French music distributor Believe Digital evidently believes in the Nuclear Blast record label enough to want to buy them.

Nuclear Blast is said to have been acquired by the French distribution company for a figured in the tens of millions of dollars, a deal which will grant Believe a majority of shares in the German record label. Nuclear Blast founder Markus Staiger remains a shareholder. Neither company has released any information on their websites at this time of writing. Believe have linked to a news story on their Facebook page. In contrast, Nuclear Blast’s Facebook page header image still says they are ‘the world’s biggest independent heavy metal label’ – emphasis added.

Nuclear Blast is an "independent" record label


Everything Is Noise readers will be familiar with Nuclear Blast as the label that carries some of the most popular metal bands today. Their roster includes Meshuggah, Amorphis, Nightwish, Behemoth, Slayer, Blind Guardian, Opeth, Suffocation, Epica, and many others. Originally founded in 1987, Nuclear Blast had a reputation for being a label who would sign almost anybody. Ever since they hired former Roadrunner Records A&R man Monte Connor, the label has signed a lot of big names in the metal scene, including many former Roadrunner artists. As a result, the acquisition by Believe puts a lot of popular metal under the control of a new business interest.

Believe’s German managing director said of the deal:

‘Because we share this passion and dedication, we are very excited to establish this alliance with Nuclear Blast and service the careers of their artists and develop new and exciting talents with their team.’

This news comes only two weeks after Believe Digital acquired the French (formerly) independent record label Tôt ou Tard. The French phrase translates as ‘sooner or later’, which is very fitting because sooner or later every successful independent label will be gobbled up by a bigger company. This ended Believe Digital’s 13 year history as being only a distributor. The company evidently has cast its lot with the content that they used to be the middle man in bringing to the market.

This is very fitting due to the changing landscape in the music industry. Distributors traditionally bought physical products (CDs, LPs, cassettes) from record companies and sold them to retailers. Due to their need to operate on volume (their ‘take’ amounts to roughy 10% of the cover price of any product sold), distributors are the only players in the music business who have to operate like a real business. Digital platforms and streaming have all but completely eliminated retailers and physical media, making most distributors obsolete. Indeed, Believe Digital’s web site harps more on their marketing services than their distribution business. Distributors, in other words, need business deals like these in order to survive. Everything is content.

About the deal, Staiger himself said: ‘We have found the ideal partner with Believe Digital to lead Nuclear Blast and its artists into the future’.

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