Polydor Records

Last updated

Polydor Records
Polydor Logo 1963 001.svg
Parent company Universal Music Group
Founded2 April 1913;106 years ago (1913-04-02)
Distributor(s)
GenreVarious
Country of origin United Kingdom
Location London, England, United Kingdom
Official website www.polydor.co.uk

Polydor Records Ltd. is a British record label and company that operates as part of Universal Music Group. It has a close relationship with Universal's Interscope Geffen A&M Records label, which distributes Polydor's releases in the United States. In turn, Polydor distributes Interscope releases in the United Kingdom. Polydor Records Ltd. was established in London in 1954 as a British subsidiary of German company Deutsche Grammophon GmbH. It was renamed Polydor Ltd. in 1972.

A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information. Within the mainstream music industry, recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels also provide publicists, who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.

Universal Music Group American music corporation

Universal Music Group is an American global music corporation that is a subsidiary of the French media conglomerate Vivendi. UMG's global corporate headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California. It is considered one of the "Big Three" music companies, along with Sony Music and Warner Music Group. Since 2004, the corporation is no longer related to the film studio Universal Studios. In 2019, Fast Company named Universal Music Group the most innovative music company and listed UMG among the Top 50 most innovative companies in the world and "amid the music industry's digital transformation, Universal is redefining what a modern label should look like." UMG has signed licensing agreements with more than 400 platforms worldwide.

Interscope Geffen A&M Records American record label

Interscope Geffen A&M Records (IGA), also known as A&M Records Group, is an American umbrella label owned by Universal Music Group, consisting of record labels Interscope Records, Geffen Records, and A&M Records.

Contents

Its artists have included The Moody Blues, The Who, Samantha Mumba, Cher Lloyd, Years & Years, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Slade, Bee Gees, The Jam, Cheryl and Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, Take That, James Brown, Fickle Friends, The Fauves, Ellie Goulding, Duffy, James Blake, Snow Patrol, Elbow, Status Quo, Elton John, Marie Osmond, Waldo de los Ríos, Ruti Olajugbagbe, Molly Hocking and American artists Lana Del Rey, Soraya, Haim, Keith O'Conner Murphy, LANY, and Azealia Banks.

The Moody Blues English band

The Moody Blues are an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1964, initially consisting of keyboardist Mike Pinder, multi-instrumentalist Ray Thomas, guitarist Denny Laine, drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick. The group came to prominence playing rhythm and blues music. They made some changes in musicians but settled on a line-up of Pinder, Thomas, Edge, guitarist Justin Hayward, and bassist John Lodge, who stayed together for most of the band's "classic era" into the early 1970s.

The Who English rock band

The Who are an English rock band formed in London in 1964. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide.

Samantha Mumba Irish-Zambian singer

Samantha Tamania Anne Cecilia Mumba is an Irish singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, fashion model and TV presenter. She shot to fame in 2000 with the release of her debut single "Gotta Tell You", which reached the top five in Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. It has since been listed in Billboard's 100 Catchiest Choruses of the 21st Century.

Label history

Beginnings

Polydor Records was founded on 2 April 1913 by German Polyphon-Musikwerke AG in Leipzig and registered on 25 July 1914 (Nr. 316613). The label was founded as Firma Brachhausen & Riesener in 1887 by Gustav Adolf Brachhausen and Ernst Paul Riessner, for manufacturing their new mechanical disc-playing music box Polyphon, invented in 1870. [1] During World War I on 24 April 1917, Polyphon-Musikwerke AG acquired the German Deutsche Grammophon-Aktiengesellschaft record plant and company from the German government. The German state had taken over British-held Grammophon as enemy property during World War I. [2]

Music box automatic musical instrument

A music box or musical box is an automatic musical instrument in a box that produces musical notes by using a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder or disc to pluck the tuned teeth of a steel comb. They were developed from musical snuff boxes of the 18th century and called carillons à musique. Some of the more complex boxes also contain a tiny drum and/or bells in addition to the metal comb.

