CMM's history is a long story for sure. Stretching over the past three decades – if not more –, it has been an adventure since day one.
From now on, we'll keep you up to date with annual recaps. Now new: 2021! :)
2021: A Year in Review
Another couple of months of the pandemic are behind us during which the situation seemed to be starting to ease up a bit. Concerts took place (even if on a smaller scale), clubs opened cautiously and there was a general feeling of hope for some semblance of normalcy. We’d like to take advantage of the upcoming break (courtesy of Christmas and the fourth wave) to take a look back at this past year in the CMM network.
We did it again! After a month-long teaser campaign and treasure hunt for clues regarding a possible new Iron Maiden album, German PR powered by CMM continued strong for the band’s 17th album (and the first in 6 years) Senjutsu. After a promising launch on September 3rd, the transatlantic mega team of Parlophone/Warner, Phantom Music and CMM made #1 on the German album charts once more! Better yet: Even this late in the year, Senjutsu took that position with the strongest overall unit sales during launch week. And with the exciting narrative gaining further traction in German television shows Titel, Thesen, Temperamente (ARD)and Volle Kanne! (ZDF) featuring a documentary and thoughtful interviews with Bruce Dickinson, chances are that Senjutsu will follow in the footsteps of every single Maiden album we’ve taken care of for the Germany territory since Brave New World, and bring home gold pretty soon. Congrats everyone, it’s been a real blast once again!
And since at the end of the day we at CMM are fans, too, we’re all the more eager to finally experience all the new songs live. Looking forward to hopefully seeing the band back on tour in 2022!
We can hardly believe it’s already been over a year and a half since EMP and CMM have partnered up, but it’s been a great time! With fiscal year 2021 out, the PR and copywriting team at CMM is looking back on more than 19 fast-paced, intense and tremendously exciting months of consulting, story-building and problem solving – all based on a heartfelt partnership with our friends at EMP in Lingen.
The deep dive into copywriting, copyediting and PR consulting for various collaborations and licensed IPs such as CHIEMSEE X RED, Powerwolf, Disney Princess Collection, Pokémon or EMP’s Stronger Together image film (following the social call of a dedicated collection) in Germany and the UK felt like a copywriter’s dream come true. And with the most diverse and committed narrative team we’ve ever had drawing inspiration and energy from our company’s home base Hanover, from the vibrant, ever-evolving heart of Berlin and even the beautifully rough North Sea cost – all under one firm roof, we’re now more than hyped to continue this collaboration through FY2022.
Europe’s #1 e-commerce merchandising powerhouse for music, entertainment & gaming and the true network people at CMM: Cheers to another great, adventurous year!
SAOL – Service For Artist Owned Labels
As we all know, 2020 proved to be a difficult year for physical sales with most retailers shut down and supply chains showing weak spots. Numbers have been stagnating in an otherwise declining CD market in 2021 as well but it’s not all doom and gloom. Sneaking up on the tumbling CD format and fueled by quality releases from some of SAOL’s top artists, good old vinyl year over year sales had already quadrupled even 4 months before the end of our FY2021. And to top it all off, digital turnover with SAOL is on a steep trajectory, too, already topping FY2020 by a solid 50% at midsummer. Standing shoulder to shoulder with SAOL veterans such as Zero Theorem, Seven Spires, Striker or Cripper (through their back catalogue), more and more independent artists are closing ranks in 2021 in order to get out of the biggest slump that the cultural industry has faced in recent years. SAOL A&R representative Jay Lansford about making independent deals and the new-found spirit of optimism: “It’s in the air and everybody can smell it. Up and coming artists are more than willing to go out and kick ass again. Work hard and risk going after opportunities. 14 new SAOL deals made in little over half a year just show that they’re back stronger than ever.”
