|Olivia Records Inc.|
|Status||California corporation since 1975|
|Country of origin||United states|
Olivia Records is a women's music record label founded in 1973 by lesbian members of the Washington D.C. area.  It was founded by Ginny Berson, Cris Williamson, Meg Christian, Judy Dlugacz, and six other women.  Olivia Records sold more than one million records and produced over 40 albums during its twenty years of operation. 
A separate lesbian feminist movement emerged in the 1970s that reacted to the discrimination of women within the gay rights and counterculture movements, and to the heteronormativity that was embedded in the 1960s US feminist movement.  Women's music labels such as Olivia contributed to a 1970s lesbian sub-culture by providing a public platform for the expression of topics that were lacking in dominant political discourse, and helped consumers develop strategies to cope, organize, and articulate their experiences.  Cris Williamson encouraged the Olivia collective to use an independent music label as an economic base for lesbian social organizing. 
First called the "Olivia Collective," the group that founded the record label named itself and the label after the heroine of a novel by Dorothy Bussy, who fell in love with her headmistress at French boarding school.  The heroine and the novel were both called Olivia. The founders—Cris Williamson, Meg Christian, Judy Dlugacz, and seven other women—borrowed $4,000 to form the record label. 
Christian and Williamson were the two best-selling artists signed to Olivia Records. In 1973, the collective released a 45 record with Christian's song "Lady" on one side and Williamson's "If It Weren't for the Music" on the other.   The single sold for $1.50, plus mailing costs.  Yoko Ono responded and said that she wanted to do a side project with Olivia, but the collective politely declined.[ citation needed ] Without making themselves dependent on any high-profile person, they made $12,000 with the single, which was enough to release Christian's first album, I Know You Know in 1974, and a year later, Williamson's groundbreaking album The Changer and the Changed.  I Know You Know sold over ten thousand copies in its first year, and eventually sold over 70,000 copies for Olivia Records,   while The Changer and the Changed became one of the top-selling albums on any independent label.  
In 1974, Judy Dlugacz (president), Meg Christian, Ginny Berson, Jennifer Woodhul, and Kate Winter relocated the company from Washington D.C. to California.  But Olivia's business philosophy ultimately contributed to financial problems and internal conflicts among staff and artists contributed to its restructuring and ultimate demise.
Olivia Records echoed the philosophy cultural production of lesbian feminist separatists. But although Olivia Records claimed to benefit all women, the business was primarily led and promoted the interests of white middle-class American lesbians.  In the late 1970s, Olivia expanded in inclusivity by promoting the music of African American artists Linda Tillery, Mary Watkins and Sweet Honey in the Rock.  In 1977, after repeated criticism by Anita Bryant, Olivia put out Lesbian Concentrate , a collection of songs and poetry with part of the proceeds going to benefit the Lesbian Mothers National Defense Fund. Included on the 13 track LP was Meg Christian's "Ode To A Gym Teacher" and Sue Fink's "Leaping Lesbians".[ citation needed ]
Sandy Stone was Olivia's sound engineer from ca. 1974-1978, recording and mixing all Olivia product during this period. She resigned as the controversy over her working for a lesbian-identified enterprise increased because she was a transgender woman.    
Following a sold-out tenth-anniversary best-of concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Olivia's idealist and inexperienced business practices led to significant financial hardship. Meg Christian left the record label in 1984.  Olivia moved first to Los Angeles to stay on top of the burgeoning music scene and then to Oakland. The remaining five women of the collective, who had been pooling their money and even living together for the previous seven years, began to disperse. Olivia stopped putting out new records and instead performed a series of 15th anniversary concerts in 1988. The two 15th-anniversary concerts at Carnegie Hall were the largest grossing concerts at that venue in its history.  In 1988, the record label restructured and morphed into a broader women-centered social business venture resulted in the branding of Olivia, a lesbian travel company.   
Even though Olivia Records released world music and salsa records, it was most successful with acoustic solo acts, although sometimes it failed to identify mainstream talent. In 1985, singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge, then a struggling Los Angeles artist, sent her demo to Olivia, but was ultimately rejected. Etheridge went on to become one of the most popular female performers of the 1990s and arguably the most successful lesbian musician of all time. She saved the rejection letter, signed by "the women of Olivia," which was featured in Intimate Portrait , the Lifetime Television documentary of her life.