Polyphon mechanical musicinstrument and label

Polyphon is a disc-playing music box, a mechanical device first manufactured by the Polyphon Musikwerke, located in Leipzig, Germany. Invented in 1870, full-scale production started around 1897 and continued into the early 1900s. Polyphons were exported all over world and music was supplied for the English, French and German markets, as well as further afield, with music cataloged for the Russian, Polish and Balkan regions. Polyphon is also a record label as registered by German Polyphon Musikwerke AG in 1908. Polyphon traded under the Polydor label since 1913 with their trademarks Polyphon Musik and Polyphon Record.

World War I 1914–1918 global war starting in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Polyphon-Grammophon-Konzern group. It was used as an export label from 1924. After the British and German branches of the Gramophone Company were separated during World War I, Deutsche Grammophon claimed the rights to the Nipper-dog and gramophone trademark for Germany, where HMV recordings were to be released under the Electrola trademark replacing the company lost during the war.

An independent record label is a record label that operates without the funding of major record labels; they are a type of small to medium-sized enterprise, or SME. The labels and artists are often represented by trade associations in their country or region, which in turn are represented by the international trade body, the Worldwide Independent Network (WIN).

The Gramophone Company Limited , based in the United Kingdom and founded on behalf of Emil Berliner, was one of the early recording companies, the parent organisation for the His Master's Voice (HMV) label, and the European affiliate of the American Victor Talking Machine Company. Although the company merged with the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1931 to form Electric and Musical Industries Limited (EMI), its name "The Gramophone Company Limited" continued in the UK into the 1970s.

Nipper dog mascot of HMV, RCA, and the Victor Talking Machine Company

Nipper (1884–1895) was a dog from Bristol, England, who served as the model for a painting by Francis Barraud titled "His Master's Voice". This image was the basis for the famous dog-and-gramophone trademark, one of the world's best-known, that was used by several audio recording and associated company brands, including Berliner Gramophone and its various successors, affiliates, and successors, including Berliner's German subsidiary Deutsche Grammophon; Berliner's American successor the Victor Talking Machine Co. ; Victor's Bluebird label; Zonophone; Berliner's British affiliate the Gramophone Co. Ltd. and its successors EMI and HMV Retail Ltd.; the Gramophone Co.'s German subsidiary Electrola; Zonophone; and onetime Victor subsidiary the Japan Victor Company (JVC).

1920s vintage Polydor export label with its double-horn gramophone logo Polydorearly78.JPG
1920s vintage Polydor export label with its double-horn gramophone logo

In turn, Deutsche Grammophon records exported from Germany were released on the Polyphon Musik and Polydor labels. [3] New foreign branches were founded, for example in Austria, Denmark, Sweden and France.

In 1941, Deutsche Grammophon (including Polydor) was purchased by Siemens & Halske.

Siemens & Halske defunct electrical equipment and engine manufacturer

Siemens & Halske AG was a German electrical engineering company that later became part of Siemens.

Polydor became a popular music label in 1946, while the new Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft label became a classical music label in 1949. [4] The previously used label, Grammophon, was disbanded. DGG gave, by an agreement dated 5 July 1949, an exclusive license from 1 July 1951 to use the Nipper-dog with gramophone to the original owner's company Electrola, the German branch of EMI. (In Germany, it was impossible to sell the trademark without selling the company.) [5] Polydor remained Deutsche Grammophon's export label, including classical music, in France and the Spanish-speaking world for the remainder of the long-playing era, as a result of language and cultural concerns. DGG established a subsidiary in London called Polydor Records Ltd. in 1954.

In the early 1960s, orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert signed unknowns Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers - who later became known as The Beatles—to Polydor. Popular International entertainers such as James Last, Bert Kaempfert, Kurt Edelhagen, Caterina Valente and the Kessler Twins appeared on the Polydor label, as well as many French, Spanish and Latin-American figures.