TSO/Savatage consulting deal
North American Night Castle Management and CMM go way back, spanning more than 20 successful years of friendship and close collaboration. We’re happy to announce that just recently, a new consulting deal covering TSO and Savatage strategies for the European market was made. In the meantime and after having to be suspended in 2020, the 2021 TSO christmas tour got rolling in the United States. Despite its shows being subject to elaborate hygiene concepts, the tour is already a tremendous success.
With a successful test run for Popol Vuh’s vast back catalogue, CMM is now also standing by to cover BMGs specific copywriting and copyediting needs. This broadens the fruitful relationship that both our companies have, adding to catalogue and the multiple frontline activities we’ve had for Smith/Kotzen throughout the year. We’re now looking forward to more mutual endeavors getting started in early 2022.
Savatage catalog with earMUSIC
We were also sincerely proud to continue our profound friendship with cult metal formation Savatage and long lasting partnership with Edel/earMUSIC. The productive cooperation between our team in Hanover and the label in Hamburg saw the first of many LP reissues from the Savatage catalogue in July and August – with expanded artworks, detailed liner notes and, of course, all music mastered for vinyl to meet the needs of audiophile metalheads.
The first albums and an exclusive 10” Picture Disc of The Hourglass only marked the start of a whole series of re-releases. And what a start it was – with Sirens and The Dungeons Are Calling attaining #15 and #16 of the Official German Album Charts. Quite a feat for nearly 40 year old catalogue products, isn’t it? Suffice to say we are all looking forward to more of these absolute gems to come next year!
If anything, this newsletter underlines the following: Growth is happening and things are looking up. We’ve had some changes on the team, close business partners are returning with new ideas and new topics are keeping us busy with inspiring diversity. While it’s true that a number of projects that are especially dear to our team are still on hold, we’re positive that with combined efforts, getting vaxxed and remaining careful, we’ll be able to break the fourth wave and find ourselves a boat to celebrate great live-music on. We’re also rooting for our friends in the concert and festival sector. Here’s hoping that everyone will be able to get back to the thing they do best in 2022. Until then, let’s make the best of this Christmas season to recharge and relax – hopefully surrounded by loved ones and in good health. Happy Holidays and a wonderful new year full of musical adventures from my team and I!
2020: A Year in Review
At the end of 2019 we expressed our excitement for the upcoming year 2020, but little would we know about the very nature of the thrill and the constant fight against all odds we’d have to put up week by week until today. 2020 started great with a remarkable Round X of our long-time partner 70000TONS OF METAL: the cruise was yet again fully sold out, the weather at sea was splendid and the team’s zest for action a joy to behold. Awesome plans were made for the mother of all metal cruises’ next iteration just as the year in general was filled with all sorts of exciting campaign deals. Back from Miami, we were looking forward to engaging in the PR for an ambitious fair, a new festival and a fresh mix of tours and album releases.
Team CMM in full swing aboard the Independence Of The Seas
Then Covid-19 hit our dear partners and us along with them – hard. In fact, even today we don’t know which sickness it was that shook us one by one, with symptoms ranging from a minor flu up to pneumonia, in the first weeks of 2020. Medical practices wouldn’t even let people in for treatment, when these symptoms occurred. Only one thing became as clear as day: Viruses can and will cancel our plans, our projects and ultimately our culture, whenever we let them spread. So we – and that’s a big We including our friends, families and business partners – had to learn, adapt and overcome. A massive team effort. On the bright side of things: There has always been music, the good stuff that we love, enjoy and support!
Iron Maiden: A Live Album conquering #6 in German Charts
A crisis can bring the good out of people, so driven by a lot of positive thinking, the CMM team has fought back and, despite the hurdles of physical distancing, is now looking at the peak of this pandemic with the confidence of a gang of network people who are welded together even more than before the outbreak, full of vim and vigor to take the new year on and finally leave Corona behind. The ship has a few dents and cracks but the planks are shining and we’re still sailing.
Evanescence's Jen Majura and Axxis' Degi with CMM PR buffs at EMP Store Opening
Our gratitude goes out to everyone – friends, bands, clients and partners – who weathered the storm with us. Let’s take on the year 2021 together and give it the positive spin that we all deserve, Cheers to ‘21!