Unable to reinvent itself for the changing musical landscape for women, from riot grrrl to Lilith Fair to Ani DiFranco, Olivia could no longer sustain itself as a record label. 
Olivia Records promoted music that validated women's and lesbian's experiences, including lyrical and musical expressions of love, anger, fear, and humor.  Lyrics by artists on Olivia Records frequently described personal or local problems rather than address global women's issues. Fans bonded to the musicians and to each other, thus forming women-centered musical communities.  Early interviews with the founders of Olivia Records show an acute awareness of the radical political message embedded in the very creation of the label. In an August 1974 interview about the creation of Olivia Records, Ginny Berson, Meg Christian, Judy Dulgacz, Cyndi Gair and Helaine Harris described the label as a new national women's recording company.  In this interview, Meg Christian described Olivia Records as a form of lobbying, and Judy Delgacz directly tied the label to the broader women's movement. Ginny Berson explained their vision for women to gain social power and capital by creating alternative economic institutions that would enable women to control their own economic situation. She identified the fastest way to eliminate oppressive/discriminating/harassing workplaces as by employing women, promoting women, and investing women's money in women. 
The economic philosophy and business operations that differentiated Olivia Records from mainstream records reflected the idealistic hopes of its founders, and the label's executives revelled in experimenting with unknown artists and inexperienced producers.  As an independent label, Olivia Records cultivated a fan base through music festivals, coffee houses and bookstores, and mail order catalogs. Similar to women's music festivals, Olivia Records favored apprenticeship and mentoring as staple organizational practices.   The founders of Olivia Records were not the only LGBTQ activists to criticize American capitalism or consumerism, and many subculture bars, bookstores, coffee shops, and presses were created to carve out physical and intellectual queer spaces in the American marketplace.  The DIY aesthetic of Olivia Records mirrored broader trends that proliferated in the American lesbian arts and counter-marketplace during the 1970s and 80s, including the rejection of mass-production and big corporations in favor of crafts, folk art, and preindustrial production techniques.  Similarly, lesbians were valuing alternative forms of commerce, including gifting and trading.   Lesbians were reclaiming handmade objects and domestic products, and the rise of acoustic folk music was an offshoot of all of these trends. 
Cris Williamson and Judy Dlugacz were awarded the 2018 Jack Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for Executive by the Americana Music Association. 
Judy Grahn is an American poet and author.
Lesbian feminism is a cultural movement and critical perspective that encourages women to focus their efforts, attentions, relationships, and activities towards their fellow women rather than men, and often advocates lesbianism as the logical result of feminism. Lesbian feminism was most influential in the 1970s and early 1980s, primarily in North America and Western Europe, but began in the late 1960s and arose out of dissatisfaction with the New Left, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, sexism within the gay liberation movement, and homophobia within popular women's movements at the time. Many of the supporters of Lesbianism were actually women involved in gay liberation who were tired of the sexism and centering of gay men within the community and lesbian women in the mainstream women's movement who were tired of the homophobia involved in it.
Holly Near is an American singer-songwriter, actress, teacher, and activist.
Feminist separatism is the theory that feminist opposition to patriarchy can be achieved through women's separation from men. Much of the theorizing is based in lesbian feminism.
Mr. Lady Records was a San Francisco-based lesbian-feminist independent record label and video art distributor. Artists on the label included Le Tigre and The Butchies. OutSmart magazine noted that Mr. Lady was "queercore's strongest label."
June Elizabeth Millington is a Filipina-American guitarist, songwriter, producer, educator, and actress.
Cris Williamson is an American feminist singer-songwriter and recording artist. She was a visible lesbian political activist, during an era when few who were unconnected to the lesbian community were aware of Gay and Lesbian issues. Williamson's music and insight have served as a catalyst for change in the creation of women-owned record companies in the 1970s. Using her musical talents, networking with other artists working in Women's music, and her willingness to represent those who did not yet feel safe in speaking for themselves, Williamson is credited by many in the LGBT community for her contributions, both artistically, and politically, and continues to be a role model for a younger generation hoping to address concerns and obtain recognition for achievements specific to people who have historically been ignored.
