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|Virgin Records Ltd|
|Parent company||Universal Music Group|
|Defunct||2013 (In the UK)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
Virgin Records Ltd. is a Britishrecord label founded by entrepreneurs Richard Branson, Simon Draper, Nik Powell, and musician Tom Newman in 1972. It grew to be a worldwide phenomenon over time, with the success of platinum performers such as Aaliyah, George Michael, Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Roy Orbison, Devo, Tangerine Dream, Genesis, Keith Richards, the Human League, Culture Club, Simple Minds, Lenny Kravitz, dc Talk, the Smashing Pumpkins, Mike Oldfield, Gorillaz, Lewis Capaldi and Spice Girls, among others.
After its acquisition by Universal Music Group through its purchase of EMI in 2012, UMG absorbed Virgin's British operations to create Virgin EMI Records in March 2013.Today, the operations of Virgin Records America, Inc., the company's North American operations founded in 1986, are still active and headquartered in Hollywood, California, and have operated exclusively under the Capitol Music Group imprint, also owned by UMG, since 2007. The US operations have also taken on the name Virgin Records. A minor number of artists remain on Virgin Records America's roster, which is currently mostly occupied with European artists such as Bastille, Circa Waves, Corinne Bailey Rae, Ella Eyre, Grizfolk, Walking on Cars, Seinabo Sey, and Prides; American artists include Knox Hamilton, L'Tric, Loren Gray, and Rise Against.
Virgin Classics was founded in 1988 as part of Virgin Records. Along with EMI Classics, it too was acquired by Universal in 2012 as part of the takeover of the EMI Group. But the terms of the European Commission's approval of the takeover required divestment of the two classical labels. Accordingly both were sold in February the following year to Warner Music Group, and this transaction was approved by the European Union that May. Warner placed the Virgin Classics artist roster and catalogue in its Erato Records division, and the “Virgin Classics” name, along with “EMI Classics,” disappeared.
Branson and Powell had initially run a small record shop called Virgin Records and Tapes on Notting Hill Gate, London, specializing in "krautrock" imports, and offering bean bags and free vegetarian food for the benefit of customers listening to the music on offer.The first real store was above a shoe shop at the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street. After making the shop into a success, they turned their business into a fully fledged record label. The name Virgin, according to Branson (in his autobiography), arose from Tessa Watts, a colleague of his, when they were brainstorming business ideas. She suggested Virgin – as they were all new to business – like "virgins". The original Virgin logo (known to fans as the "Gemini" or "Twins" logo) was designed by English artist and illustrator Roger Dean: a young naked woman in mirror image with a large long-tailed serpent and the word "Virgin" in Dean's familiar script. A variation on the logo was used for the spin-off Caroline Records label.
The first release on the label was the progressive rock album Tubular Bells by multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield, who was discovered by Tom Newman and brought to Simon Draper – who eventually persuaded Richard and Nik to present it as their first release in 1973, produced by Tom Newman, for which the fledgling label garnered unprecedented acclaim. [ citation needed ]. Other early albums include Gong's Flying Teapot (Radio Gnome Invisible, Pt. 1) , which Daevid Allen has been quoted as having never been paid for.[ citation needed ]This was soon followed by some notable krautrock releases, including electronic breakthrough album Phaedra by Tangerine Dream (which went Top 20), and The Faust Tapes and Faust IV by Faust. The Faust Tapes album retailed for 49p (the price of a 7" single) and as a result allowed this relatively unknown band to reach number 12 in the album charts
The first single release for the label was Kevin Coyne's "Marlene" (b/w "Everybody Says"), taken from his album Marjory Razorblade and released in August 1973.Coyne was the second artist signed to the label after Oldfield.
Although Virgin was initially one of the key labels of English and European progressive rock, the 1977 signing of the Sex Pistols (who had already been signed and then dropped by both EMI and A&M) reinvented the label as a new-wave outpost, a move that plunged the record company into the mainstream of the punk rock era.Under the guidance of Tessa Watts, Virgin's Head of Publicity (and later, also Director of Production), the Pistols rocketed the label to success. Shortly afterwards, the Nottingham record shop was raided by police for having a window display of the Sex Pistols' album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols in the window. Afterwards they signed other new wave groups: Public Image Ltd, Boxer, Culture Club, Fingerprintz, Gillan, Holly and the Italians, Human League (whose "Don't You Want Me" was the label's first chart-topping single, in 1981), Magazine, Skids, the Motors, Penetration, the Ruts, Shooting Star, Simple Minds, and XTC.
