Disney Music Group
|Division of Walt Disney Studios|
|Industry||Music, music publishing|
|Headquarters||Burbank, California, U.S.|
|Ken Bunt, President|
|Products||Music albums, records, music videos|
|Parent||The Walt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)
|Divisions||Disney Music Publishing|
|Subsidiaries||Walt Disney Records
Disney Music Group (DMG) is the music production arm of The Walt Disney Company. The division consists of two affiliated record labels—Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records—and Disney Music Publishing, the publishing entity that administers the company's music. The president of the group is Ken Bunt, who reports to Alan F. Horn, the chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. It is currently headquartered in the Frank G. Wells Building at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.
Music was key to the Disney Brother Studios' success. Either public domain or original music were used for their cartoons. With neither Disney brother having any music industry experience, the studio had to rely on music publishers.[MTk 1] In 1928, Walt Disney's third animated short in production with Mickey Mouse and the one that made him a star was Steamboat Willie had a soundtrack while previous efforts were silent films. Thus soundtracks are added to the previously two produced Mickey Mouse short films.[ChWDC 1] In 1929, Walt Disney and Carl Stalling pen "Minnie's Yoo-Hoo", the first song from the Walt Disney Studio, for Mickey's Follies.[ChWDC 2] In the December 16, 1929 Walt Disney Studios partnership incorporation, Disney Film Recording Company, Limited is formed as a subsidiary of Walt Disney Productions.
Saul Bourne was one such music publisher at Irving Berlin Music approach the studio after seeing Disney's Three Little Pigs for its theme song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?", publishing rights. With Disney partnering with Bourne/Berlin lead to the song soon being recorded twice by the Don Bestor Orchestra released by Victor Records and Bill Scotti Orchestra released by Bluebird Records. The song was a hit and a Depression era Anthem.[MTk 1]
Disney Productions then started licensing out its music with the record company either selection its own or Disney's talent to record the music. Until 1936 no one had issued an actual song track recording on disc with RCA's HMV label released a selection of Disney short film music in England with the US release a year later.[MTk 1] The Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs sound track 3 album set from Victor was the first feature film sound track. Disney had sold its rights to the Snow White music to Bourne Co. Music as they badly needed the money to compete the movie.[MTk 2]
In 1938, the Fantasound, the first Surround sound system, was designed and test by Disney Productions for the Fantasia movie.[ChWDC 3] The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated Disney Productions received two Oscar Award nominations in 1943, "Bambi" film for Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and its song "Love is a Song" for category Music, Best Song.[ChWDC 4]
Disney sold its early cartoon, Pinocchio and Dumbo music to Bourne. To date all attempt to acquire them and Snow White's music back have failed. After Bambi, the World War II slowdown in the entertainment occurred reducing the creating of new feature length animation, with Disney either making feature length live films with some animation or themed short film into anthology films like Make Mine Music. The latter films contain the bulk of the more commercial music which was done by recording stars thus released by their record company.[MTk 2]
In April 1947, the Walt Disney Music Company (WDMC) was incorporated, with Fred Raphael putting the company together in late 1949 to publish and license songs from Cinderella.[MTk 3] Cinderella records appear in stores along with other merchandise in 1949 before the 1950 release of the movie. The RCA multi-album release was number 1 on the Billboard magazine pop charts. Disney music was moving into the big business level. While WDMC did not produce the records, Raphael handled the selection, performance and recording.[MTk 3]
James Alexander "Jimmy" Johnson, Jr., a fired Disney publicity staff member who wanted to stay at Disney and move through a series of jobs there in the traffic department, accounting then, after a stint in the military, assistant to the corporate secretary, which then handle merchandising issues amongst other additional duties. With Roy Disney's split off the merchandising division from Disney Production, Johnson became head of the merchandising division's publication department in 1950 and took on managing business affairs for the Disney Music Company. Raphael took the WDMC into creating original non-film music.[MTk 3] Disney Productions formed the Wonderland Music Company in 1951.
