|Parent company||Sony Music Entertainment|
|Distributor(s)||Sony Music Entertainment|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||New York City|
Epic Records is an American record label that runs as a division of Sony Music Entertainment. Originally conceived as a jazz imprint in 1953, it has since expanded to represent various genres. Today, the company is one of three main flagship labels for Sony Music, with the other two being Columbia Records and RCA Records and since 2011, is managed by CEO's L.A. Reid and Sylvia Rhone.
Epic Records was launched in 1953 by Columbia Records for the purpose of marketing jazz, pop and classical music that did not fit the theme of its more mainstream Columbia Records label. Initial classical music releases were from Philips Records which distributed Columbia product in Europe Pop talent on co-owned Okeh Records were transferred to Epic which made Okeh a rhythm and blues label. Epic's bright-yellow, black, and blue logo became a familiar trademark for many jazz and classical releases. This has included such notables as the Berlin Philharmonic, Charles Rosen, the Juilliard String Quartet, Antal Doráti conducting the Hague Philharmonic and George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra.
Expansion of genres and mainstream success
By 1960, the label's musical base had been expanded to include all genres. This was done in part to prevent the roster of Columbia Records (which, at the time, had a reputation for releasing material by more established acts) from being overstuffed with newer artists. Subsequently, Epic became better known for its signing of newer, fledgling acts. By the end of the 1960s, Epic earned its first gold records and had evolved into a formidable hit-making force in rock and roll, R&B and country music. Among its many acts, it included Roy Hamilton, Bobby Vinton, The Dave Clark Five, The Hollies, Tammy Wynette, Donovan, The Yardbirds, Lulu, July, Helen Shapiro and Jeff Beck. Several of the British artists on the Epic roster during the 1960s were the result of CBS's Epic/Okeh units' international distribution deal with EMI; Epic recordings were issued by EMI on the Columbia label.
Also during the 1960s, Epic oversaw the smaller subsidiary CBS labels including: Okeh Records and Date Records. In 1968, the Epic imprint was added in the UK and distributed by CBS after the distribution deal with EMI expired that year.
Epic was involved in a notable "trade" of artists. Graham Nash was signed to Epic because of his membership in The Hollies. When the newly formed Crosby, Stills & Nash wanted to sign with Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegün worked out a deal with Clive Davis whereby Richie Furay's new band Poco (having signed with Atlantic due to Furay's contract from being in the Buffalo Springfield) would sign with Epic.
Epic's commercial success continued to grow in the 1970s with releases from ABBA in the UK, Boston, Cheap Trick, The Clash, Charlie Daniels, Gabriel, Heart, Heatwave, The Isley Brothers, The Jacksons, George Jones, Labelle, Meat Loaf, Johnny Nash, Ted Nugent, REO Speedwagon, Minnie Riperton, Pegasus, Charlie Rich, Sly & the Family Stone, Steve Vai, and Edgar Winter. Also contributing to the labels success was its distribution of Philadelphia International Records, which produced additional hit records by acts such as The Three Degrees and McFadden and Whitehead.
Its 1980s and 1990s mainstream success were fueled by its signing and releasing of albums by notable acts such as Michael Jackson, Shakin' Stevens, Culture Club, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, Adam Ant, Living Colour, Prong, Dead or Alive, Europe, Cyndi Lauper, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, Sade, Luther Vandross, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Céline Dion among others. The label's greatest pay-dirt achievement came with the release Thriller, the 1982 album by Michael Jackson, which went on to achieve approximately 51-65 million in worldwide sales, becoming the biggest selling album in history.
More recently, other successful acts on the label have included Anastacia, Jennifer Lopez, The Fray, Shakira, Korn, Fiona Apple, Ozzy Osbourne, Nate Storm, Modest Mouse, Chevelle, JLS, Mandy Moore, and Rage Against the Machine.
Sony bought CBS Records in 1987, and the company was renamed Sony Music in 1991. In 2004, Sony merged with another powerhouse music distributor, BMG, bringing labels such as RCA, Arista, Columbia, Epic, Jive, and many others under one parent company, Sony BMG. In February 2009, singer/songwriter Amanda Ghost was appointed president of Epic Records. Later in the year, Sony BMG Music (during a reconsolidation of labels) merged Epic and Columbia's operations, and subsequently formed the Columbia/Epic Label Group — but both labels continue to operate as separate brands. Sony BMG's Legacy Recordings reissues the company's classic and catalog titles.
In addition, in the 1990s, European operations of Sony Music was integrated into two separate labels, Epic and Columbia. It was followed by Australian and New Zealand operation of Sony Music in 1997.
The Japanese operation is called Epic Records Japan Inc..
2010 to present: Epic under L.A. Reid and Sylvia Rhone
In July 2011, L.A. Reid became the CEO of the Epic Records which also includes various former Jive Records artists. Reid has already begun a new "era" in signing artists, having signed up YouTube sensation Karmin. Through Sony Music Entertainment's restructuring, artists such as TLC, Toni Braxton, Avril Lavigne, Outkast, Future, Yo Gotti and Ciara have joined Epic. Epic also signs the winners of The X Factor.
