, Musikwelt

GEMA acquires majority stake in Zebralution and strengthens its position in the growing digital market for music, podcasts and audio books

By acquiring a stake in Zebralution, GEMA becomes one of the first collective manage-ment organisations in the world to secure commercial participation in a growth segment of the music market. The acquisition allows GEMA to expand its performance portfolio and continue to develop its digital services and technologies. Zebralution will operate as an independent business under the GEMA umbrella.

GEMA today acquired a majority stake in Zebralution GmbH, an innovative and commercially successful digital distribution company in the music industry. Founded in 2004, the Berlin-based company was the first digital distributor for independent labels in Europe. It currently has a portfolio of more than 1,000 labels and audio book publishers from all over the world. GEMA is a leading global collective management organisation for music. It represents the copyright of more than 74,000 members, among them composers, lyricists and music publishers, and more than two million copyright owners worldwide.

“By taking a stake in Zebralution, GEMA has made a targeted investment that secures its future viability,” says Dr Harald Heker, GEMA's CEO. “Through Zebralution, we will also be able to support our members in the digital distribution of their musical works. GEMA’s relevance in the digital music market will thus be significantly increased.”

“We are very pleased to have found an ideal and extremely strong partner in GEMA,” says Kurt Thielen, founder and MD of Zebralution. “This also bridges a gap for musicians and performers, with the joint objective of achieving fair remuneration for creatives.”

Strategic step towards growth and digitisation

Further to the formation of the international joint-venture ICE and the expansion of its range of digital services, the acquisition of a majority stake in Zebralution is the next strategic step for GEMA towards growth and digitisation.

“In Zebralution, we have the right partner at our side to expand GEMA’s digital reach and unlock new income sources for our members over the long term,” says Dr Heker. “In future, musicians will be able to release their music to a wide range of digital music providers through GEMA and Zebralution.”

Podcasts and audio books are a growth market

Alongside the digital distribution of music, Zebralution also distributes other audio content. Zebra-audio.net, a subsidiary specifically founded for this purpose, specialises in distributing and marketing podcasts.

“The importance of podcasts and audio books has grown massively in the past few years,” says Sascha Lazimbat, also founder and MD of Zebralution. “Audio as a content format is a growth market whose enormous possibilities are far from exhausted.”

Zebralution retains its independence

Zebralution will operate as an independent business under the GEMA umbrella. Zebralution's former owners, Kurt Thielen, Christof Ellinghaus, Sascha Lazimbat and Konrad von Löhneysen, will remain involved in the business as shareholders. Mr Thielen as well as Mr Lazimbat will continue their successful work as managing directors.

“GEMA has full confidence in the dynamic and professional team that has developed Zebralution into a profitable distributor of digital content with an international profile,” says Dr Heker. “We are looking forward to a successful collaboration.”