A management change is imminent at the fourth largest music company in the world.

On January 1, 2024, the previous CFO of the Bertelsmann music division (BMG), Thomas Coesfeld, will take over the top position from long-time chairman Hartwig Masuch.

As the Bertelsmann Group announced on Monday, the change was taking place "as part of long-term succession planning".

BMG was re-established in 2008 under the direction of Masuch after Bertelsmann had previously withdrawn from the music business and today ranks right behind the market leaders Warner, Sony and Universal Music, which are known as the majors, in terms of sales.

Benjamin Fisher

Editor in Business.

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"Hartwig Masuch shaped the music business at Bertelsmann and far beyond for more than three decades," Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe is quoted as saying in the statement.

With Coesfeld's promotion, "the next phase of BMG is now being initiated." In his previous role as CFO, he had consistently advanced the company's digital orientation and implemented Bertelsmann's "Boost" investment strategy together with Masuch.

As part of "Boost", BMG has "high investment funds available".

Bertelsmann had recently used this for various catalog purchases and the takeover of the hit label Telamo.

BMG took over more than 30 rights packages in 2022, including shares in the work of Simple Minds or Peter Frampton and Jean-Michel Jarre.

In 2021, BMG caused a stir in the competitive catalog market with deals worth millions with Tina Turner or Mötley-Crüe.

Since March 2021 there has also been a loose partnership for joint catalog acquisition with financial investor KKR.

Close partnership with financial investor

Both parties know each other well.

By March 2013, the investment company helped rebuild the music arm and held 51 percent of the shares.

So far, two rights packages – from John Legend and ZZ Top – have been acquired as part of the new collaboration, although by no means every catalog deal is made public.

In any case, the line is close, every other day he talks to people from the financial investor, Masuch told the FAZ in February 2022

In contrast to some other buyers, BMG is still very busy despite the recent rise in interest rates.

"We have also been active on the acquisition side up to the last week, while some competitors are understandably having a hard time," Masuch told the FAZ in December last year - and referred to the group's support for the strategy: "It's natural a difference whether I can fall back on group capital or have to finance myself in some other way.”

As CFO, Coesfeld should not only be well informed in the field of catalog deals, but also with regard to the complicated and diverse contract structures in the music industry.

The 32-year-old manager has held this post since April 2021.

Previously, Coesfeld was a member of the management of the Bertelsmann Printing Group and Chief Strategy Officer of Mohn Media in Gütersloh.

Before joining Bertelsmann, he worked for the management consultancy McKinsey.

Masuch will remain with BMG as an advisor

Coesfeld is a grandson of company patriarch Reinhard Mohn.

Like his brother Carsten, who is three years his senior, he belongs to the family of Reinhard Mohn's first wife.

As head of Bertelsmann Investments, Carsten Coesfeld is also part of the top management of the media group and sits on the Group Management Committee (GMC), which advises the board of the media group on questions of strategy and group development.

Thomas Coesfeld will soon be represented here as BMG boss.

He hardly lacks Bertelsmann experience.

Of course, Coesfeld has not yet had many years in the music industry.

However, he is not alone at the head of a large music company.

While market leader Universal and global number two, Sony Music, are run by Lucian Grainge and Rob Stringer - two British industry veterans - Warner Music has just acquired Robert Kyncl.

From February, the former Netflix and YouTube manager will succeed Steve Cooper, who led Warner for many years and was also not previously active in the music industry.

Masuch's resume is more similar to that of Grainge and Stringer.

Born in Hagen, he was once part of a punk rock band – just like Bertelsmann boss Rabe.

He later founded his own publishing house and produced, for example, the Neue Deutsche Welle hit “Hurra, hurra, die Schule brennt”.

After a stint at the Warner publishing house, he came to Bertelsmann in 1991 and didn't quite leave the media group at the turn of the year.

He will remain on board as a consultant.