A huge success: 200.000 people took the chance to witness the traditional TSO Christmas Live Show from home!
2019: A Year in Review
The year started, as usual, with us working aboard 70000TONS OF METAL, The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise, after preparations over the course of the whole year. Once again, 3000 metalheads from over 70 countries, aged 1-80, had a unique 4-day party between Fort Lauderdale and Labadee, Haiti, on board a sold out luxury liner. Live world premieres, exclusive gigs and meet and greets are just some of the annual highlights when the United Nations Of Heavy Metal At Sea gather. Marketing for Europe, the coordination of press and interview scheduling before and during the cruise as well as looking after our media partners on site were, as always, in the hands of our CMM crew.
As soon as we were back, Irish speedfolk-rockers Fiddler’s Green showed us what happens when you keep true to your course for nearly 30 years and don’t compromise musically or stylistically. The reward for their 14th studio album HEYDAY, for which we did not only the album promo but also the follow-up tour promo in the GSA territories, was #7 in the German Charts. Congratulations!
Besides working with renowned bands one of our all time pleasures is providing promising projects with our years and years of experience in the storytelling and brand building sectors and see awesome ideas grow to fruition. That’s how CMM took part in 2019’s incarnation of the GoatHell Metal Fest in the highly historic city of Pula, Croatia. For the second time, metalheads settled directly between pine trees by the sea to celebrate arts, mythology and nature with 30 bands from all over Europe.
“Further accompanying” is also a great cue for the next topic: After successfully working together on their 2017 album Bad Blood Rising, Finnish hard rockers Santa Cruz once again placed their faith in us for their new album Katharsis, marking a new chapter in the history of the band after reaching two top-5-spots in their home country, opening for AC/DC as well as playing Download Festival. CMM was responsible for Europe-wide promotion in the sectors print, online and radio.
With their 4th album Zorn, Franconian rockers MAERZFELD proved once more that they’re already firmly established as an independent and autonomous factor in today’s scene. A constant series of positive reviews and the #1 position on the DAC charts months after the release are today’s testament to that. After successfully working the G/S/A-related album and tour promos, we’re eagerly anticipating the continuation of our cooperation next year with the Zorn 2020 tour, again presented by our partners Sonic Seducer and EMP.
Team CMM was present at several events and festivals this year: Reeperbahn Festival, Rockharz, Rock Hard, Wacken and Heavy Montréal. Wolfgang also was invited to musicpark Leipzig, where he held exciting presentations about self-marketing and the special traits of music marketing.
2019 was a bit like a beehive for SAOL. In April, we startet our cooperation with The Orchard as our new digital distributor. The international setup featured the Berlin-based Israeli darkfolkgothpoprock songwriter Moran Magal (Under Your Bed), while Austria put underground thrash heads Uzziel (This Fear) on the track and Canada’s contribution came in the form of Russ Bergquists aptly titled, hard rocking The Russ Bergquist Project. At the same time, Croatian melodic thrashers Arises (System) set out to make their mark on an unsuspecting world, while from the United States, the multicultural four-piece FirstBourne served us a highly energetic portion of melodic metal infused heavy rock (Pick Up The Torch). Already at the beginning of the year, Norway’s apocalyptic preachers Chontaraz had set the bar pretty high not only with their exciting album Speed The Bullet but also as live on board 70000TONS OF METAL 2019! Sunset strip legends Shark Island returned with their album Bloodline, which was released digitally on 11/11 on SAOL. The physical album release date is February 14th, 2020.
In 2020, SAOL is on board 70000TONS OF METAL again - with FirstBourne, Zero Theorem and Striker!
