Plans change. Dinner, vacation, date night… leadership transitions at music companies. BMG announced Wednesday it is shortening its long-term succession plan for longtime CEO Hartwig Masuch, with Thomas Coesfeld, the company’s chief financial officer, assuming the role July 1 instead of New Year’s Day.
The Bertelsmann-owned company said Masuch is leaving “at his own request and on the best of mutual terms,” with the longtime CEO explaining the handover between Coesfeld and himself has “gone so smoothly” that he decided to move up his exit date by a six months. (In January, Masuch, 69, explained that he wanted to retire before turning 70.)
Masuch will remain in an advisory role after the transition until 2026, the company said.
“Hartwig has written many chapters in BMG’s success story, which Thomas will now continue,” said Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe in making the updated announcement, adding that “as CFO, he got to know BMG well, drove forward its digital orientation, and invested considerable funds in the acquisition of music rights. I am certain that BMG will continue to grow under [his] leadership.”
Coesfeld was named deputy CFO at BMG in October 2021 before taking over as CFO the following spring. He previously served as chief strategy officer on the executive committee of the Bertelsmann Printing Group, a division of BMG’s parent company Bertelsmann. He began his career in 2014 as a management consultant at McKinsey in Munich.
Upon taking the top office at BMG, Coesfeld will also become a member of Bertelsmann’s Group Management Committee (GMC), which advises the Group Executive Board.
Replacing Coesfeld as CFO will be Mathis Wolter, who joins from Bertelsmann-owned RTL Group, where he has been senior vice president of controlling and investment for over three years. Prior to that, Coesfeld was svp of controlling and reporting at BMG. Joining Coesfeld and Wolter on the BMG Executive Board will be Sebastian Hentzschel (promoted from chief technology officer to chief operations officer), Dominique Casimir (chief content officer) and Nikola Holle-Spiegel (chief human resources officer).
Also joining BMG’s top management team is Alberto Chullen Llamas, arriving from Bertelsmann Education Group to be executive vp of investments to focus on future catalog acquisitions at the label. “After 45 acquisitions in 2022 alone, acquisitions remain central to BMG’s growth into 2023 and beyond,” said Coesfeld. “We are delighted to have secured the services of such a heavy-hitter as Alberto from within the Bertelsmann family, and one who knows BMG well.”
Coesfeld added, “We have a strong team at the helm of BMG… Together we will drive the company’s progress, and I very much look forward to working with them all. I would like to thank Hartwig Masuch for handing over a company which is both highly creative and successful. Hartwig’s clear focus on building a company which works for artists and songwriters has resulted in a globally relevant music company which has redefined what a music company can be in the streaming age.”
Masuch joined Bertelsmann in 1991, overseeing Germany, Switzerland and Austria as part of BMG Music Publishing’s first incarnation. In 2008, he advised Bertelsmann when the company sold its share of Sony BMG Music Entertainment to Sony in 2008, and soon, helped start BMG Rights Management — which later became BMG.
Under Masuch’s leadership, BMG has grown to be the fourth-biggest recorded music and publishing company in terms of revenue, trailing only the three majors. In recent years, BMG has acquired music rights from Peter Frampton, Harry Nilsson, Simple Minds, Tina Turner and Mötley Crüe, among others, and through a partnership with KKR the company has acquired catalogs from John Legend and ZZ Top. On the label side, BMG has signed Duran Duran, Santana, Bryan Adams, Maxwell and Louis Tomlinson. BMG has also moved into the live business, first by acquiring a majority stake in German live music promoter Undercover GmbH in 2020 and later with a similar alliance with KARO Konzert-Agentur Rothenburg GmbH, the organizer of the German Taubertal-Festival. The company also oversees Berlin’s historic 1,600-capacity Theater des Westens.
“BMG has set sales records in recent months, signed outstanding artists, acquired iconic music rights catalogs and developed new lines of business,” Hartwig said. “The values of transparency, service, and fairness are now an inseparable part of what has become the company’s DNA, much respected by the entire music industry. So I’m leaving on a high note – and in the firm conviction that with Thomas Coesfeld and his management team, a new generation will successfully lead the music company into a new era.”