BMG gives musicians something to sing about

About BMG

Artists and songwriters don’t work for BMG, BMG works for them. With its distinctive service ethic and commitment to transparency, the global music company operates in the traditionally separate music publishing and recordings markets off the same integrated platform.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: Germany

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Rackspace Technology

Rackspace Technology is an end-to-end multicloud tech services firm that partners with clients across their cloud journey, enabling them to modernize apps, build new products, and adopt innovative technologies.

BMG moves its entire managed data center infrastructure to Google Cloud and makes royalty processing faster and more efficient for artists and songwriters using Google BigQuery and Dataproc.

Google Cloud results

  • Streamlines royalties for digital music, processing 1,500x more data by autoscaling with BigQuery
  • Reduces income tracking IT workloads by 75% by making data more accessible across the business
  • Delivers new features faster by reducing deployment from weeks to minutes with Google Kubernetes Engine
  • Boosts employee satisfaction and productivity, empowering teams to work more independently by democratizing the data with Data Catalog

Further strengthening BMG’s service for artists and songwriters

The music industry is rapidly changing. Only 20 years ago, the availability of music and the infrastructure that was required to make an album a sales success were incredibly complex and expensive. With the decline of physical sales and a fundamental shift to digital, music streaming now accounts for more than half of all sales globally.

At the same time, technology has democratized music-making; in many ways, it has made the musical landscape more diverse. Artists can upload their music with the click of a button. But while it’s easier for creators to share their songs with audiences, getting paid has become more fragmented.

Although music is booming, people no longer buy it outright. Instead, listeners download music digitally or subscribe to streaming services to have their libraries with them at all times. To monetize digital content effectively, artists need to know when, where, and how often their songs are played on each service. To help them navigate this complicated royalties landscape and maximize their profits, Berlin-based international music company BMG provides customized, transparent, and fair services to songwriters and artists.

With publishing and recording divisions under one roof, the subsidiary of international media giant Bertelsmann works with both emerging artists and established stars, including John Legend, Kylie Minogue, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards. With the MyBMG web and mobile application, clients can view and analyze their royalty details in real time and collect payment. When a new record is released, BMG uses data to maximize its impact and revenue for its creators.

“We make sure that everyone who uses our clients’ music knows who needs to be paid the associated royalties, then we collect these royalties and share them out quickly and transparently,” explains Sebastian Hentzschel, Chief Information Officer at BMG. “When our artists release new music, we make sure that it’s marketed and promoted effectively around the world.”

“We needed a scalable solution for our royalty workloads that was intuitive for our developers. We also wanted a partner, not a client-vendor relationship. With autoscaling via BigQuery, excellent customer support, and a clean and simple user interface, Google Cloud ticks every box for us.”

Gaurav Mittal, Vice President Group Technology, BMG

Getting up to speed with a new way of paying artists

In this digital world, artists aren’t just paid every time a fan buys an album—they’re paid a small amount, or royalty, for each song downloaded or streamed by a listener. So, when the industry shifted to digital, the volume of data that BMG needed to handle grew exponentially. “One CD sale is equivalent to about 1,500 streamed songs or plays,” says Gaurav Mittal, Vice President Group Technology at BMG. “That means IT departments have to process 1,500 times the amount of data to calculate payments for artists, and this makes scalable micropayment processing very important.”

Until 2019, BMG’s infrastructure was entirely hosted on-premises. Hardware limitations made it challenging to scale on-demand, making it harder to handle the data peaks that royalty processing can bring. “With our on-premises infrastructure, we were going to hit a ceiling in a few years,” says Gaurav. “We still managed to process royalty payments for our clients, but it was increasingly time consuming and expensive. To keep focusing on our clients, rather than our infrastructure, we decided to migrate to Google Cloud.”

From the outset, Gaurav and his team had a clear vision for the partnership: “Most importantly, we needed a scalable solution for our royalty workloads that was intuitive for our developers. We also wanted a partner, not a client-vendor relationship,” he says. “With autoscaling via BigQuery, excellent customer support, and a clean and simple user interface, Google Cloud ticks every box for us.”

Keeping artists happy with business-as-usual payouts during migration

To move applications to the cloud while keeping payment cycles on track for its artists, BMG teamed up with Google Cloud partner Rackspace Technology. “We selected Rackspace Technology because it combines strong technical muscle and a global footprint, with the customer service of a local boutique firm,“ shares Gaurav.