2018: A Year in Review
We were proud to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our label service SAOL in 2018. SAOL was invented to give uprising bands that don’t have a record deal a platform with the goal of empowering them to publish their musical vision autonomously but with professional guidance, and the result should be perceived by media just as well as a regular album release. Back in 2008, this idea was new but gained traction quickly, leading to a fair amount of similar services throughout the world. Ever since, renowned artists as well are walking the SAOL way, just in the opposite direction: They love SAOL as a safe sandbox for extraordinary projects outside the existing record deals with their main acts. One example in 2018 was former Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow, teaming up with keyboardist Jonah Weingarten for the European release of WE ARE SENTINELS via SAOL in July. Another example is the Canadian shred ensemble STRIKER who, coming from a big independent label, have put out their third (of their discography of six) albums via SAOL and landed in Europe to play their first ever fully independent dual-headliner tour on this continent in 2018. Their album Play To Win was euphorically welcomed by our media partners and made several editors charts and editors playlists in 2018. Another SAOL topic was MAD DOGS UNCHAINED, original members of Joe Cocker’s band back together as tribute act with the extremely authentic singer and Joe-impersonator Elliott Tuffin on board, releasing their first live album in 2018, along with their first European tour. SAOL was also proud to support the French experimental metal band CEILD going fully instrumental for the first time with A View as well as the innovative instrumental prog of ART AGAINST AGONY (album: Shiva Appreciation Society).
Round 8 of 70000TONS OF METAL in 2018 once more gave over 3000 metalheads the chance to experience 61 bands and 124 shows on 4 stages in 4 days on the high seas. With 75 nations on board the Independence Of The Seas metalheads could also enjoy their time on Turks and Caicos during artist guided tours by Aborted or Meshuggah and share concert experiences with Sabaton, Dark Tranquillity, Kreator, Voivod and many more. SAOL's latest symphonic metal sensation SEVEN SPIRES also made their highly acclaimed debut at sea. And SAOL’s new CHONTARAZ (from Hell, Norway) are already excited for 2019.
The fact that Iron Maiden mastermind BRUCE DICKINSON is a universal genius has been proven again and again this year. The great success of his bestseller What Does This Button Do? led to a subsequently sold out reading tour in several cities and TV appearances in coordination with CMM.
Re-releases of legendary albums by TANKARD and DEATHROW in the ingenious Noise-Revival as well as the SAXON catalog titles received attention (also due to the high quality of the vinyl and CD special editions) with the help of our promo in the German-speaking area. The catalog promo with BMG (e.g. NAZARETH, RUNNING WILD, HELLOWEEN and others) had some very successful months, some of which leading to chart entries.
Australian metalcore heavyweights PARKWAY DRIVE's successful entry into the German charts at position #3 also marks the beginning of the collaboration between CMM and Epitaph Records. Our radio promo brought the album Reverence into the rotation of all rock friendly stations, where it is still strongly represented today, a good seven weeks after the release date. In addition, CMM was responsible for the organization of the German Release Events: In May, Fans in droves were filling clubs throughout Germany just before the festival performances (incl. Rock am Ring and Rock im Park) of the Australian metalcore and celebrating the album release, that was accompanied by international magazine cover stories.
The club parties with KISSIN’ DYNAMITE in July showed similar success, as well as our second cooperation with Epitaph Records for the eighth album of British metalcore highlight ARCHITECTS, resulting in #7 of the German Album Charts. The release event in Ludwigsburg drew 1600 fans into a local club that night.
At the end of May 2018, the title Legacy of the Beast marks a double quake across Europe: Coinciding with the launch of Iron Maiden's eponymous tour, CMM, in collaboration with Nodding Frog, is launching an unprecedented international promo offensive for the epic fantasy mobile game Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast. The release let to enthusiastic response from around the world and an unrelenting interest in the intriguing connection that the game makes between reality and the virtual world.
