Waters’ antisemitic statements “have infuriated his former bandmates”. Now, German-based international music company BMG, which combines the activities of a music publisher and a record label, is reportedly cutting ties with the artist.
Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters has reportedly been dropped by music rights company Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) over his inflammatory remarks about Israel, Ukraine and the United States.
The news was reported by Variety, which notes that Waters’ antisemitic statements “infuriated his former bandmates, as they have driven off several suitors interested in acquiring the wizening band’s recorded-music catalog, which was said to be on the market for half a billion dollars.”
The Berlin-based company signed a deal with Waters, 80, back in 2016 and planned to release a newly re-recorded version of Pink Floyd’s seminal 1973 album ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ in 2023, but the new CEO Thomas Coesfeld dropped the contract. The album was eventually released by the UK label Cooking Vinyl.
Since the start of the Israel Hamas war, Rogers has made multiple remarks that have been deemed antisemitic, and has been the subject of multiple controversies in recent years.
Waters, a longtime supporter of Palestine and a critic of Israel, has vehemently denied these accusations, but caused uproar last year after wearing a “Nazi-style” uniform onstage in Berlin.
He won a legal battle in April 2023 after magistrates of Frankfurt instructed a venue to cancel his concert, accusing him of being “one of the most widely known antisemites in the world”.
Waters explained that his disdain is towards Israel, not Judaism, accusing Israel of “abusing the term antisemitism to intimidate people like me into silence”.
The Biden administration weighed in on the controversy, saying his recent performances in Germany were antisemitic.
The State Department that Waters had “a long track record of using antisemitic tropes“ and that his concert in Germany “contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimised the Holocaust”
Waters branded President Joe Biden a “war criminal” during a CNN broadcast and claimed he was directly “fueling the war in the Ukraine.”
In February last year, when speaking to the United Nations Security Council, the artist also denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “illegal,” but also claimed it was “not unprovoked.” He added: “So I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms. There, that’s out of the way.”
While artists are often “dropped” from their recording deals or otherwise choose to split from their labels, it is less common for a company to axe a publishing deal, Variety also noted. Recent prominent examples include R&B singer R Kelly, who is currently serving a decades-long prison term for sexual abuse-related felonies, while Kanye West’s deals with Universal and Sony Music Publishing were left to expire without renewal after the controversial rapper made a string of antisemitic comments.
Waters himself referred to being “fired” by BMG in a video interview with Glenn Greenwald last November. Waters claimed he had been dropped by BMG and portrayed the parting as a result of pressure from the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish nonprofit.
A source for BMG told Variety that the company does not agree with Waters’ version of events.
Additional sources • Variety