Epic Records

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This article is about the American record company. For Japan's music label (Epic Records Japan), see Epic/Sony Records.
Epic Records
Epic Records 2011.svg
Parent company Sony Music Entertainment
a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, Inc.
Founded 1953 (1953)
Distributor(s) Sony Music Entertainment
Legacy Recordings
Genre Various
Country of origin United States
Location New York City
Official website

Epic Records is an American record company that serves as a division of Sony Music Entertainment Inc. Epic was founded in 1953, predominantly as a jazz music label, but later converted to produce a variety of genres. Over the years, the label has housed popular acts such as Dave Clark Five, Sly & the Family Stone, Michael Jackson, Céline Dion, Luther Vandross, Shakira, Sade, Modest Mouse, and Jennifer Lopez.

Today, the label is handled by two CEOs, L.A. Reid and Sylvia Rhone, and is one of the three main labels for Sony Music; with the other two divisions being Columbia and RCA Records. Artists featured on the label today include Sara Bareilles, Fiona Apple, Mariah Carey, Avril Lavigne, Fifth Harmony, The Fray, Ciara, Tamar Braxton, and Meghan Trainor.



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[1] Pop talent on co-owned Okeh Records were transferred to Epic which made Okeh a rhythm and blues label.[2] 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[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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.[3]

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.[4]

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, Incubus, Dead or Alive, Europe, Cyndi Lauper, Ozzy Osbourne, Korn. Pearl Jam, Sade, Luther Vandross, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Rage Against the Machine, and Céline Dion among others. The label's greatest financial payoff came via 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.[5][6][7]

More recently, other successful acts on the label have included Anastacia, Jennifer Lopez, The Fray, Shakira, Fiona Apple, Meghan Traynor, Modest Mouse, Chevelle and JLS.


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.[8] 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[edit]

In July 2011, L.A. Reid became the CEO Epic Records. [9][10] Through Sony Music Entertainment's restructuring, artists such as TLC, Toni Braxton, Avril Lavigne, Outkast, Future, Yo Gotti and Ciara have joined Epic.[11][12] Epic also signs the winners of The X Factor.[13]

It was confirmed in February 2012 that Sylvia Rhone, former president of Universal Motown, would launch a new label, Vested In Culture, through Epic Records.[14][15] In March 2014, Rhone was appointed president of Epic, reporting to Reid.[16]

As of April 2014, Epic Records was home to 51 artists.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19]

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.[20][21] 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.[22][23]

On February 13, 2015, it was reported that singer Janelle Monae has made a joint venture with Epic Records with her imprint Wondaland Records.[24] 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."[25]

Imprint labels[edit]

The following is a list of labels Epic Records has distributed:



Epic Records artists[edit]

Current artists[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com (1953-09-19). Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
  2. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1953-09-19. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  3. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 1968-05-11. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  4. ^ Robert Greenfield. The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun. Simon and Schuster. 2011. 202-3.
  5. ^ "Arts and Media/Pop Stars/Best-selling Album". Web.archive.org. 2006-05-17. Archived from the original on 2006-05-17. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  6. ^ "Michael Jackson, pop music legend, dead at 50". CNN. 25 June 2009. 
  7. ^ The Baby Boomer Encyclopedia - Marty Gitlin - Google Books. Books.google.com.pe. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  8. ^ "Music label puts singer in charge". BBC News. 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  9. ^ "L.A. Reid's First Week at Epic Has Some Staffers Feeling 'Energized'". Billboard.biz. 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  10. ^ "L.A. Reid to Run Restructured Epic Records". Billboard.biz. 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  11. ^ "Outkast, Ciara Headed for L.A. Reid's Epic Records, Sources Say". Billboard.biz. 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  12. ^ "92.5 THE BEAT Montreal's Best Music Variety Radio Station". 925thebeat.ca. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  13. ^ 'X Factor' Has Glitzy Premiere, Complete With Simon-Paula Bickering. Billboard (2011-09-15). Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
  14. ^ "It's Official: Sylvia Rhone to Run New Label Through Epic | Billboard". Billboard.biz. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  15. ^ Mitchell, Gail (February 5, 2013). "Exclusive: Sylvia Rhone Talks New Label Vested in Culture". Billboard. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  16. ^ Mitchell, Gail (19 March 2014). "Sylvia Rhone Appointed President of Epic Records". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  17. ^ "Epic Records Artists | The Official Epic Records Site". Epicrecords.com. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  18. ^ "Is L.A. Reid Looking to Sign Macklemore to Epic Records?". Billboard. 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  19. ^ http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/legal-and-management/6312115/timbalands-mosley-music-group-is-joining-forces-with
  20. ^ "Mariah Carey signs with Epic Records". thehonestyhour.com. January 30, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2015. 
  21. ^ "The Inside Story of How Mariah Carey and L.A. Reid Reunited (at a Fraction of Her Former $80 Million Deal)". Shirley Halperin and Andrew Hampp. January 30, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Jodeci Debuts New Single "Every Moment"". epicrecords.com. Epic Records. Retrieved January 31, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Jodeci Inks Deal With Epic Records For Comeback Album". singersroom.com. Singers Room. Retrieved January 31, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Janelle Monae inks Joint Venture with Epic Records". theurbandaily.com. 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  25. ^ "Janelle Monae's Wondaland Records And Epic Records Launch Landmark Joint Venture Partnership". prnewswire.com. 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  26. ^ "About". Vested In Culture. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  27. ^ a b Rys, Dan (2014-02-04). "SBOE Signs With Epic Records, Drops "S.O.N.Y" Video - XXL". Xxlmag.com. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  28. ^ http://www.theairbornetoxicevent.com/news/new-record-deal-acoustic-dc-show-added.html

External links[edit]