As of April 2014, Epic Records was home to 51 artists. L.A. Reid was reportedly interested into signing Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, but both turned down Epic, saying that they were happy releasing material independently. On March 18, 2014, it was reported that Rhone would be president of Epic, accompanying Reid. Rhone was formerly CEO of Universal Motown Records until 2011.
In November 2014, it was announced that Mosley Music Group created a joint venture with Sony Music, and that the imprint would be distributed by Epic. It formerly operated under Interscope Geffen A&M from 2006 until late 2014. In the terms of the new partnership, Epic would provide marketing, publicity, handle distribution and overall label services for the imprint. The joint venture was created due to Timbaland's recent collaboration with L.A. Reid on Michael Jackson's "Xscape". Most of MMG's roster would be registered under the Epic imprint, with OneRepublic to remain with Interscope Records.
On January 30, 2015, it was announced that Mariah Carey had left her former label, Def Jam Recordings, to reunite with Reid at Epic, whom signed Carey to Def Jam via The Island Def Jam Music Group in 2003. That same month, it was announced that R&B group Jodeci had signed to the label, with plans to release their first studio album in 20 years.
On February 13, 2015, it was reported that singer Janelle Monae has made a joint venture with Epic Records with her imprint Wondaland Records. Acts on Wondaland include, Jidenna, St. Beauty, Deep Cotton, and Roman Gianarthur. Monae made a statement upon the deal, "I'm so thrilled to share Wondaland Records with the world. Each artist under Wondaland Records has unparalleled talent, incredible vision, and brings something unique to the music industry," said Janelle Monáe. "Together, we're creating a new movement and space for the future of music and pop culture. I'm honored to be partnering with Epic Records and my friend LA Reid to present such extraordinary talent."
The following is a list of labels Epic Records has distributed:
- Mosley Music Group (2014–present)
- Beluga Heights (2008–present)
- Collective Music Group (2012–present)
- DC Flag Records (2004–present)
- Freebandz (2012–present)
- Immortal Records (1994–present)
- Glowworm Records (2002–present)
- Battery Records (2004–present)
- Verity Gospel Music Group (2008–present)
- Vested in Culture (2012–Present)
- Wondaland Records (2015-)
- Volcano Entertainment (2006–present)
- 550 Music (1993–2000)
- Beluga Heights Records (2006–2008)
- Blue Sky (1974-1982)
- Caribou Records (1976-1985)
- Cold Chillin' Records (1993–1999)
- Date Records (1960s)
- Epic Records Nashville (? - May 2006)
- Epic Street (1993–1998)
- Cleveland International Records (1976-1983)
- CTI Records (1980)
- Tuff City Records (1983–1984)
- Hidden Beach Records (1998–2007)
- Gamble (1972-1975)
- Glacial Pace (mid-1990s)
- Invictus Records (1973-1976)
- Jet Records (1978-1983)
- Kirshner Records (1974-1983)
- MJJ Music (1991–2001, 2010)
- Nemperor Records (1977-1990)
- Ode Records (1967–1969, 1976–1979)
- OKeh Records (1965–1970, 1994–2000)
- Pasha Records (1979-1990)
- Philadelphia International Records (1971–1984)
- Portrait Records (1976–1992)
- Ruthless Records (1990, 1999-2009, defunct)
- Scotti Brothers (1979-1988)
- SOLAR Records (1989–1993)
- T-Neck Records (1972-1984)
- Tabu Records (1978–1991)
- TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) (1975-1977) (1981-1982)
- Work Records (1994–2000)
- Virgin Records (1976-1978), (1982-1986)
Epic Records artists
- A Great Big World
- Andre 3000
- Avril Lavigne (Internationally with Epic; Domestically with Columbia UK)
- Bando Jonez
- Big Boi
- Bobby Shmurda
- Casey Veggies
- Cashius Green
- Curtis Fields
- Dead Sara
- Dragana Mirkovic
- Fifth Harmony
- Fiona Apple
- Glee Cast. (UK)
- In Flames
- Joe Satriani
- Jonn Hart
- Jon Jonsson
- Judas Priest
- JLS (US)
- Kat Dahlia
- Kevin McHale
- King L
- Lamb of God
- Mariah Carey
- Meghan Trainor
- Michael Jackson (deceased)
- Modest Mouse
- Morgan James
- Melanie Amaro
- Mr. Probz
- New Hollow
- Nicole Scherzinger
- Olly Murs (UK)
- Ozzy Osbourne
- Paloma Faith (RCA Records Label in the UK)
- Rough Copy
- Rowdy Rebel
- Sara Bareilles
- Sean Kingston
- Snootie Wild
- Tamar Braxton
- Tinashe (UK)
- The Airborne Toxic Event
- The Fray
- The Last Internationale
- Travi$ Scott
- Vinny Cha$e and Kid Art
- Watch The Duck
- We Are Toonz
- Yo Gotti
- Zara Larsson
- List of record labels
- Epic/Sony Records (Japanese branch of Epic Records)
- RCA Records
- Columbia Records
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- Epic Records – Official website
- Sony Music, Parent Company of Epic
- Epic Records on Myspace
- Epic US/UK A&R team contact list