Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Oct 15th 2009 5:00PM by Linda Laban
Despite a major rethink through the 2000s, when the recording industry was forced to accept the digital world of downloading music, the major labels – now consolidated into The Big Four -- maintain a large share of the market. After years of music business hegemony, these music companies boast a strong infrastructure that oversees everything from production, manufacture, and distribution, to marketing and promotion. The nucleus and lifeblood of the major label, though, remains its talent, and there is no more important department that the A&R division. A&R stands for artists and repertoire and the fabled A&R man, an upgraded talent scout, seeks out new artists and liaises with their managers, and, the label shareholders hope, delivers the music industry's Next Big Thing.
The British label, which gave the world the Beatles via its Parlophone imprint, also owns the iconic Capitol Records. Capitol was co-founded by American songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1942, becoming the first label based on the West Coast, far away from the music business in New York City. EMI also owns Virgin Records, a music company it acquired in the early 1990s.
Warner Music Group
The mighty Warner Bros. debuted as an offshoot to Warner Bros. movie studio, releasing movie soundtracks. It soon picked up on the growing market for rock 'n' roll in the 1950s and eventually merged with Atlantic and Elektra to form the WEA music company, before reverting to its current title. Notably, Warner Bros. is home to Reprise Records, reputedly an artist-driven label in a commercial climate, with acts such as Neil Young, the Flaming Lips, and Built to Spill.
In 2004, the Japanese-owned Sony Records and the German-owned Bertelsmann Music Group merged. The Sony BMG label repertoire includes mighty American originals Columbia and RCA, as well as Epic, East/West, and, rather interestingly, the Zomba Music Group, a company that oversees seminal British indie label, Rough Trade Records.
Universal Music Group
Universal is another label that got its start from the might of an established Hollywood movie company. However, Universal Music group's most important imprints now are the Interscope and Geffen music companies. UMG is owned by Canadian corporation Vivendi, and thanks to big marquee names like U2 and 50 Cent, Universal ranks as the label with the highest record sales.