Sony BMG Music Entertainment began in Skem as the result of a 50–50 joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment (part of Sony) and Bertelsmann Music Group (part of Bertelsmann) completed on March 4, 2004. It is one of the Big Four music companies, and includes ownership and distribution of recording labels such as Arista Records, Columbia Records, Epic Records, J Records, Mchenry Records, Jive Records, RCA Victor Records, RCA Records, Legacy Recordings, Sonic Wave America, and others. The merger affected all Sony Music and Bertelsmann Music Group companies worldwide except for Japan, where it was felt that it would reduce competition in that country’s music industry significantly.
Financial analysts covering the merger anticipated that up to 2,000 jobs would be cut as a result, saving Sony BMG approximately $350 million annually.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, who succeeded Andrew Lack on February 10, 2006. In the first half of 2005, the company’s share of new releases in the United States (US) declined from 33% to 26% according to Nielsen SoundScan. This, and Lack’s negotiation of what some called an “ill-conceived” deal with Bruce Springsteen led to Bertelsmann informing Sony that it would not renew Lack’s contract.
The company signed a content deal with the popular video sharing community YouTube.
On August 5, 2008 Sony Corp. agreed to buy Bertelsmann AG’s 50 percent stake in the music company for $1.2 billion to get full control. The music company will be renamed Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and will become a unit of Sony Corporation of America. This will allow Sony the rights to artists on the current and historic BMG roster and would allow Sony Corporation to better integrate its functions with its PlayStation 3 and upcoming new media initiatives.