Siemens entered into a joint venture with Philips in 1962 creating the Grammophon-Philips Group, of which Polydor became a subsidiary label.

Polydor opened a US branch in 1969 (in years prior, they licensed their catalogue to Atlantic Records), [6] but did not become a real presence in the US record industry until its purchase of the recording contract and back catalogue of R&B performer James Brown in 1971, and the absorption of the MGM Records label by its parent company PolyGram in 1972.

In 1970, Polydor acquired the Hong Kong-based Diamond Records, which had been owned and founded by the local Portuguese merchant Ren da Silva in the late 1950s.

PolyGram

In 1954 Polydor Records introduced their distinctive orange label. Polydor orange II.JPG
In 1954 Polydor Records introduced their distinctive orange label.

In 1972, The Grammophon-Philips Group (GPG) reorganized to create PolyGram. The Polydor label continued to run as a subsidiary label under the new company. The name PolyGram is a portmanteau of Polydor and PhonoGram. Throughout the 1970s, Polydor became a major rock label, also releasing records by such platinum-selling acts as the Bee Gees [7] and Gloria Gaynor.

Into the 1980s, Polydor continued to do respectable business, in spite of becoming increasingly overshadowed by its PolyGram sister label Mercury Records. Polydor took over management of British Decca's pop catalogue. A&R manager Frank Neilson was able to score a major top ten hit in March 1981 for the label with "Do The Hucklebuck" by Coast to Coast as well as signing Ian Dury and Billy Fury to the company. In 1984, the company name was parodied in the rockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap (whose soundtrack album was distributed by Polydor), where "Polymer Records" was the band's record company.

By the early 1990s, Polydor had begun to underperform. PolyGram subsequently trimmed most of Polydor's staff and roster, and shifted it to operate under the umbrella of PolyGram Label Group (PLG), a newly constructed "super label" specifically designed to oversee the operations of PolyGram's lesser performing imprints, which included Island Records, London Records, Atlas Records and Verve Records at the time.

In 1994, as Island Records recovered from its sales slump, PolyGram dissolved most of PLG into it. Meanwhile, Polydor Records and Atlas Records merged, briefly called "Polydor/Atlas", and began operating through A&M Records, another PolyGram subsidiary. In 1995, Polydor/Atlas became simply Polydor Records again.

Twilight years in the United States

Over the next few years, Polydor tried to keep itself afloat with new artist signings, new releases, and reissues, while still becoming more and more dormant. In 1998, PolyGram was purchased by Seagram and absorbed into its Universal Music Group. During the consolidation of these two music giants, Polydor's United States operations were folded into Interscope-Geffen-A&M and Universal Records, while its overseas branch remained intact, with its records continuing to be distributed domestically through Interscope and A&M. Today, in America, the Polydor Records name and logo is mostly used on reissues of older material from its 1960s and 1970s heyday. Mercury handles the US distribution of most pre-1998 Polydor releases, including the reissues from the British Decca and MGM pop/rock collections. However, starting in the 2010s, Interscope Records has been signing acts such as Azealia Banks and Lana Del Rey jointly to Polydor and its logo has been seen on both releases.

Polydor Nashville

Record producer Harold Shedd founded Polydor's Nashville, Tennessee, division in 1994, which specialized in country music. Among the acts signed to Polydor Nashville were 4 Runner, the Moffatts, Chely Wright, Mark Luna, Clinton Gregory, Amie Comeaux, [8] along with Toby Keith and Davis Daniel, who transferred from Mercury Nashville in 1994. [9] The Nashville division was renamed A&M Nashville in March 1996 and closed in September of the same year, as PolyGram consolidated all its Nashville operations under the Mercury name.

