EMI Records

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This article is about the record label. For the record company, see EMI.
EMI Records
EMI Records.svg
Parent company Parlophone Records
Founded 1972
Founder Sir Joseph Lockwood
Genre Various
Country of origin United Kingdom

EMI Records Ltd, was a British record label. It was founded by the EMI company in 1972 as its flagship label and launched in January 1973 as the successor to its Columbia and Parlophone labels. The EMI label was launched worldwide.[1] The use of the EMI name continues as Virgin EMI Records, founded in March 2013, but this was through the merger of Mercury Records UK and Virgin Records. Virgin was previously a separate label owned by EMI Group Ltd but the new label does not include the old EMI Records Ltd company which was renamed Parlophone Records Ltd, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group.[2]


An E.M.I. Records Ltd. legal entity was created in 1957 as the record manufacturing and distribution arm of EMI in the UK. It oversaw EMI's various labels companies including The Gramophone Co. Ltd., Columbia Graphophone Company Ltd. and Parlophone Record Co. Ltd.[3] The global success that EMI enjoyed in the 1960s exposed the fact that the company had the rights to only some of its trademarks in some parts of the world, most notably His Master's Voice and Columbia, with RCA Victor Records and the American Columbia Records owning the rights to these trademarks in North America. Complicating matters was the formation by American Columbia of its own operations in the UK by purchasing Oriole Records and changing its name to that of its then parent company CBS (the legal trademark designation bearing the full name of the parent company, "Trade Mark of Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc."), and as CBS Records International becoming highly successful, a serious rival to EMI, in the UK.

In July 1965 all the standalone EMI Record companies were extracted from E.M.I. Records Ltd. and folded together into The Gramophone Company Ltd. and on 1 July 1973 The Gramophone Co. Ltd. was renamed EMI Records Ltd. At the same time E.M.I. Records Ltd. was wound down and its activities were absorbed into EMI Records Ltd.[4] Earlier, on 1 January 1973, all of The Gramophone Company Ltd. pop labels (Columbia, Parlophone and Regal) had been rebranded as EMI. EMI Records then signed new acts that became global successes, such as Kraftwerk, Queen, Olivia Newton-John, Iron Maiden, Kate Bush, Sheena Easton and Robbie Williams (though some of these acts were on different labels in the United States, not EMI's Capitol Records). In 1997, EMI Records' American division folded into Virgin Records.

In 2010, EMI Records opened a country music division, EMI Records Nashville, which includes Troy Olsen, Alan Jackson, Kelleigh Bannen, and Eric Church on its roster. EMI Records Nashville runs as a sister label to Capitol Nashville.[5]

Australia's most prolific artist, Australian country music singer Slim Dusty, signed with the Columbia Graphophone Co. for the Regal Zonophone label in 1946 and remained with EMI until his death in 2003 - selling over 7 million records for the label in Australia by 2007.

Virgin EMI Records retains use of the EMI branding after Universal Music Group's acquisition of EMI in September 2012, but is otherwise unrelated to the old company. EMI Christian Music Group was renamed Capitol Christian Music Group. EMI Classics was sold to Warner Music Group on February 2013. After EU regulatory approval, EMI Classics was absorbed into Warner Classics on July 2013.[6]

Under the terms of the 2012 settlement EMI Records Ltd. was sold to Warner Music Group and legally renamed in February 2013 as Parlophone Records Ltd.[7] All copyrights owned or controlled by EMI Records Ltd. went with this sale, with the exception of The Beatles.[8] These included artists such as Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Marillion, Pink Floyd, and Kajagoogoo. The Parlophone label also went to Warners, and was expanded to include artists previously on the eponymous EMI label.[9] Kate Bush's first three albums were also part of the deal, but her remaining output (from 1981 onwards) was owned by her own company and merely licenced to EMI, with licences taken back in 2011. Queen had moved from EMI then Parlophone to Universal prior to the EMI sale and their catalogue is now managed by Virgin EMI Records (which absorbed Island) outside North America.[10]

In Japan, Universal Music Japan did a label reorganization in February 2014, with more than half of the EMI Records Japan artists being transferred to Nayutawave Records, renaming to just simply EMI Records.

See also[edit]