Founded by former Virgin France chairman Patrick Zelnick and advertising executive Eric Tong Cuong in late 1997, Naïve quickly established itself as a commanding presence in the French music and media industries. The company acquired leading independent label and distributor Auvidis to serve as the ground floor for its own burgeoning classical music activities.
Under the guidance of artistic director Hervé Boissière, Naïve was hailed worldwide for its smartly designed reissues from Auvidis' Astrée and Montaigne catalogs, as well as both old and new material from another acquisition, the early music label Opus 111.
It has also offered significant new releases, including an exquisite recent performance of Claude Debussy's opera "Pelleas et Melisande" conducted by Bernard Haitink, which was recorded in collaboration with Radio France.
Naïve's French distribution business was greatly bolstered when it signed an exclusive deal to distribute, market and promote the Naxos label in July 2000; meanwhile, Naxos assumed distribution of Naïve's labels in numerous foreign territories, including Sweden and the U.K.
Though Harmonia Mundi did an admirable job in creating initial awareness of Naïve here in the U.S., a stateside shift likely was inevitable, given the growing synchronicity between the label and Naxos elsewhere. Indeed, the impending pact was so widely rumored late last year that when Naïve stopped shipping new releases to Harmonia Mundi in October, retailers were soon calling Naxos to find out when they would become available