BMG’s own technology team put together the outline for the Google Cloud architecture, which they passed on to Rackspace Technology for optimizations and the ultimate stamp of approval. Whenever Gaurav and his developers needed support, Rackspace Technology was ready to go. “So far, we’ve migrated 17 applications successfully, and Rackspace Technology has been 100% spot-on with each suggestion,” says Gaurav. “I can’t recall a single flaw in a Rackspace Technology-approved architecture, and that really says something.”

When BMG began its migration in August 2019, the team developed an ambitious two-year plan. Only 14 months later, however, the project is more than 75% complete. Among the solutions that BMG is using today are Cloud Storage to securely store 130 TB of data, and Cloud SQL as its standard database technology. The web applications run on Compute Engine, App Engine, and Google Kubernetes Engine.

“After successfully moving a few applications, it was clear that with the strong teamwork of BMG and Rackspace Technology, together with the ease of use of Google Cloud, we could speed up the project without sacrificing quality,” says Gaurav. “We’re set to complete our migration six months before schedule, helping us to quickly move out of our hybrid environment.”

“Our income-tracking teams are very savvy on the data, and the simplicity of Google Cloud empowers them to self-serve analytics, rather than wait for IT. Our teams are much more productive.”

Gaurav Mittal, Vice President Group Technology at BMG

Royalty reporting and processing with BigQuery and Dataproc

So far, all of BMG’s critical workloads are up and running on Google Cloud. Royalty calculations, for example, which require incredible processing power and the collection of many micropayments to ensure full and timely payout, run entirely on Dataproc with output stored on BigQuery for downstream integration and reporting.

Enabling more harmonious workflows through self-serve analytics

As the new beating heart of BMG’s royalty reporting, BigQuery changed the rhythm of collaboration company-wide. In the past, income tracking teams had to contact IT departments if they needed deeper data insights for their work. By integrating Data Catalog with BigQuery, BMG has made the data more accessible to all teams. This helps them detect missing income and new revenue streams independently, maximizing profits for artists.

“Our income-tracking teams are very savvy on the data, and the simplicity of Google Cloud empowers them to self-serve analytics, rather than wait for IT,” says Gaurav. “Our teams are much more productive.”

“Google Cloud enables us to be more client focused and deliver better features faster. We believe it’s just the beginning. We offer rights and royalty services for music publishing, recorded music, neighboring rights, and books. Without scalability limitations, it’s absolutely conceivable to offer our platform as a service to other companies or industries, such as gaming. Google Cloud has opened a world of possibilities.”

Sebastian Hentzschel, Chief Information Officer, BMG

With a leaner IT environment, BMG can focus its effort on the needs of its clients. Beyond improvements in royalty processing, it can concentrate on app development, releasing new features and enhancements more frequently. By hosting applications on Google Kubernetes Engine, App Engine, and Compute Engine, BMG has built a CI/CD pipeline with automated deployments and testing to significantly speed up workflows.

“In our old system, it could take several weeks to set up an environment,” says Gaurav. “With Google Kubernetes Engine, any of our developers can complete the process in a few clicks. Having that autonomy makes our developers more motivated and self-driven.”

“Google Cloud enables us to be more client focused and deliver better features faster,” adds Sebastian. “We believe it’s just the beginning. We offer rights and royalty services for music publishing, recorded music, neighboring rights, and books. Without scalability limitations, it’s absolutely conceivable to offer our platform as a service to other companies or industries, such as gaming. Google Cloud has opened a world of possibilities.”

With the migration almost complete, BMG is looking forward to its next technology project. It plans to leverage AutoML to further scale and automate royalty tracking with machine learning. On the marketing side, advanced analytics will help BMG determine the effectiveness of promotional campaigns around the world, further increasing profits for artists. By connecting Google Data Studio to BigQuery, BMG will increase the quality of its analyses, helping musicians better understand the reach of their music around the world.

In the end, Gaurav shares, helping musicians is what it all comes down to. “We’re a new kind of music company because we build our services around our artist, songwriter, and publisher clients, not the other way around,” he says. “Google Cloud is helping us maintain strong relationships with our clients, and that’s music to our ears.”

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About BMG

Artists and songwriters don’t work for BMG, BMG works for them. With its distinctive service ethic and commitment to transparency, the global music company operates in the traditionally separate music publishing and recordings markets off the same integrated platform.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: Germany

About Rackspace Technology

Rackspace Technology is an end-to-end multicloud tech services firm that partners with clients across their cloud journey, enabling them to modernize apps, build new products, and adopt innovative technologies.