Does the teen pop boom still have $3 billion worth of life left in it? So it would seem, given the purchase price of Zomba, the recording company behind Britney Spears, ‘N Sync, and Backstreet Boys, which announced Tuesday it was selling out to music giant Bertelsmann. Media multinational Bertelsmann, whose BMG is one of the big five music conglomerates (it’s the parent company of Arista and J Records and home to such artists as Alicia Keys, Pink, and Whitney Houston), already owned a fraction of Zomba’s record and music publishing divisions. That purchase, made 12 years ago, gave Zomba the option of selling the rest of the company to BMG, and its decision to exercise that option now means BMG will have to cough up $3 billion, Reuters reports.
For its outlay, BMG will get to unite Zomba artists like Britney, Mystikal, Michael Bolton, and blues legend Buddy Guy under one roof with its own artists like Keys and Pink. Left unanswered is whether BMG will also get Clive Calder, the Zomba chief who founded the company 27 years ago and helped discover its top acts. If Calder leaves after the buyout, BMG could lose the ear behind Zomba’s success and be left with little but a roster of artists who may have peaked and a library of soon-to-be-dated disposable pop songs.
On the other hand, Zomba could boost BMG’s market share (its share is the smallest of the big five) and continue to be a profit center. ”Over the years, I have admired Zomba’s impressive results, which are perhaps the most spectacular in the industry,” Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff said in a statement. ”We are very excited about its future prospects and it will definitely strengthen our music business.”