Disney next push into music came from the The Mickey Mouse Club as eight records for the show hit shelves the week it premiered on television. Disney Music Company partners, Golden Records and Am-Par Records, turned over production of the Club's music after a year to Disney leading to the Disneyland Record label and company.[MTk 4]
The Walt Disney Company traces the Disney Music Group back to the founding of Disneyland Records in 1956. In that year, the Walt Disney Music Company's Disneyland Records record company was founded on the strength of Fess Parker's 1954 hit recording of the Ballad of Davy Crockett using the Disneyland label which was licensed to Columbia Records. The Disneyland label issued its first album, A Child's Garden of Verses.[ChWDC 5] Also, Disneyland Records issued a Parker's "Wringle Wrangle" single from the "Westward Ho the Wagons!" film with in a year of starting operations; the single became a hit. This led the company to start recording music from outside the films. However, what ever was released by the company the industry categorized as children. Pricing was directed towards an adult audience, which was more than standard children fare. The only outside success was "Tutti's Trumpets". Thus in 1959, the Disneyland label became the children's label and Buena Vista label for the occasional pop song record.
Lyric Street Records label was founded in July 1997 as a division of Hollywood Records. Mammoth Records was purchased for $25 million by August 1997 to act an independent music label within Disney.
Buena Vista Music Group
The industry recognized founding of the group was in March 1998 with the reorganization in Disney that brought all Disney music labels into one unit, Buena Vista Music Group, in Walt Disney Studio. The group consisting of Hollywood Records, Buena Vista Records, Lyric Street Records and Mammoth Records with Walt Disney Records and Disney Music Publishing transferred out of Disney Consumer Products.
In September 2005, BVMG signed with EMI for distribution of its album in United Kingdom, Europe, South Africa and the Middle East replacing Warner Music Group. In November 2006, Disney Music Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music Inc. agreed to a licensing agreement for Europe and South America major markets.  In 2006, BVMG launched a concert production arm, Buena Vista Concerts starting with The Cheetah Girls: The Party’s Just Begun Tour and High School Musical: The Concert.
Disney Music Group
In April 2007, Disney decided to semi-retire the Buena Vista brand from the group's name. Lyric Street launched a subsidiary label, Carolwood Records, in October 2008 which was soon shuttered in November 2009. On April 14, 2010, Disney Music Group announced the closure of the Lyric Street label with some bands transferred to other branches of Disney Music Group and others dropped altogether.
- Walt Disney Records, the flagship label of the group, was founded in 1956 as Disneyland Records, so that Disney would not have to release through third-party labels not associated with the studio, such as RCA Victor or Capitol Records, which had issued Disney albums in the past. Under the Disneyland label, among its other recordings, the studio also released new soundtrack LP's of some of the animated Disney films, including, a 3-LP album set In monophonic sound of all of the classical music heard in Fantasia, perhaps the first soundtrack album containing virtually all the music from a feature-length film. (The "Meet the Soundtrack" intermission segment and the jam session were not included, and Deems Taylor's commentary was also omitted.) Disneyland Records released cover versions (rather than soundtracks) of the songs from some of the other animated films, such as Lady and the Tramp. In 1989, the label was renamed to its current branding and now releases a broad range of Disney-branded music, such as soundtracks to Walt Disney Pictures' films, original studio albums from Disney Channel artists, and compilations albums by Radio Disney.
- Hollywood Records, primarily focuses on pop, rock, alternative and country genres, as well as soundtracks from Marvel Studios' films, in conjunction with Marvel Music. Originally, the label was primarily a soundtrack label for non-Disney branded releases by Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures, with few major artists, like Queen. The label now releases music from a variety of major artists such as: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Plain White T's, Redlight King, ZZ Ward, and Bridgit Mendler.
- DMG Nashville, specializes in country music. The genre label was originally founded in 2013 to provide music licensing for Bigger Picture Music Group. After Bigger Picture's closure in 2014, DMG Nashville released its first studio album; Lucy Hale's Road Between.
