Come June 1 2005, the five majors on the Norwegian market are reduced to four. The recent EU approval of the Sony BMG merger is expected to result in substantial reshufflings, lay-offs and a new corporate landscape.
Much speculation preceded the announcement of Lena Midtveit as the new managing director of the merged Sony and BMG. Some had anticipated that Sony Norway’s long-standing director Rune Hagberg, who’s been with the company since the early 70s, would be chosen to lead the new major. As it turned out, the younger Midtveit from the smaller BMG Norway was given the vote of confidence and is now set to be Sony BMG Norway’s managing director from next summer on. Hagberg will remain in office for a transitional period, but will eventually leave the company after a few months.
Lena Midtveit has served as a BMG employee since 1993 when she was appointed royalty/copyright manager. During her stay with BMG, Midtveit has held positions as Head of Marketing and managing director. The Idol TV-show has firmly established BMG and Midtveit (who served as a panel judge on the show) in the public mind – a success story that culminated with Kurt Nilsen winning the World Idol final earlier this year.
Says the newly appointed Managing Director: “I’m thrilled. It’ll be a major challenge to lead the Norwegian branch of what will be one of the world’s biggest record companies.”
It is expected that the merger will result in a reduction of administration with lay-offs being considered unavoidable. It is also expected that some domestic artists will have their recording contracts terminated, as happened when EMI and Virgin joined some two years ago. The two companies employ currently 44 persons and it is widely expected that the number will have to be reduced to less than 30 in order to keep up with the competition from the other majors. Midtveith has as of yet declined to comment on upcoming lay-offs and reduction of the company’s artist roster.
Says Maarten Steinkamp Continental Europe executive in the Sony BMG management group on the announcement of new leaders for the Nordic territories: “I am delighted to announce these key appointments. The Nordic territories have great potential for many international as well as local artists and the combined roster of Sony and BMG holds tremendous promise for these markets. I am confident that the strong backgrounds, relationships in the industry, talent and leadership skills that Lena, Per Sundin, Henrik Daldorph and Kimmo Valtanen bring to Sony BMG will make us an industry leader in the Nordic territories."
Based on 2003 figures, Sony/BMG is set to take a 21,5 % stake of the Norwegian market. Last year, Universal Norway held a 23,1% stake of the market while EMI Recorded music’s share was 22,7. This will result in Warner being the kid-brother among the Norwegian multi-nationals with its 11,6 share of the market (2003).
The combined 2003 turnover for Sony and BMG amounted to NOK 244,4m ($ 36,8m / € 29,77m).
Key Norwegian acts on the Sony BMG include internationally renowned names such as Maria Mena, Amulet, Xploding Plastix, Kurt Nilsen and Gluecifer as well as major domestic successes such as Bjørn Eidsvåg, The Idol-artists and Vidar Vang.