Sony Music Expands Distribution Reach; Acquires French Indie Believe, TuneCore

Sony Music is continuing to expand its distribution portfolio, entering into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in France-based Believe Distribution Service for a price between $355 and $444 million, according to a report in Nikkei business daily, and confirmed to Variety by a source.

Sony already owns The Orchard, the 20-year-old music and video distribution firm, which it bought fully in 2015, acquiring the 49% it didn’t take ownership of during its initial investment in 2012, and also houses RED, Sony’s sales and marketing division, which operates on behalf of several dozen labels.

Believe was founded in Paris in 2004 by Denis Ladegaillerie as a worldwide online distribution and services arm and an in-house record label. With 32 offices in 16 territories, the company’s clients include Scorpio Music, Kitsune, Chinese Man Records, Fargo, Baco Records, Afrique Caraibes Productions and Yellow. Its website claims it offers “full music distribution software for artists and labels,” with 420 “experts” on its team. In addition to distribution, the company offers trade marketing, video services, sync services and neighboring rights.

Believe acquired TuneCore, the ahead-of-its-time platform that streamlines and facilitates digital distribution for rights-holders big and small, in April 2015, substantially increasing its worldwide market share and boosting annual revenue to $250 million. Two months later, Spotify investor TCV led a $60 million infusion in the company.

Ladegaillerie told Music Business Worldwide earlier this year that the company was not for sale. “Believe has been profitable for six years, we don’t need [more] cash to support and develop the business,” though he did go on to say, “If we get an offer that we can’t refuse tomorrow, like anyone else, we would consider it, but it’s not been the case so far.”

Last October, Believe took control of French indie distributor and label Naïve. The Sony-Believe transaction is expected to close later this year.

Sony looks to be ramping up a buying spree, with Sony/ATV Music Publishing also expected to acquire the remainder of EMI Music Publishing that it administers but doesn’t own, as reported in Variety.


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