After modified versions of the twins label came the red, white and blue design introduced in 1975, which coincided with the height of punk and new wave.The current Virgin logo (known informally as "the scrawl") was created in 1978, commissioned by Simon Draper, then managing director of Virgin Records Limited. Brian Cooke of Cooke Key Associates commissioned a graphic designer to produce a stylised signature. The logo was first used on Mike Oldfield's Incantations album in 1978 and by the Virgin Records label exclusively until gradually other parts of the Virgin Group adopted it, including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Money.
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The Virgin label was distributed in the US by Atlantic from 1973 to 1975. During this period, 14 albums were issued. All had been previously issued in the UK on Virgin, although one album, Marjory Razorblade by Kevin Coyne, was truncated from a 20-song double album to an 11-song single album.
Beginning with Mike Oldfield's Ommadawn album in 1975, American distribution switched to Columbia Records. Columbia was unwilling to release all Virgin artists, and so many were licensed to other labels: Epic (the sister company of Columbia) (Mike Oldfield [1980s releases], Culture Club, Holly and the Italians, some XTC , and Shooting Star), Atlantic (Julian Lennon), A&M (UB40, Human League, Simple Minds, Breathe, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and The Blue Nile), Warner Bros. (Sex Pistols, Scritti Politti, DEVO), Geffen (XTC - 1983 on), MCA (Tangerine Dream, Belinda Carlisle), RCA (the soundtrack of 1984 ) and Arista (Heaven 17, Jermaine Stewart). Some of these records had a small Virgin logo added to the regular company design on the label. One of Virgin's and Epic's biggest acts of the 1980s was Culture Club.
In 1978, Virgin set up US operations first in New York on Perry Street under Atlantic distribution, and then moved operations to New Jersey along with a short-lived subdivision called Virgin International, handled by independent New Jersey-based distributor Jem Records. Virgin International used mainly for progressive rock artists with a smaller following in the US, including reissues of earlier Virgin / Atlantic albums such as Hergest Ridge by Mike Oldfield, and Fish Rising by Steve Hillage, which Columbia chose not to reissue. Virgin International also issued albums by some of Virgin's reggae artists, including Gregory Isaacs. At the same time, Virgin releases distributed by Columbia continued, distribution returning to Atlantic (later WEA) in 1980, at which time Virgin International ceased operations.
In 1986, Virgin Records opened up another American division, Virgin Records America. Its first release was the debut album by Cutting Crew which included the hit single "(I Just) Died in Your Arms". Other Virgin America signings included Camper Van Beethoven, Bob Mould, Warren Zevon, Paula Abdul, T'pau, Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers, Redhead Kingpin & The F.B.I., Neneh Cherry, Steve Winwood and Hindsight. Virgin Records America's releases were distributed through WEA again by Atlantic Records until 1992. Virgin Records America was founded by the executive team of Jordan Harris, Jeff Ayeroff and Phil Quartararo.
Another American company called Caroline Records co-existed during this time. Caroline records rarely mentioned a connection with Virgin, and some UK and European Virgin albums that were distributed internationally (instead of being manufactured in each country) named Caroline as their American distributor. Some Caroline records bore the label name Caroline Blue Plate.
The first Canadian editions were distributed by WEA, and were parallel issues of the same early 14 albums issued in the US by Virgin/Atlantic.
In 1975, distribution transferred to Columbia (as it had in the US), but the following year distribution was transferred again to Polydor Records (which changed its name to PolyGram by 1980), and issued a different and larger selection of records from what was being issued in the US. Canadian editions of the Dindisc label were issued as Dindisc/Virgin. Virgin's Canadian division arranged to have Canadian artists Martha and the Muffins and Nash the Slash signed to Dindisc in the UK as well; both artists had releases in Canada and the UK on Dindisc.
