Universal Music International has purchased Koch Music, the European recorded music and music publishing arm of the Koch Group. According to a statement released by Koch, the sale will not affect Koch’s American companies. Both New York-based Koch Entertainment and Port Washington- and Toronto-based Koch International “remain under their present ownership and retain their full independence.”
Michael Koch, CEO Koch Entertainment and Koch International, tried to calm any unease on this side of the Atlantic. “My father has decided to diversify his holdings and sold the music company he founded 27 years ago in Austria. The American companies have always been run separately and independently of the European operations. I look forward to continuing to build what I have set out to do when I came to America 16 years ago.”
According to the company, Koch International is the largest independent music distributor in the U.S. as well as Canada and its record company group, Koch Entertainment, now holds a leading market position. However, even before the European sale was announced, the mood was tense in the US. Koch’s American companies have laid off 30 percent of its workforce since November, according one Koch employee who asked not to be named. “And with the industry the way it is, we’re prepared for more,” the staffer acknowledged. “We’re just waiting. It’s really all we can do.” Donald Elfman, director of Koch Jazz, was fired last week and just what will happen to that label remains to be seen.
The acquisition of Koch Music, considered the leading independent and second largest record company for German language repertoire, expands Universal Music’s market reach. Tim Renner, Chairman and CEO, Universal Music Germany and Vico Antippas, President Germany, Switzerland & Austria will now take the reigns at Koch Music.
Renner pointed out: “Traditional popular music, in a word light music, was the last segment in which Universal Music Germany was not the market leader. This was something we were trying to rectify, because it is a real growth segment, and with the acquisition of Koch Music we have now achieved market leadership in that segment as well.”
After 26 years at the helm, Franz Koch, founder and CEO of Koch, will now become a member of the supervisory board of Universal Germany. He commented, “I am delighted to bring Koch Music into the Universal Music fold. This vote of confidence by the leading music company is not only gratifying, but will allow us to further strengthen our market position and ensure a bright future for our artists and writers.”
The company anticipates that it “will continue to operate under the Koch name and labels” and “that the majority of members of staff will remain with the acquired operations.”