American Record Corporation

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American Record Corporation (ARC),[1] also referred to as American Record Company, American Recording Corporation,[2] or (erroneously) as ARC Records,[3][4] was an American record company. It resulted from the merger in 1929 of three companies: the Cameo Record Corporation (which owned Cameo, Lincoln and Romeo Records), the Pathé Phonograph and Radio Corporation (which owned Actuelle, Pathé, and Perfect), and the Plaza Music Company (which operated but did not own Banner, Domino, Jewel, Oriole, and Regal).[5]

Although Plaza's assets were included in the merger, the Plaza company itself was not, (it formed Crown Records in 1930 as an independent label)[6] and the Scranton Button Company, the parent company of Emerson Records (and the company that pressed records for most of these labels) was involved. Louis G. Sylvester, the former head of the Scranton Button Company, became the president of the new company, located at 1776 Broadway in Manhattan, New York City.

Consolidated Film Industries bought ARC in 1930, and Brunswick Record Corporation (actually leased Brunswick from Warner Bros) the next year. Full-priced discs were issued on Brunswick, and in 1934 on Columbia. Low-priced records on Oriole (sold at McCrory), Romeo (sold at Kress), as well as Melotone, Vocalion, Banner, and Perfect. Starting in February or March of 1931, Brunswick had appointed Victor Young as their Light and Dance Music Director. He started assembling various groups of New York musicians to record generically for Melotone under a vast array of names, although he was apparently not always the actual music director of each session. This practice was apparently continued after the ARC formation and at least until late 1934, when Young left ARC for Decca. Many of the dance band records issued on ARC labels were culled from this group. Brian Rust lists most of these in his Dance Bands discography under the umbrella of "ARC-Brunswick Dance Bands".

In December 1938, the entire ARC complex was purchased for $700,000 by the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS).[7] (The Oriole, Banner, Melotone and Romeo labels were discontinued earlier in 1938.) The record company was renamed Columbia Recording Corporation,[8] which revived the Columbia imprint as its flagship label with Okeh Records as a subsidiary label. This allowed the rights to the Brunswick and Vocalion labels (and pre-December 1931 Brunswick/Vocalion masters) to revert to Warner Bros., who sold the labels to Decca Records in 1941.

In 1979, ARC was reactivated by CBS as a vanity label for Earth, Wind and Fire as well as other acts produced by EW&F's leader, the late Maurice White. The label's first official releases were a greatest hits album and 1979's I Am. The label would shut down again only three years later, with the release of Raise! and all future EW&F albums would once again be released on Columbia.

The ARC legacy is now part of Sony Music Entertainment.

Labels ARC issued or pressed (1929-1938)[edit]

labels that existed prior to the formation of ARC are marked +

  • ARC (sold to theaters for background and intermission music 1931-1933?)
  • Banner +1929-1938
  • Bernardo (client label)
  • Broadway +from 1932 (fulfilling a contract with Montgomery Ward after Paramount ceased production)
  • Brunswick +1932-1938 (under lease agreement from Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Cameo +1929-1930
  • Columbia +late 1934-1938
  • Commodore (client label for Commodore Music Shops)
  • Conqueror +(client label for Sears from 1929-1938)
  • Domino +1929-1931 (but was restarted as a client label for the John Gabel Co. circa 1933-34)
  • Fox Movietone (client label sold only at Fox Theaters, taken over from Victor, circa 1934)
  • Gospel Herald (client label)
  • Gramophone Shop Varieties (client label for The Gramophone Shop)
  • Hollywood 1936-1937 (client label)
  • Homestead +(mail order label 1929-circa 1931, when it was taken over by Crown Records)
  • Hot Record Society (client label for the Hot Record Society)
  • Jewel +1929-circa 1932
  • Liberty Music Shops (client label for the Liberty Music Shops)
  • Lincoln +from 1929-1930
  • Master 1937
  • Mel-O-Dee (client label as a specialty jukebox label for Will F. Dillion Associates, Inc.) 1931
  • Melotone +1932-1938
  • Oriole +1929-1938 (client label for McCrory)
  • Pathe +1929-1930
  • Perfect +1929-1938
  • Regal +1929-1931
  • Romeo +1929-1938 (client label for Kress Stores)
  • Shamrock Stores - (client label for the Shamrock Stores)
  • Supertone +1930-circa 1931 (client label for Sears whose short-lived series made by Brunswick after the Gennett period ended. This rare series probably hails from right before the ARC takeover of Brunswick)
  • U.H.C.A. - (client label specializing in reissues for United Hot Clubs of America through Commodore)
  • Variety 1937
  • Vocalion +1932-1938 (under lease agreement from Warner Bros. Pictures)


  1. ^ "The 78rpm Home Page: Label Pictures". Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  2. ^ Cox, Jim. American Radio Networks: A History. Google Books. Retrieved 2012-08-11.
  3. ^ Wolf, Charles; Lornell, Kip (1999). The Life and Legend of Leadbelly. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 178, 198.
  4. ^ Sing Out! 21 (1971), p. 44.
  5. ^ Rye, Howard (2002). Barry Kernfeld, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, vol. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 49. ISBN 1561592846.
  6. ^ Komara, Edward (ed.) (2006). Encyclopedia of the Blues. Routledge.
  7. ^ LPs historic. Retrieved on 2012-08-11.
  8. ^ White, Raymond E. King of the Cowboys, Queen of the West: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Google Books. Retrieved 2013-07-06.

See also[edit]