Dhis sight is impressive. Doreen Schimk and Fabian Drebes know this very well. They therefore lead first to the narrow balcony of the impressive brick building in Hamburg’s warehouse district, where the headquarters of Warner Music for the German-speaking region is located. There are worse places, but it’s not just the view of the Elbphilharmonie that keeps the duo from thinking about moving to the neighborhood of their big rivals Sony and Universal Music.
“We are in Berlin every week and there we exchange ideas with our teams and our partners,” explains Schimk. “Hamburg-Berlin as a route is no longer a problem today, and with hybrid work models even more flexibility is possible anyway. Berlin is an extremely international and creative city, adds Drebes. But sometimes one has the impression “that all German artists frolic in Berlin, and that they come from all parts of the country. Germany is very decentralized, and that also applies to the music scene. With DJ star Robin Schulz, one of Warner’s most successful local artists comes from Osnabrück, for example.
“The Metaverse is not future, it is present.”
On October 1 of last year, Schimk and Drebes jointly took over the management of the Speicherstadt. They form the first double management in Germany with a “major”, as the three global music giants are also called. Schimk is also the first woman in this role. The duo took over from Bernd Dopp, who had run Warner Music in German-speaking countries since 2004. Big steps, with Dopp handling change well, as the two point out. They are still in weekly contact with their former boss, who now acts as an advisor. Nevertheless, they attach great importance to wanting to shape a new style.
“We aim to really live the issues of parity and diversity, and this also applies to our management team,” says Schimk. These are “visible things and not just nice announcements”. After about seven months, she draws a positive conclusion for the Doppelspitze project, which does not always work everywhere: “We are very lucky to complement each other fantastically. We also recognized that clear role assignments are important and that we too need to live in a culture of open feedback. »
While Drebes focuses on repertoire marketing and the areas of law and finance, Schimk is in charge of human resources and issues such as brand partnerships or business transformation. “We did not directly present a new finished structure, but rather took our time and made it clear in discussions with our management: this will not be a frontal teaching in the future, everyone should contribute to shaping the change”, explains Drebes. “For Coldplay, for example, global cooperations on the topic of sustainability have been concluded with BMW or SAP for the team tour.”
Universal, Sony and Warner dominate
In the core business, the situation is in any case rosy. Warner said goodbye to Dopp in reference to “the most successful year in company history”. The German music recording market recently grew by 10%, mainly thanks to streaming. After a turnover of 1.96 billion euros in 2021, crossing the two billion mark is only a matter of form. According to the specialist website Music & Copyright, Warner held a global market share of 16.7% in the music recording sector in 2021 – behind Sony Music (21.7%) and Universal (32%).