length documentaries, narrative features, concert films, and scripted and reality-style series among its stable of ventures.
The company already has the support of the film industry. It’s first ever feature-length documentary – Bad Reputation, a film on Joan Jett – has been confirmed to make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The big screen debut sees BMG as both financier and executive producer of the film.
Bad Reputation precedes another three feature-length music documentaries in production. They are:
- The Show’s The Thing (working title) – A documentary about the legendary promoters and agents who built the rock concert touring business. From a “wild west” culture in the ‘60s to a corporate take-over in the ‘90s, this story celebrates a little-known chapter of rock history. Executive Producers David Simone, Steve Martin and Winston Simone. Directed by Molly Bernstein and Philip Dolin.
- The Children of The Revolution – A documentary film celebrating the music of T. Rex with a behind-the-scenes immersion into the making of a new album featuring Marc Bolan’s songs. Produced by Bill Curbishley and Ethan Silverman.
- Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records (working title) – Produced by Pulse Films, directed by Nicolas Jack Davies – a celebration of the music, history and cultural legacy of the pioneering British record label instrumental in introducing ska, rocksteady and reggae to a global audience (Jimmy Cliff, Toots And The Maytals, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s The Upsetters) to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Trojan Records, whose catalogue is owned by BMG.
BMG SVP, Justus Haerder, has been leading BMG’s move into film and TV since 2014
Haerder’s four-person team includes: Director, Audiovisual, Kathy Rivkin-Daum; Senior Manager, Audiovisual, William Kennedy; SVP, Audiovisual, Joe Thomas; and longtime industry veteran Bob Frank.
Haerder said: “We have been pretty successful so far in keeping BMG’s strategic move into audiovisual production under wraps. Bad Reputation being selected for Sundance kind of blows the lid on that, but we are incredibly excited and proud.”
BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said the move into film is undoubtedly strategic: “From YouTube to the rise of the music documentary to the increasing emphasis of Spotify and Apple Music on video content, technology is transforming music into a visual medium. These are early days, but increasingly we expect video content to develop into a formidable addition to BMG’s strategic offering to artists and songwriters alongside music publishing and recordings.”
BMG opened an Australian office in March 2016 and with managing director Heath Johns at the helm, it has grown to feature an indomitable roster of artists including The Living End, The Potbelleez, Peking Duk and Wolfmother. Just three months into existence, the local company acquired legendary, 131-year-old publisher J Albert & Son Pty Ltd, taking in the rights of music icons like Easybeats, AC/DC, John Paul Young and Rose Tattoo, and contemporary artists Josh Pyke, Urthboy, the Cat Empire and San Cisco, among others.