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EMI is credited for founding the record business in Greece in the 1930s, by producing the first records and building the country's first recording studio.
Founding of recorded music in Greece
In 1930, British Columbia Graphophone Company and Gramophone Company, which a year later merged to form EMI Group, formed a partnership along with Greek investor Lambropoulos Brothers Limited to produce records in Greece. By 1931, company operations were in full swing and the first disc produced in Greece had been pressed under the company name EMIAL. After five years of using the halls of large hotels to record songs, EMIAL built Greece's first recording studio and became the front runner in the Greek music industry for many years. The company continued to be incorporated as EMIAL, although it predominantly used the trade name EMI Greece. EMI's domestic Greek releases during this period generally came out bearing the company's British legacy labels, including Columbia, HMV, and Parlophone, as well as the Odeon label.
Merger with Minos Matsas & Son
In 1991, EMIAL purchased a controlling share of Minos Matsas & Son, a record company founded by pioneering Greek music industry executive and prominent rebetiko musician Minos Matsas. At the time of the acquisition, "Minos Matsas & Son" was led by CEO Makis Matsas, who became CEO of the new entity.
The new company was named Minos EMI and thus controlled approximately one-third of the Greek market, as Minos Matsas & Son held a 22% market share, while EMIAL held 9%. The labour union at Minos Matsas was unsatisfied that EMI Greece was now controlling Minos Matsas, as EMI Greece opted to engage in closures at layoffs at Minos Matsas, instead of fully integrating the existing company into EMI Greece's operations. The two distribution centers merged into one at EMI Greece's historical building, which was located in the Athens suburb of Rizoupoli, while most of the remaining staff joined Minos Matsas' offices on Messogeion Avenue. EMI Greece CFO Panayotis Papalimberis was retained, while the artistic direction went to Minos A&R managers: Achileas Theofilou, Elias Benettos and Vangelis Yannopoulos. EMI Greece's international repertoire manager, Manos Xydous, was chosen to undertake a domestic A&R role by launching the EMI label Harvest Records as a domestic repertoire imprint. Finally, a new Managing Director was appointed, Costas Bourmas, who came from the same position at Sony Music Greece.
The Minos label saw a continuity as a local A&R imprint. Other artists, who were not specifically under the Minos A&R operation, generally carried the EMI label only. The distinction of artists by imprint was usually only carried out on CD covers, reflecting internal A&R management.
Heritage of the Minos EMI back catalogue
The Minos EMI back catalogue — both from the inheritance of the EMIAL and Minos Matsas & Son discographies — carries important works of Greek music heritage of the twentieth century in all genres, although most notably in the genres of Rebetiko and Laïko. Minos EMI actively exploits its catalogue by digitally remastering works for re-releases, compilations and special releases, and by licensing to third parties engaged in the strategic marketing of back catalogue discographies.
Parent company EMI Group has chosen music from Minos EMI's back catalogue for release through other EMI companies around the world, such as under their world music label EMI Hemisphere and EMI Classics. These collaboration began between EMI Hemisphere founder, Gerald Seligman, and Vangelis Yannopoulos, Minos EMI A&R and Strategic Manager.
Minos EMI in the 21st century
Minos EMI was the sole EMI label operation in Greece since 2001, following the closure and folding of Virgin Records Greece. Use of the Virgin label for domestic repertoire was also discontinued. The name "EMI Music Greece" was the standard moniker used for Minos EMI in an international context.
Between 2002 and 2004, Minos EMI had acquired the rights to handle the distribution of BMG in Greece, following BMG's decision to exit the Greek market by closing BMG Greece. However this distribution agreement was terminated, following the global joint venture between BMG and Sony Music Entertainment, which created Sony BMG. The offices of Sony Music Greece were converted into the offices of Sony BMG Greece. As a result of a BMG-owned company being re-introduced into the Greek market (via Sony BMG Greece), the pre-existing distribution agreement with Minos EMI was nullified.
As of mid-2008, music channel MAD TV discontinued its practice of marking music videos by imprint, instead opting to label all releases as just EMI. As of late 2010, the discontinuation of the Minos label also began on the CD covers of Minos artists, also leaving all domestic releases marked only with the EMI label.
In October 2010, Minos EMI announced a 4-year agreement with the newly launched Greek edition of video sharing service Dailymotion, which secured exclusive rights for Dailymotion to premiere all new music videos. The deal also called for the addition of over 1,000 new, old, and rare music videos from the company's catalogue and availability for the site's users worldwide.
Acquisition by Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group entered into an agreement to purchase EMI Group in September 2012. In order to gain compliance with European competition laws following the acquisition, Universal Music Group placed several European EMI operations for sale, which were subsequently acquired by Warner Music Group. In the Greek market, Universal Music Group held a single Greek label operation known as Universal Music Greece, which was chosen to be sold off instead of Minos EMI. As a result, Greece was the only European country where a Universal Music office was chosen for divestiture instead of an EMI office. Universal Music Greece was subsequently acquired by Greek investors and relaunched as an independent label named Cobalt Music.
Universal Music Group chose to discontinue EMI as a standalone label worldwide. However, continuity of the EMI brand was established through a dual branding approach with other EMI legacy labels, including the creation of Virgin EMI in the UK and through the preservation of "Minos EMI" in Greece, among others. These EMI-branded trademarks now stand as unique labels in their own right.
- Ewbank, Alison J.; Fouli T. Papageorgiou (1997). Whose master's voice?: the development of popular music in thirteen cultures. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-313-27772-6. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- "EMI Music Greece and Dailymotion contribution deal". 24media.gr. 15 October 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
- Onti, Nicky Mariam (21 May 2013). "MINOS-EMI Greek Universal Subsidiary". GreekReporter.com. Retrieved 4 June 2013.