Universal acquires UK metal label Candlelight via Spinefarm

Two weeks ago, MBW predicted that 2016 would see Universal start acquiring music companies again after two years of sitting on its hands.

It’s already happened.

The assets of UK-born independent metal label Candlelight, founded in 1993, have this week been acquired by UMG subsidiary Spinefarm.

The move is UMG’s first significant music acquisition since the company snapped up film production specialists Eagle Rock Entertainment in April 2014.

Two years prior to that deal, of course, Universal swooped for EMI Music for £1.2bn, but were set strict restrictive conditions by the EC, and later had to sell Parlophone Label Group to Warner.

Candlelight, owned by Edward Christie and Steve Beatty – Directors of Abstract Sounds Music Ltd – told staff in an internal email this week that they had “made an informed choice to leave the label in the hands of a well-respected metal label backed by the world’s biggest record company”.

The duo added: “[Spinefarm] have shown an understanding and respect for what we do and are looking forward to working with Candlelight’s artists… We also feel that they will treat the catalogue with respect.”

Candleight is distributed in the US market by Universal‘s Caroline, and in Europe by independent Plastichead – although this will likely change under UMG ownership.

“We have made an informed choice to leave candlelight in the hands of a well-respected label backed by the world’s biggest record company.”

Edward Christie and Steve Beatty

Christie and Beatty said in their email: “Contractually, nothing will change. All future album options and commitments as well as accounting will continue as agreed in [the artists’] contracts. [For] all those [who] have signed licensing agreements, the terms of the licenses will remain in place and will terminate on the due date.”

The duo further commented: “It’s been a great ride and we are immensely proud of what we have achieved in those years. We have enjoyed working with [all the artists] and it has been great to have made some genuine friendships along the way.

“We have released some amazing music, some of which can genuinely be termed as classics of their genres, a major achievement. We have also released some records that were received so badly that frankly people thought we were insane, but we liked them and we thought they should be heard.”

Candlelight signings include Khors, Galvano, Cold In Berlin and Bio-Cancer.

There seems to be an industry-wide trend for acquiring metal labels of late.

In May last year, BMG acquired US metal label Rise Records in a multi-million dollar deal.

And towards the end of 2015, Sony Music swooped for German independent Century Media in a deal believed to be worth $17m.

The big question now: Who will UMG acquire next?Music Business Worldwide

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