Polydor UK

In 1972 the British Polydor Records Ltd. was renamed to Polydor Ltd. In the early 1970s, the main source of income for the label was the successful UK band Slade as well as The New Seekers and The Who. At the time, between the 1970s and 1980s, the Polydor/PolyGram Senior VP (who was originally the first head of their new [at the time] rock department) was Jerry Jaffe, who also signed acts such as Motörhead, Dexy's Midnight Runners, and the Jam. He also interacted with many famous and successful artists while in that position, including Nick Lowe and John Lennon, as well as going on to work with groups such as the Jesus and Mary Chain and Saint Etienne the late 1980s and 1990s. Later, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the label was also home to the Who and the Jam (as well as its successor act the Style Council).

Though Polydor's American branch is nearly inactive, in the United Kingdom Polydor remains one of the strongest labels in the country—with artists such as Take That, Cheryl, Duffy, the Saturdays, Kaiser Chiefs, Ellie Goulding and Lawson. Polydor also has a strong indie roster through the Fiction imprint with acts such as Ian Brown, Bright Eyes, Elbow (band), White Lies, the Maccabees, Kate Nash, Snow Patrol, Filthy Dukes, and Crystal Castles. It also acts as the UK label for American-based acts under Interscope-Geffen-A&M like Madonna, Eminem, the All-American Rejects, the Black Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, Dr. Dre, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, Kendrick Lamar, Maroon 5, M.I.A., No Doubt, Sting and JoJo.

In 2006, Polydor launched Fascination Records, a music label dedicated to pop music. Both Girls Aloud and Sophie Ellis-Bextor transferred to the new label and created groups such as the Saturdays and Girls Can't Catch. Several pop acts from US label Hollywood Records, such as Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez & the Scene were also signed to Fascination.

In 2008, A&M Records UK was founded as an imprint of Polydor UK. The same year Polydor obtained distribution of the Rolling Stones' back catalogue as well as new releases. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Geffen Records is an American record label, established by David Geffen and owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records imprint.

MCA Records US record label, imprint of MCA Records, Inc.

MCA Records was an American record label owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger MCA Music Entertainment Group, which the label was part of until its dissolution in 2003. The label's country division MCA Nashville is a still an active imprint of Universal Music Group Nashville.

Deutsche Grammophon record label

Deutsche Grammophon (DGG) is a German classical music record label that was the precursor of the corporation PolyGram. Headquartered in Berlin Friedrichshain, it is now part of Universal Music Group (UMG) since its merger with the UMG family of labels in 1999. It is the oldest surviving established record company.

Mercury Records record label

Mercury Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group. In the US, it operates through Island Records; in the UK, it is distributed by Virgin EMI Records.

London Records record label headquartered in the United Kingdom

London Records is a British record label that marketed records in the United States, Canada, and Latin America from 1947 to 1979 before becoming semi-independent.

MGM Records American record label

MGM Records was a record label started by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio in 1946 for the purpose of releasing soundtrack albums of their musical films. It soon transitioned to a pop music label which continued into the 1970s. The company also released soundtrack albums of the music for some of their non-musical films as well, and on rare occasions, cast albums of off-Broadway musicals such as The Fantasticks and the 1954 revival of The Threepenny Opera. In one instance, it even released the highly successful soundtrack album of a film made by a rival studio, Columbia Pictures's Born Free (1966).

PolyGram was a Dutch entertainment company and major music record label. It was founded in 1962 as the Grammophon-Philips Group by Dutch Philips and German Siemens, to be a holding for their record companies, and was renamed "PolyGram" in 1972. The name was chosen to reflect the Siemens interest Polydor Records and the Philips interest Phonogram Records. The company traced its origins through Deutsche Grammophon back to the inventor of the flat disk gramophone, Emil Berliner.

DGC Records American record label; imprint of Geffen Records, Inc.

DGC Records is an American record label that currently operates as a division of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, which is owned by the Vivendi-based Universal Music Group.

EMI Records record label founded by the EMI company

EMI Records Ltd. was a British record label founded by the music company of the same name in 1972 as its flagship label, and launched in January 1973 as the successor to its Columbia and Parlophone record labels. The label was later launched worldwide. It has a branch in India called "EMI Records India", run by director Mohit Suri.