- Disney Music Publishing, controls the publishing rights to music from Disney's film, television, theater and theme park divisions. Ancillary entities include Walt Disney Music Company, Wonderland Music Company, Agarita Music, Buena Vista Music Co., Falferious Music, Five Hundred South Songs, Holpic Music, Inc., Hollywood Pictures Music, Seven Peaks Music, Seven Summits Music, Touchstone Pictures Music & Songs, Inc., Walt Disney Music Company, and Wonderland Music Company.
- Buena Vista Records, a label founded in 1959 largely devoted to authentic soundtrack albums of mostly live-action Disney film musicals, such as Mary Poppins, The Happiest Millionaire, Summer Magic, and Babes in Toyland, as well as recordings by actors then under contract to Disney, such as Annette Funicello and Hayley Mills. Often, at the same time that Buena Vista Records released a genuine soundtrack album of one of the Disney movies, Disneyland Records, another, less expensive Disney label, would release a cover version of the songs from that film. Buena Vista Records also operates as an imprint of Walt Disney Records and most recently has been employed to serve as a pseudonym for certain releases by Walt Disney Records such as the more adult-oriented Almost Alice, as well as releasing traditional albums for Walt Disney Records adult artists such as Billy Ray Cyrus and Nathan Pacheco.
- Lyric Street Records, was an American record label specializing in country music. President Randy Goodman, formerly a general manager for RCA Records, founded the label in 1997. Among its first artists were Lari White, John Berry, Aaron Tippin, SHeDAISY and extremely popular Rascal Flatts. The label launched a short-lived subsidiary label, Carolwood Records, in October 2008. In April 2010 the label was folded into Hollywood Records.
- Mammoth Records, the formerly independent record label was founded by Jay Faires in 1989. In 1993 it became part of a joint venture with WEA-owned Atlantic Records but hit the market again in 1997, when it was bought by the then Buena Vista Music Group, up until which it was based in North Carolina. It had a very successful alternative artist roster including acts such as Antenna, Blake Babies, Chainsaw Kittens, Dash Rip Rock, Dillon Fence, Frente!, Fun-Da-Mental, Fu Manchu, Jason & the Scorchers, Joe Henry, Juliana Hatfield, Kill Creek, Machines of Loving Grace, the Bats, the Melvins, My Friend Steve, Seven Mary Three, Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Sidewinders, Vanilla Trainwreck, and Victoria Williams. In 2003, the label was folded into Hollywood Records.
Originally, Disney Music Group did not have its own distribution network, either in its native market of the US or internationally. It had a licensing deal with Warner Music Group from 1995 to 2005. Furthermore, Sony Music Entertainment was also a distributor of Hollywood Records' releases in mainland Asia. After the agreement with Warner expired, Disney engaged in distribution negotiations with other third-party companies.
In 2005, Disney relied mainly on Universal Music Group and EMI Music, given the territory. UMG's Universal Music Distribution was responsible for distribution in the United States, Canada, India and other territories across North America, South America and Asia (excluding Japan, where avex music creative Inc. handled distribution since July 1, 2014). Meanwhile, EMI conducted distribution in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and several other territories across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In both agreements, Disney handled its own marketing and other similar functions.
In September 2012, Universal Music Group acquired EMI and initially pledged not to renew EMI's European distribution license with Disney. However, in March 2013, Disney Music Group renegotiated their agreement with Universal Music Group, in which distribution and marketing rights were expanded on a worldwide basis, as a method of incuring collaboration between Disney's record labels and artists with Universal's production department. This allows DMG access to Universal's large roster of award-winning music producers and songwriters. In return, UMG now will have access to Disney's extensive marketing entities (including ABC, Radio Disney, Disney Channel, ABC Radio etc.) Russian distribution, as of November 2013, was assumed by Warner Music.
Seoul Records, now LOEN Entertainment - South Korea's biggest music distributor - formerly handled the Disney music catalog in the 1990s. The catalog was later acquired by S.M. Entertainment. (Universal Music Korea currently handles the Disney music catalog in South Korea.)
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Disney Music Group is home to Hollywood Records, Walt Disney Records, Disney Music Publishing, and DMG Nashville.
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