Disney Music Group

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Disney Music Group
Division of The Walt Disney Studios
Industry Music, music publishing
Founded 1956; 59 years ago (1956)
Headquarters Burbank, California, U.S.
Key people
Ken Bunt,[1] President
Products Music albums, records, music videos
Parent The Walt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)
Divisions Disney Music Publishing
Subsidiaries Walt Disney Records
Hollywood Records
Website waltdisneystudios.com

Disney Music Group (DMG) is the music production arm of The Walt Disney Company. The division consists of two affiliated record labelsWalt Disney Records, Hollywood Records—and Disney Music Publishing, the publishing entity that administers the company's music. The president of the group is Ken Bunt,[1] 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 Walt Disney nor Roy O. Disney having any music industry experience, the studio had to rely on outside music publishers.[MTk 1] In 1928, Walt Disney produced the third animated Mickey Mouse short, Steamboat Willie, which 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 wrote "Minnie's Yoo-Hoo", the first song from The Walt Disney Studios, for Mickey's Follies.[ChWDC 2] On December 16, 1929, the Disney Film Recording Company, Limited was incorporated as a subsidiary of Walt Disney Productions.[2]

Saul Bourne at Irving Berlin Music approached the studio after seeing Three Little Pigs with interest in the publishing rights for its theme song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?". With Disney partnering with Bourne and Berlin, this partnership led to the song 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]

Walt Disney Productions then began licensing out its music with the record company either selecting its own or Disney's talent to record the music. Until 1936, no one had issued an actual song track recording on disc. 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 soundtrack album released by Victor was the first feature film soundtrack. Disney had sold its rights to the Snow White music to Bourne Co. Music as they needed more funds to complete the film.[MTk 2]

In 1938, Fantasound—the first Surround sound system—was designed and tested by Walt Disney Productions for the release of Fantasia.[ChWDC 3] In 1943, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated Walt Disney Productions for two Academy Award categories in recognition of Bambi; Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Music, Best Song for its song, "Love is a Song".[ChWDC 4]

In addition to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney also sold the music publishing rights to Pinocchio and Dumbo to Bourne. To date, all attempts to reacquire the music rights to the three films have failed. After Bambi, the effects of World War II reduced the production 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.[3][MTk 3] Cinderella records appeared 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, moved through a series of jobs there in the traffic department, and then accounting. After a stint in the military, he became assistant to the corporate secretary, then handled merchandising issues amongst other additional duties. With Roy Disney's split of the merchandising division from Walt Disney Productions, Johnson became head of the merchandising division's publication department in 1950 and took on managing business affairs for the Walt Disney Music Company. Raphael took the WDMC into creating original non-film music.[MTk 3] Walt Disney Productions formed the Wonderland Music Company in 1951.[4]

Disney's next push into music came from The Mickey Mouse Club as eight records for the show hit shelves the week it premiered on television. Walt Disney Music Company's partners, Golden Records and Am-Par Records, turned over production of the show's music after a year to Disney leading to the creation of the Disneyland Records label.[MTk 4]


The Walt Disney Company traces the Disney Music Group back to the founding of Disneyland Records in 1956.[5] 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.[6] 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 within 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 the label for the occasional pop song record.[6]

The Lyric Street Records label was founded in July 1997 as a division of Hollywood Records.[7][8] Mammoth Records was purchased for $25 million by August 1997 to act as an independent music label within Disney.[9]

Buena Vista Music Group[edit]

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 The Walt Disney Studios. The group consisted 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.[9]

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.[10] In November 2006, Disney Music Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music Inc. agreed to a licensing agreement for Europe and South America major markets. [11] 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.[12]

Disney Music Group[edit]

In April 2007, Disney decided to semi-retire the Buena Vista brand from the group's name.[13] Lyric Street launched a subsidiary label, Carolwood Records, in October 2008[14] which was soon shuttered in November 2009.[15] 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.[16] However in 2013, it returned to country music with the formation of DMG Nashville and it signed its first artist, Lucy Hale who was transferred to the new startup label from Hollywood Records. Its first studio album was Hale's Road Between in 2014.

Divisions and labels[edit]

  • Walt Disney Records, the flagship record 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 roster of major artists such as: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Breaking Benjamin, and Bridgit Mendler.
  • Disney Music Publishing, controls the publishing rights to music from Disney's film, television, theater and theme park divisions. Imprints include Walt Disney Music Company, Wonderland Music Company, Agarita Music, Buena Vista Music Co., Falferious Music, Five Hundred South Songs, Fuzzy Muppet Songs, Holpic Music, Inc., Hollywood Pictures Music, Mad Muppet Melodies, Marvel Comics Music, Marvel Superheroes Music, Pixar Music, Pixar Talking Pictures, Seven Peaks Music, Seven Summits Music and Touchstone Pictures Music & Songs, Inc.[22]
  • Buena Vista Records, a label founded in 1959[6] 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 and non Disney-branded releases, 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.[23] 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.[24]