In 1983, an independent Virgin Records Canada Inc. company was created, three years before a similar move occurred in the US. From this time onward, Virgin Canada used unique label designs not seen in other countries: a red label with five horizontal bars across the top and an extra-large "scrawl" logo from 1983 to 1985, followed by a purple label with round logo up to 1992 when Virgin was acquired internationally.
Virgin Records was sold by Branson to Thorn EMI in June 1992 for a reported US$1 billion (around £560 million),with a special non-competition clause that would prevent Branson from founding another recording company during the five years following the agreement (see the final paragraph in EU Merger Decision IV/M202 of 27.04.1992). It now faces competition from Branson's new label: V2 Records. Branson sold Virgin Records to fund Virgin Atlantic Airways which at that time was coming under intense anti-competitive pressure from British Airways. (In 1993 BA settled a libel action brought by Branson, giving him £500,000 and a further £110,000 to his airline).
After being acquired by Thorn EMI, Virgin launched several subsidiaries like Realworld Records, Innocent Records, blues speciality label Point Blank Records, and Hut Records, and continued signing new and established artists like Korn, A Fine Frenzy, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Tina Turner, Depeche Mode, Beenie Man, The Rolling Stones, Spice Girls, The Smashing Pumpkins, We Are Scientists, Darren Hayes, The Kooks, Lenny Kravitz, dcTalk (mainstream releases, contract ended in 2000), Captain Beefheart, Meat Loaf, Placebo, Janet Jackson (contract ended in 2006), Daft Punk (contract ended in 2008), My Favorite Highway, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Massive Attack, The Future Sound of London, Blur (US), The Chemical Brothers, Gorillaz, Paula Abdul (contract ended in 1999), Brooke Allison, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, The Almost, Mariah Carey (contract ended in 2001), N.E.R.D., Laura Marling, Swami, RBD, Thalía and Priscilla Renea.
In 1997, Virgin absorbed the remainder of EMI Records US, which earlier consolidated EMI America Records and Manhattan Records, with Capitol Records acquiring EMI's other American operations, and in 1998, opened a country music division called Virgin Records Nashville, of which record producer Scott Hendricks was president.The label's signees comprised Julie Reeves, Jerry Kilgore, Roy D. Mercer, Tom Mabe, Chris Cagle, Clay Davidson, and River Road. In 2001, Virgin Nashville closed and its roster was folded into Capitol Records' Nashville division.
Capitol Records and Virgin Records America were merged in 2007 to create Capitol Music Group after a massive restructuring of EMI Group Ltd.Stepping down as chief executive of Capitol Records was Andy Slater, with Jason Flom, former executive of Virgin, taking the reins as chairman and CEO of the newly created company.
Soon after Virgin Records was founded, the label created a music publisher for its artists, who also served as songwriters. Starting in the 1980s, Virgin Music signed songwriters from other record labels. After Virgin was acquired by EMI, the publisher was folded into EMI Music Publishing as EMI Virgin Music.
In 2012, a consortium led by Sony/ATV Music Publishing acquired EMI Music Publishing for $2.2 billion.However, the European Union ruled that Sony/ATV would represent over half of all the charting hits in the United Kingdom, and required the company to auction off Virgin Music and Famous Music UK, as well as twelve unrelated authors.
In December 2012, BMG Rights Management acquired the Virgin and Famous publishers,and concluded the deal in May 2013. Virgin Music was renamed BMG VM Music, while Famous Music became BMG FM Music.
Before its demise, Virgin Music's songwriters included Iggy Pop, Texas, Ozzy Osbourne, Cannibal Corpse, Nirvana, Winger, Wax, Tears for Fears, The Prodigy, Goo Goo Dolls, Tool, The Crystal Method, Terence Trent D'arby, Lenny Kravitz, Ben Harper, Warrant, Mark Ronson, Devo, Culture Club, Take That, Bullet For My Valentine, Robbie Williams, Wayne Hector, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
Parlophone Records Limited is a German-British record label founded in Germany in 1896 by the Carl Lindström Company as Parlophon. The British branch of the label was founded on 8 August 1923 as The Parlophone Company Limited, which developed a reputation in the 1920s as a jazz record label. On 5 October 1926, the Columbia Graphophone Company acquired Parlophone's business, name, logo, and release library, and merged with the Gramophone Company on 31 March 1931 to become Electric & Musical Industries Limited (EMI). George Martin joined Parlophone in 1950 as assistant label manager, taking over as manager in 1955. Martin produced and released a mix of recordings, including by comedian Peter Sellers, pianist Mrs Mills, and teen idol Adam Faith.
