We don’t fight over Ed Sheeran

HIn the music industry: Unlike the head of Universal Music, Lucian Grainge, who started out as a talented person, or his British compatriot on Sony Music’s side, Rob Stringer, Denis Ladegaillerie can’t say that about himself. “I’m from the technical side of the business,” says the 52-year-old Frenchman. Trained at the renowned Institute of Science, among others, he initially worked as a commercial attorney in New York.

At the turn of the millennium, many of his friends then switched from large law firms to Internet startups. In turn, he joined Vivendi and has worked since 2001 as Director of Strategy and Finance for Digital Business in the USA. Universal Music was already part of the Vivendi portfolio after the French bought Universal Music’s parent company, Seagram. In mid-2001, they also took over the digital music platform MP3.com, which they had previously sued. Today, the station describes Ladegaillerie as an early digital music education. With the experience behind him, he finished the Vivendi ring and founded Believe with two buddies in 2005.

“Believe has been basically profitable from day one”

The company has been listed on Euronext in Paris for about a year and is now one of the leaders in the “artist and label services” space. As such, Believe does not focus on exploiting the rights to a huge catalog and almost does not hold comprehensive contracts with artists, but rather operates – as the name implies – only as a service provider. This starts with pure (digital) sales and extends to individual marketing tasks or full campaign management. Depends on what an independent artist or poster needs and can’t or doesn’t want to do themselves. The digital capabilities of the market that feature live streaming make many things easier. In 2005 things looked different.

“At first, not many believed in digitizing the market,” says Ladegaillerie. At the time, our former colleagues at Vivendi basically took the stand: “Personalization is like mobile ringtones, this is where the future of the music industry lies.” This was in fact the prevailing idea at the time. He himself took with him three ideas from his time at Vivendi: prospective digitization of the market, democratizing access through cheap and uncomplicated digital sales, and last but not least, developing artists through new digital channels. However, it will take until 2015 for the global market for recorded music to grow again thanks to the advent of live broadcasting.

Strong sales growth, manageable margin

Ladegaillerie says he initially funded the company himself. Except for 2020 “where we continued investing despite rather slow growth, and 2021, the year in which IPO costs were incurred, Believe was essentially profitable from day one.” With such a balance sheet, it was not difficult to convince TCV, which had already invested in Spotify or Netflix, to participate in 2015. There was no traditional funding round. American venture capital now owns about 41 percent of the stock, while Ladegaillerie owns 12.6 percent.

Belief is still growing in strength. Increased sales by about 30% to 577 million euros in 2021 compared to the previous year. Much stronger growth than the 18.5 percent that the global music market has grown – as Ladegaillerie likes to point out: “We consider growth rates in the 20 to 25 percent range realistic for the next few years, as our core markets are not as deeply penetrated as the USA or Britain Great.” Plus, one gains market share, because musicians wanted to take more things into their own hands and have more control over their business. In addition to the Asian region, France and Germany are emphasized as the most important individual countries.

Leave a Comment