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[25] (excluding Japan, where avex music creative Inc. handled distribution since July 1, 2014[26]). 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.[27] 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 incurring collaboration between Disney's record labels and artists with Universal's production department.[28] 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.[29]

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.)[30][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Graser, Marc (27 March 2013). "Ken Bunt Promoted to President of Disney Music Group". Variety. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Munsey, Cecil (1974). Disneyana: Walt Disney Collectibles. p. 31. 
  3. ^ "California Secretary of State - Business Search". (Search for Walt Disney Music Company). 
  4. ^ "California Secretary of State - Business Search". (Search for Wonderland Music Company). 
  5. ^ "Studio Entertainment". Our Businesses. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Johnson, Jimmy (March 27, 1971). "The Disneyland Records Story". Billboard. p. D-2. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Lyric Street Records chief to lead CMA board". Nashville Business Journal. 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  8. ^ Price, Deborah Evans (December 6, 1997). "Lyric Street Looking to the Future". Billboard Magazine (Vol. 109, No. 49) (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.). pp. 30, 33. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Newman, Melinda; Flippo, Chet (December 4, 1999). "Disney's Bet on Buena Vista is Paying Off: Other Divisions Revamped". Billboard 111 (49): 3, 139. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Disney, EMI sign music agreement". L.A. Biz. September 6, 2005. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Warner/Chappell Music, Disney Music extend sub-publishing agreement". L.A. Biz. November 27, 2006. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Buena Vista Concerts and AEG Live Announce Launch of the Disney Music Block Party Tour, A Dynamic Concert Festival Experience". Press Releases. NAMM. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Fixmer, Fixmer (April 25, 2007). "Disney to Drop Buena Vista Brand Name, People Say (Update1)". bloomberg.com. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "Biz Bits: Disney casts wider net with new sister record label to Lyric Street". Nashville Business Journal. October 19, 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "Disney Closes Carolwood Records". CMT (Viacom International Inc.). November 3, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Covington, Fowler, Dickerson Follow Rascal Flatts to Disney Music Group". cmt.com. April 15, 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "Hollywood Records, inc.". Arkansas Secretary of State. Retrieved April 13, 2015. 
  18. ^ "See Lucy Hale Live in LA!". Hollywood Records. Retrieved April 13, 2015. ...you agree to the terms of this promotion and to receive future email updates from DMG Nashville and Lucy Hale... ...hold harmless and defend Lucy Hale, Hollywood Records, Inc., Clear Channel Broadcasting, Inc., and all of their parents, subsidiaries, affiliates and agents... 
  19. ^ "Disney Music Group Holds Three Titles in Billboard's Top 10 Album Sales Chart: Guardians of the Galaxy, Into the Woods And Frozen". PR Newswire (Disney Music Group). January 7, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015. Disney Music Group is home to Hollywood Records, Walt Disney Records, Disney Music Publishing, and DMG Nashville. 
  20. ^ Nicholson, Jessica (November 14, 2013). "Bigger Picture Group Teams With DMG For Music Licensing". Music Row. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  21. ^ Hudak, Joseph (May 8, 2014). "Nashville Record Label Closes Up Shop". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Disney Music Publishing". mpa.org. Music Publishing Association. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 
  23. ^ Sandler, Adam (21 July 1997). "Disney inks Mammoth deal". Variety. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  24. ^ Waller, Don (January 27, 2000). "Faires exists Mammoth". Variety. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  25. ^ "UNIVERSAL MUSIC, DISNEY MUSIC FORGE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND: Forthcoming Releases Include Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana". Universal Music Group. 
  26. ^ "Disney Music". The Walt Disney Company and Avex Group Holdings Inc. 
  27. ^ http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/1084095/universal-emi-merger-approved-by-canadian-regulators
  28. ^ "Universal Music Group (UMG) & Disney Music Group (DMG) Expand Agreement Globally". PR Newswire. 20 March 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  29. ^ Kozlov, Vladimir (25 November 2013). "Disney, Warner Music Strike Russia Distribution Deal". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  30. ^ "The company also started releasing soundtrack albums for Disney movies with Korean special albums." ("로엔 엔터테인먼트". Enha Wiki Mirror. Retrieved September 16, 2014. )
  31. ^ "Beauty And The Beast (미녀와 야수) by Alan Menken (ost)". ManiaDB. Retrieved September 16, 2014.  (Turn to CD :: 1992-02-00 :: Disney, 서울음반 (SRCD-2041))
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  2. ^ Beard, Richard (1982). Walt Disney's EPCOT - Creating the New World or Tomorrow. p. 16. 
    • Maltin, Leonard (1980). Of Mice and Magic. 
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  1. ^ a b c Ehrbar, Greg (2006). Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records (First ed.). Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. p. 6. ISBN 1617034339. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
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