Hip-O Records American record label specialized in reissues and compilations, part of Universal Music Group

Hip-O Records is a record label that specializes in reissues and compilations. It is part of Universal Music Group. Established in 1996, the label has distributed releases from 'out of style' genres such as disco and early hip-hop music as well as publishing film soundtracks. The label's name is a pun on the name 'hippo'.

DreamWorks Records American record label

DreamWorks Records was an American record label founded in 1996 by David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg as a subsidiary of DreamWorks SKG. The label operated until 2003 when it was sold to Universal Music Group. The label itself also featured a Nashville, Tennessee-based subsidiary, DreamWorks Nashville, which specialized in country music and was shut down in 2006. The company's logo was designed by Roy Lichtenstein and was his last commission before his death in 1997.

Philips Records Dutch record label; imprint of Philips Phonografische Industrie

Philips Records is a record label that was founded by the Dutch electronics company Philips. In 1946, Philips acquired the company which pressed records for British Decca's Dutch outlet in Amsterdam.

Phonogram Records was started in 1970 as a successor to Philips Phonographic Industries, a unit of the Grammophon-Philips Group (GPG), a joint venture of Philips N.V. of the Netherlands and Siemens A.G. of Germany.

Universal Music Group Nashville is Universal Music Group's country music subsidiary. Some of the labels in this group include MCA Nashville Records, Mercury Nashville Records, Lost Highway Records, Capitol Records Nashville and EMI Records Nashville. UMG Nashville not only handles these imprints, but also manages the country music catalogues of record labels Universal Music and predecessor companies acquired over the years including ABC Records, Decca Records, Dot Records, DreamWorks Records, Kapp Records, MGM Records and Polydor Records.

Electrola record label

Electrola is a German record label and subsidiary of Universal Music Group. Based in Munich, its roster includes Chumbawamba, Matthias Reim, Helene Fischer, Brings, Höhner and Santiano.

A&M Records American historical record label

A&M Records was an American record label founded as an independent company by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in 1962. Due to the success of the discography A&M released, the label garnered interest and was acquired by PolyGram in 1989 and began distributing releases from Polydor Ltd. from the UK. Throughout its operations, A&M housed well-known acts such as Gin Blossoms, Dishwalla, Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Captain & Tennille, Sting, Sergio Mendes, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Bryan Adams, Burt Bacharach, Liza Minnelli, The Carpenters, Paul Williams, Quincy Jones, Janet Jackson, Cat Stevens, Peter Frampton, Elkie Brooks, Carole King, Styx, Extreme, Amy Grant, Joan Baez, the Human League, The Police, CeCe Peniston, Blues Traveler, Soundgarden, Duffy and Sheryl Crow.

Emil Berliner Studios German sound studio

The Emil Berliner Studios, named after the inventor of the grammophone and the record, is a sound studio in the heart of Berlin. The studio originated from the recording department of Deutsche Grammophon.

References

  1. "Schellackplatten Label - Polyphon - Grammophon und Schellackplatten Portal 78rpm". grammophon-platten.de. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  2. Studios, Emil Berliner. "EMIL BERLINER STUDIOS - About us - Chronicle". emil-berliner-studios.com. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  3. Hoffmann, Frank (12 November 2004). "Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound". Routledge. Retrieved 17 February 2017 via Google Books.
  4. Studios, Emil Berliner. "EMIL BERLINER STUDIOS - About us - Chronicle". emil-berliner-studios.com. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  5. Dg-111.com Archived 5 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Inc, Nielsen Business Media (15 March 1969). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 17 February 2017 via Google Books.
  7. "Bee Gees - Album Discography - AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  8. Nielsen Business Media, Inc (21 September 1996). "Billboard".Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. Nielsen Business Media, Inc (14 May 1994). "Billboard".Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. "Stones ditching EMI for Universal". BBC News. 25 July 2008.