Women's music is music by women, for women, and about women. The genre emerged as a musical expression of the second-wave feminist movement as well as the labor, civil rights, and peace movements. The movement was started by lesbian performers such as Cris Williamson, Meg Christian and Margie Adam, African-American musicians including Linda Tillery, Mary Watkins, Gwen Avery and activists such as Bernice Johnson Reagon and her group Sweet Honey in the Rock, and peace activist Holly Near. Women's music also refers to the wider industry of women's music that goes beyond the performing artists to include studio musicians, producers, sound engineers, technicians, cover artists, distributors, promoters, and festival organizers who are also women.
Chicana feminism is a sociopolitical movement, theory, and praxis that scrutinizes the historical, cultural, spiritual, educational, and economic intersections impacting Chicanas and the Chicana/o community in the United States. Chicana feminism empowers women to challenge institutionalized social norms and regards anyone a feminist who fights for the end of women's oppression in the community.
The Furies Collective was a short-lived commune of twelve young lesbian separatists in Washington, D.C., in 1971 and 1972. They viewed lesbianism as more political than sexual, and declared heterosexual women to be an obstacle to the world revolution they sought. Their theories are still acknowledged among feminist groups.
Meg Christian is an American folk singer associated with the women's music movement.
Olivia Travel is a travel company that sells cruises and resort vacations marketed towards lesbian customers. It was founded by Judy Dlugacz in 1973 as a women's record label, Olivia Records. It offered its first all-woman cruise in 1990 and remains the only company in the world offering cruises catering just to lesbians. Like its parent company, Olivia takes its name from the heroine of a pulp novel by Dorothy Bussy who fell in love with her headmistress at a French boarding school.
Pat Parker was an American poet and activist. Both her poetry and her activism drew from her experiences as an African-American lesbian feminist. Her poetry spoke about her tough childhood growing up in poverty, dealing with sexual assault, and the murder of a sister. At eighteen, Parker was in an abusive relationship and had a miscarriage after being pushed down a flight of stairs. After two divorces she came out as lesbian "embracing her sexuality" and said she was liberated and "knew no limits when it came to expressing the innermost parts of herself".
Teresa Trull is an American female singer, musician, songwriter, and record producer from Durham, North Carolina. She is recognized as a pioneer in Women's music, with her debut album The Ways a Woman Can Be released on Olivia Records in 1977.
Linda "Tui" Tillery is an American singer, percussionist, producer, songwriter, and music arranger. She began her professional singing career at age 19 with the Bay Area rock band The Loading Zone. She is recognized as a pioneer in Women's music, with her second solo album titled Linda Tillery released on Olivia Records in 1977. In addition to performing, she was the producer on three of Olivia's first eight albums. Within the women's music genre, she has collaborated with June Millington, Deidre McCalla, Barbara Higbie, Holly Near, Margie Adam, and others. Tillery was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best Musical Album for Children.
Deidre McCalla is an American singer-songwriter from New York City. McCalla was raised around the folk music scene of Macdougal Street in New York, where she began her career. In the 1990s, she moved to northern California. She has released several albums on the women's music label Olivia Records.
Radical Harmonies is a 2002 American independent documentary film directed and executive produced by Dee Mosbacher that presents a history of women's music, which has been defined as music by women, for women, and about women. The film was screened primarily at LGBTQ film festivals in 2003 and 2004.
Ruth Dworin is a feminist, women's activist, sound engineer, music producer and concert organizer based in Toronto, Canada. She is the owner of music production company Womynly Way Productions, an important contributor to the women's music scene in Toronto during the 1980s.
Ginny Z. Berson is a radical lesbian feminist, political activist, and community organizer who lived and worked collectively as a lesbian separatist with The Furies Collective and Olivia Records.
Judy Dlugacz is an American entrepreneur. She was one of the founders of Olivia Records. Founded in 1973, it was the first woman-owned record company. She also founded her own travel company, Olivia Travel, in 1990 after not feeling comfortable on a cruise as an out lesbian. The Washington Blade described Olivia Travel as "the premier travel company for queer women".
The second edition includes a new foreword that describes her anti-trans work after the publication of her thesis project as the first edition in the late 70s.