EMI Group Limited was a British transnational conglomerate founded in March 1931 in London. At the time of its break-up in 2012, it was the fourth largest business group and record label conglomerate in the music industry, and was one of the "Big Four" record companies. Its labels included EMI Records, Parlophone, Virgin Records, and Capitol Records, which are now owned by other companies.
Capitol Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Capitol Music Group imprint. It was founded as the first West Coast-based record label "of note" in the United States in 1942 by Johnny Mercer, Buddy DeSylva, and Glenn E. Wallichs. Capitol was acquired by British music conglomerate EMI as its North American subsidiary in 1955. EMI was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2012 and was merged with the company a year later, making Capitol and the Capitol Music Group both a part of UMG. The label's circular headquarter building in Hollywood is a recognized landmark of California.
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.
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. The biggest music company in the world, it is one of the "Big Three" record labels, along with Sony Music and Warner Music Group. Ten percent of Universal Music Group was acquired by Tencent Holdings in January 2020 for $3 billion US.
Caroline Records is a record label originally founded in 1973. Initially founded in the United Kingdom to showcase British progressive rock groups, the label ceased releasing titles in 1976 and the re-emerged in the United States in 1986 to release the work of American punk, post-punk and alternative rock bands. Caroline has or had a number of subsidiary labels including Astralwerks, Gyroscope, Caroline Blue Plate, Beat the World, Scamp, and Passenger.
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 Bobby Vinton, 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.
Imperial Records is an American record company and label started in 1947 by Lew Chudd. The label was reactivated in 2006 by EMI, which owned the label and back catalogue at the time. Imperial is owned by Universal Music Group.
V2 Records is a record label that was purchased by Universal Music Group in 2007 and sold to [PIAS] in 2013.
Vertigo Records is a record company, which originated in the United Kingdom. It was a subsidiary of the Philips/Phonogram record label, launched in 1969 to specialise in progressive rock and other non-mainstream musical styles. Today it is operated by Universal Music UK.
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.
The Famous Charisma Label was a British record label founded in 1969 by former journalist Tony Stratton-Smith. He had previously acted as manager for rock bands such as The Nice, the Bonzo Dog Band and Van der Graaf Generator. Gail Colson was label manager and joint managing director.
EMI Music Japan Inc. was one of Japan's leading music companies. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of British music company EMI Group Ltd. in June 30, 2007, after Toshiba sold off its previous 45% stake. Its CEO and president was Kazuhiko Koike. When EMI Music Japan was trading as Toshiba-EMI, it was involved with the production of anime. On April 1, 2013, the company became defunct, following its absorption into Universal Music Japan as a sublabel under the name EMI Records Japan.
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.
Manhattan Records is an American record label, owned by Universal Music Group and operates as a branch of Capitol Music Group.
Capitol Music Group is an American front line umbrella label owned by the Universal Music Group (UMG). It oversees handling of record labels assigned to UMG's Capitol Records division and was inherited from its acquisition of EMI's catalog. It is one of five umbrella labels owned by UMG, the other four being Interscope Geffen A&M, Island Records, Def Jam Recordings and Republic Records. Labels distributed under the CMG brand include Capitol Records, Virgin Records, Motown Records, Blue Note Records, Astralwerks, Harvest Records, Capitol Christian Music Group, Priority Records, Atom Factory Entertainment and Deep Well Records.
"Mike Oldfield's Single" is the debut single by musician Mike Oldfield, released in 1974. The A-side is a variation of one of the themes from Oldfield's 1973 debut album, Tubular Bells, and was made in response to an American single containing an excerpt from Tubular Bells which Oldfield did not authorise. After its use in the box office success The Exorcist, "Tubular Bells" reached #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
Capitol Music Group Sweden is a Swedish music company, which forms part of Universal Music Sweden. The company was formed following Universal Music Sweden's full ownership acquisition of Lionheart Music Group. The company consists of several record labels as well as operations in music production and publishing, artist management, and live-entertainment production.
Virgin EMI Records is a British record label owned by the Universal Music Group that was formed in 2013.