Sony and KISSIN' DYNAMITE, with persistence and dedication, claim to make stadium rock Made in Germany socially acceptable again. Besides print, online and club promotion, CMM couldn’t help but arrange that, in cooperation with popular meat processor Fleischwaren Wulff and under our brand Meat2Grill, Kissin' Dynamite beamed at thousands of German barbecue sausage buyers from straight out of the grocery store freezers: Our KISSIN’ DYNAMITE branded Whiskey-Bratwurst became a big hit in German supermarkets. And the band’s powerrun continued well into the fall: The annual Metal Hammer Award in the category Best German Act has been presented to the guys by no less a figure than SAOL artist JEN MAJURA.
The CMM team was happy to be able to celebrate the band’s big day with them, as well as Iron Maiden’s remarkable show at Hanover’s famous Expo Plaza in June. Besides the new faces enrichment through new faces, our team could proudly announce the launch of the brand new CMM PressLounge, exclusively for media partners. We thereby offer our media partners a new, carefully sorted database for high-quality photos of all our topics, which can be accessed directly through our website. Working outside the office for Parkway Drive’s radio promotion and the annual European media coordination as part of the amazing 70000TONS OF METAL team were definitely among the team’s internal highlights of 2018.
CMM History before 2018
In order to celebrate the new iteration of our website made available online, we have asked the independent journalist Matthias Mineur (METAL HAMMER, GITARRE & BASS) to tell it in his own words. He succeeded in making it an interesting, enjoyable read for you – Thank you, Mr. Mineur!
So welcome to our world and enjoy the ride!
The ever increasing use of digital media, changes in recreational behavior and economic decline in a substantial number of core markets have left the music industry facing serious global challenges. Challenges CMM GMBH are ready for: hailing from Hanover, Germany, founder Wolfgang Rott and his team offer an all-round approach to music marketing, covering all aspects of public relations from print and web to broadcasting and club – you name it. Other areas of expertise include marketing and development of large events all the way from the conception stage to supervision in action. Consulting for big companies and renowned bands is yet another main service they offer. CMM GMBH also run their own label SAOL, serve as music publishers and have recently established their own booking department for in-house artists. The range of CMM’s services spans all of the European continent and is rooted in their worldwide network.
Wolfgang Rott on CMM’s philosophy: “The traditional distinction between record labels, publishers, management, agents, tour managers and merch companies hardly exists anymore. This has led to a situation in which young artists often find themselves looking for people with the patience and the means to allow them to develop their talents. Instead, reality television casting formats and competitive, soap opera-style talent shows have risen as questionable ready-made substitutes. The number of artists with true character has been sinking dramatically as a result of this. Unique talent not immediately suited for the mainstream barely stands a chance on the market these days. What we’re trying to do is to go against this downward trend.”
CMM take care of all things marketing for a large number of artists, companies and events. CMM count high-profile bands among their clients – such as Iron Maiden or Megadeth as well as spectacular projects like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which (after taking on the States) heralded their conquest of Europe with a sensational show at Wacken 2015. On top of that, annual festivals like 70000Tons of Metal, MetalDays and other big events are part of CMM’s agenda.
The list of frequent collaborators might as well be a list of music’s most influential names – such as Universal, Warner, Sony, Edel, Phantom Management (Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson and others), Nightcastle Management (Savatage, TSO), BMG/Noise, Ultimate Music Cruises and Artfest Slovenia. CMM are renowned for their praised international network and trustworthy cooperation with important musicians from across the globe.
CMM has been a success story since its beginnings in the late 1970s. Before that, the company’s founder Wolfgang Rott worked as a clerk in the local town council while playing the drums and singing in various bands. He quit his day job when Frank Bornemann, head of German prog-rock legend Eloy and owner of Horus Sound Studios in Hanover, asked him to start working as his manager. Rott proceeded to become the tour manager for various bands from Hanover and worked with artists like Eruption, Eric Burdon and John Mayall.
In 1983, he founded R + B Production with a partner and started to organize shows for Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Dieter Hallervorden and Romy Haag, to name a few. This led to him being Joe Cocker’s tour manager and management consultant for three years. Together with Folker Koopmanns, Rott went on to assume music program responsibilities for the Hamburg-based clubs Docks and Große Freiheit 36. Rott: “At some point, the record label EMI asked me to do management and booking for their newcomer Axxis. Thus, in the fall of 1989, CMM was born.”
