Portrait Records

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Portrait Records
Portrait logo.png
Parent company Sony Music
Founded1976 (1976)
Distributor(s) Sony Masterworks
GenreVarious (1976–1986)
Contemporary jazz (1988–1990)
Hard rock, metal (1999–2002)
Classical Crossover (2013–)
Country of originU.S.

Portrait Records was a sister label of Epic Records and later of Columbia Records. Notable artists Cyndi Lauper and Sade signed with Portrait, but their contracts were absorbed by Epic after that incarnation of the label was shuttered.

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.

Epic Records American record label

Epic Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, Inc., the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. The label was founded predominantly as a jazz and classical music label in 1953, but later expanded its scope to include a more diverse range of genres, including pop, R&B, rock, and hip hop. Epic Records has released music by artists including Glenn Miller, Tammy Wynette, George Michael, The Yardbirds, Donovan, Shakin Stevens, Europe, Cheap Trick, Meat Loaf, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ted Nugent, Shakira, Sly & the Family Stone, The Hollies, Celine Dion, ABBA, Culture Club, Boston, Dave Clark Five, Gloria Estefan, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, and Michael Jackson. Along with Arista, Columbia and RCA Records, Epic is one of Sony Music Entertainment's four flagship record labels.

Columbia Records American record label; currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment

Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.

Contents

History & Overview

Portrait began in 1976 as a sister label of Epic; its initial signings were Joan Baez, Burton Cummings, and the McCrarys. Cummings' "Stand Tall" was the lead-off single. Baez's Blowin' Away album and the McCrarys' self-titled debut bowed in early 1977. The label design was similar to that of Columbia's singles; design on it was in grey tones, while the logo was handwritten orange with a red outline. This was also the launch of Epic/Portrait/Associated (EPA) under the CBS moniker.

1976 in music Overview of the events of 1976 in music

A list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1976.

Joan Baez American singer

Joan Chandos Baez is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist whose contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest or social justice. Baez has performed publicly for over 60 years, releasing over 30 albums. Fluent in Spanish and English, she has also recorded songs in at least six other languages. Although generally regarded as a folk singer, her music has diversified since the counterculture era of the 1960s, and encompasses genres such as folk rock, pop, country, and gospel music.

Burton Cummings Canadian musician

Burton Lorne Cummings, is a Canadian musician, singer and songwriter.

One of the signings the label had was the band Heart. The band had been signed with Mushroom Records, but left after a dispute in advertising their Dreamboat Annie album. The print ads led some fans to think that the sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson were lesbians. Portrait snatched the group up quickly, releasing the single "Barracuda" before Little Queen was to hit the shelves. The McCrarys also scored big with "You".

Heart (band) American rock band

Heart is an American rock band that first found success in Canada and later in the United States and worldwide. Over the group's five-decade history, it has had three primary lineups, with the constant center of the group since 1973 being sisters Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson. Heart rose to fame in the mid-1970s with music influenced by hard rock and heavy metal, as well as folk music. Their popularity declined in the early 1980s, but in 1985, the band launched a successful comeback which saw them experience greater success with album-oriented rock hits and hard-rock ballads that went into the 1990s.

Mushroom Records was a Canadian independent record label founded in Vancouver, British Columbia with financial backing by brothers Wink and Dick Vogel in 1974. The brothers were sons of businessman and politician Hunter Vogel. Shelly Siegel was the label's Vice-president and creative director. Producer Mike Flicker also worked with the company. Mushroom released approximately 15 LP titles and 50 singles between 1974 and 1980.

Advertising form of communication for marketing, typically paid for

Advertising is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea. Sponsors of advertising are typically businesses wishing to promote their products or services. Advertising is differentiated from public relations in that an advertiser pays for and has control over the message. It differs from personal selling in that the message is non-personal, i.e., not directed to a particular individual. Advertising is communicated through various mass media, including traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, outdoor advertising or direct mail; and new media such as search results, blogs, social media, websites or text messages. The actual presentation of the message in a medium is referred to as an advertisement, or "ad" or advert for short.

By 1979, however, Epic was looking to consolidate some of its low-end producing labels and, for a short time, Portrait and Epic had both names on the same label. In 1980, only Heart was picked up from Portrait; releasing Bébé le Strange , after which they took a two-year hiatus, releasing Private Audition in 1982.

<i>Bébé le Strange</i> 1980 studio album by Heart

Bébé le Strange is the fifth studio album by the American rock band Heart. It was released on February 14, 1980 through Epic Records. It was the first album without founding member Roger Fisher on lead guitar, who had left the band months prior along with his brother Michael.

