On May 26, the US-based Warner Music Group (WMG) announced that its Polish subsidiary has finalized its acquisition of Polskie Nagrania ‘MUZA’, Poland’s longest-running record company. Polskie Nagrania was previously owned by the Polish government, which offered the label up for auction in January of this year after having declared bankruptcy in March 2010.
The Polskie Nagrania ‘MUZA’ catalog is one of the country’s most celebrated collections of pop, rock, folk, classical, and jazz, from the 1950s to the present day. The deal includes music from acclaimed artists such as Anna German, Czesław Niemen, Marek Grechuta, Irena Santor, Zdzisława Sośnicka, Breakout, and SBB, as well as world-renowned classical musicians like Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Wojciech Kilar, and conductors Antoni Wit and Jacek Kacprzyk.
Warner Music Poland has committed to preserving the prestigious Polskie Nagrania brand and continuing to release music from the label’s extensive roster. In addition, following the digitization of the entire catalog, the original master tapes will be returned to the Polish National Digital Archive for preservation.
According to the external news service of Polskie Radio:
The takeover, which is billed at PLN 8 million and which went ahead in January this year, will see Warner acquire some 36,000 Polskie Nagrania recordings made since the label’s inception in the 1950s.
“This transaction is a significant step in the development of our activity,” said CEO and Director General of Warner Music Poland Piotr Kabaj.
“It is a great honour for us that we should represent such noteworthy artists and take care of such an impressive catalogue,” he added, going on to say that “we intend to do everything so that the historic label of Polskie Nagrania will live on and that these legendary recordings will gain new fans in Poland and abroad”.
Ahead of the sale, however, protests in Warsaw and Poznań raised voices against the sale of Polskie Nagrania.
Around 100 artists and representatives of the arts handed over a petition to the Culture Ministry as well as the Treasury Ministry and Parliamentary Speaker demanding public disclosure on the label’s bankruptcy and the “future fate” of the company.
The acquisition of Polskie Nagrania by Warner Music Poland “is one of a few similar endeavours undertaken recently by Warner Music Group in emerging markets,” the statement reads, citing the takeover of the Parlophone Music Group in July 2013, which made Warner Music Group the owner of EMI subsidiaries in key markets in the CEE region, including Poland.