Following the highly successful partnership with Axxis (whose first record still holds the title of “best-selling hard rock debut in Germany”, having sold more than 100.000 copies), CMM took on promotional duties for The Sweet and Tony Martin, who was Black Sabbath’s singer at the time. From 1991 to 1994, CMM were busy organizing shows for acts like Metal Church and Lovetrick from Southern Germany. They were also the first to put in place promotion of catalogs and DVDs, used extensively by Warner Music at the time for artists such as Aha, AC/DC, Madonna, Queen, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Status Quo, Rush, Marilyn Manson and Europe. A major highlight of that era was the release of Led Zeppelin’s DVD When The West Was Won, which marked the reunion of the band’s remaining original members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John-Paul Jones. CMM’s seminal work also comprises club-based release parties and pan-European festival promotion.
In the mid-90s, CMM’s dedication and experience bore a well-deserved fruit. The eventful years of 1996 and 1997 saw the team working with every single artist who had signed with SPV, a record label then teaming with stars, while also tending to the needs of some of the world’s biggest rock acts, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Motörhead, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Manowar, Savatage, Anthrax, Gary Moore, Saga, Saxon, Gotthard, Dio, Dream Theater and the Scorpions. Rott: “We had another success with Helloween’s comeback record The Master of the Rings, which sold over 100.000 copies in Germany alone thanks to our help, ranking among the Top 100 for six weeks.”
The logical next step in CMM’s trajectory was turning the promotional department into a GMBH (the German equivalent of an LLC) while management and publishing were maintained by Rott alone. More prosperous years followed, until the company had to face a small crisis in 2004, when the growing hurdles of the music industry forced record labels to sever many well-established ties with promotional agencies. Rott chose to regroup, turning CMM into CMM W.ROTT – a decision that resulted in a fruitful collaboration with EMI and the success of Iron Maiden’s Dance of Death. Ever since Brave New World (2000), Rott and his team have been helping the English band obtain gold status with every release; Flight 666 even reached platinum. 2006’s A Matter of Life and Death also ushered in a chart-topping streak for the band that has yet to be broken.
The present iteration of CMM GMBH took form in 2008. Still based in Hanover, Rott assembled a new team and set out to stay true to his previous successes – and successful they were: giants like Judas Priest (Nostradamus, 2008 & Redeemer Of Souls, 2014), W.A.S.P. (Dominator 2007 & Babylon, 2009), Slayer (World Painted Blood, 2009) and Blind Guardian (Memories Of A Time To Come, 2012) all surpassed sales expectations thanks to their support. The label service SAOL became another mainstay for CMM GMBH, with over 100 releases by artists from Germany, the States, Canada, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, and many more – Cripper, Striker and Cryptex are just a few of the many young talents worth mentioning in this context.
When asked about his tireless passion for this line of work, Rott says: “I love my job because of the fun we’re having as a team, because the business keeps me young and because I know that if you get it right, your ideas can still make a difference. The challenges keep coming too – as of 2009, we’re doing the planning and now the marketing for the 70000Tons of Metal cruise, Metal Camp has transformed into MetalDays, and there’s always more. Like Iron Maiden’s latest album The Book of Souls for instance: we battled with Helene Fischer and Sido for the top of the German charts with that one. New market segments excite me as well. Metal Tales is the first online game we’re promoting.”
Today, CMM GMBH is a name that stands for dedication, experience, flexibility and an unbroken love for the music world. Wolfgang Rott’s team is a well-rounded mix of experts and young, motivated people. Their clients benefit from the company’s large database and vast archives and informative newsletters as well as from a network of countless contacts with musicians, managers, journalists, event managers and labels. Rott and his team will stay true to the motto: a team that is half experience, half creativity will achieve great things for the artists and their projects.
Matthias Mineur, Freelance journalist at and
Hanover, May 2017