<i>Private Audition</i> 1982 studio album by Heart

Private Audition is the sixth studio album, released by hard rock band Heart, released in 1982. The album was on the U.S. Billboard 200 for fourteen weeks, peaking at number twenty-five. It contained the hit single "This Man Is Mine". It is the last Heart album to feature longtime members Mike DeRosier and Steve Fossen, who left after the recording of the album and were replaced by Denny Carmassi and Mark Andes. The album has sold around 400,000 copies in the United States.

Baez left the label after the release of her 1979 Honest Lullaby album; she later admitted in her 1987 memoir, And a Voice to Sing With, that she regretted signing with the label, describing her having left her previous label (A&M) for Portrait as "the stupidest career move I ever made".

<i>Honest Lullaby</i> 1979 studio album by Joan Baez

Honest Lullaby is a 1979 album by Joan Baez. It would be her final album on CBS Records' Portrait imprint, and her last new studio album issued in the U.S. until 1987. The autobiographical title song was written for her son, Gabriel Harris, and was performed on The Muppet Show in 1980. In addition to her own compositions, the album contained work by Janis Ian and Jackson Browne. "Let Your Love Flow" was originally a 1976 hit for The Bellamy Brothers. In her 1987 memoir, And a Voice to Sing With, Baez speculated that she was likely dropped from CBS due to a political disagreement she'd had with the label's then-president.

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 Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Captain & Tennille, Sting, Sergio Mendes, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Bryan Adams, Burt Bacharach, Liza Minnelli, The Carpenters, Paul Williams, 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.

In 1982, the label was relaunched again tapping into the new wave scene and other music not gaining any airplay. It signed artists such as Altered Images, Aldo Nova, Accept, Arc Angel, Hawaiian Pups, The Elvis Brothers, Eddy Grant, Orion the Hunter, The Producers, Saga, and Peter Baumann (formerly of Tangerine Dream). The label was completely black but the red logo stayed intact. Portrait struck gold again with the signings of Cyndi Lauper and Sade, both in 1983. Americans wouldn't get Sade until a year later. Aldo Nova did make some headway with the songs "Fantasy" and "Monkey on Your Back" from his Subject...Aldo Nova album. Saga also found success with the songs "On the Loose" and "Wind Him Up", which would gain the band gold and platinum albums worldwide. In 1985, British singer Toyah released her album Minx on Portrait. In 1986, British guitarist and songwriter Bill Nelson released Getting the Holy Ghost Across (US title: On a Blue Wing) on the label.

New wave is a genre of rock music popular in the late 1970s and the 1980s with ties to mid-1970s punk rock. New wave moved away from blues and rock and roll sounds to create rock music or pop music (later) that incorporated disco, mod, and electronic music. Initially new wave was similar to punk rock, before becoming a distinct genre. It subsequently engendered subgenres and fusions, including synth-pop.

Altered Images early 1980s Scottish new wave/post-punk band

Altered Images were an early 1980s Scottish new wave/post-punk band. Fronted by singer Clare Grogan, the band branched into mainstream pop music, having six UK top 40 hit singles and three top 30 albums between 1981 and 1983. Their hits included "Happy Birthday", "I Could Be Happy", "See Those Eyes", and "Don't Talk to Me About Love".

Aldo Nova is a Canadian guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist, songwriter, and producer. Nova initially gained fame with his self-titled debut album Aldo Nova in 1982 which climbed to Billboard's number 8 position, and its accompanying single, "Fantasy", which climbed to number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

By the end of 1986, the only act making money on this label was Lauper.[ citation needed ] Her album True Colors went platinum, but it wasn't enough to keep the label afloat. At the end of 1986, Portrait was shuttered again.

In 1988, the label re-emerged once more but as a contemporary jazz outfit, with signings as diverse as Stanley Clarke, Ornette Coleman, Prime Time and Japanese import T-Square. The logo changed dramatically. This time the label had two: the primary one was a painted P with the word "portrait" in a red block, while the secondary one was an outline drawing of a woman. This one was gone by 1990.

Epic did try to make the label work two more times: in 1992, it was trying to do jazz collections, and in 1999, it was relaunched through Columbia Records as a hard-rock/metal label, signing Ratt, Cinderella, Great White, the Union Underground, and Mars Electric. In 2000, Iron Maiden signed with Portrait in conjunction with Columbia Records in the US. Finally, after trying so hard to keep it afloat, Portrait dissolved in 2002 after the US release of Iron Maiden's Rock in Rio album.

In late 2012, Sony Masterworks reactivated the label as a classical music imprint with its first artists, The Piano Guys on the newly relaunched imprint, and transferring Jackie Evancho to Portrait from the Columbia imprint.

Artists

Under Epic

Under Columbia

Under Sony Masterworks

See also

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References

  1. Baez, Joan (1987). And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir. London: Century Hutchinson. ISBN   0-7126-1827-9.
  2. Toyah "Minx" (1985) at Discogs.com