Polydor Records

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Polydor Ltd. (UK)
Polydor UK print logo.gif
Parent company Universal Music Group
Founded 1913
Distributor(s)
Genre Various
Country of origin Germany
Location London, United Kingdom
Official website polydor.co.uk

Polydor Ltd. is a British record label and company, that operates as part of Universal Music Group. It has a close relationship with Universal's Interscope Geffen A&M label, which distributes Polydor's releases in the United States. In turn, Polydor distributes Interscope releases in the United Kingdom. Polydor Records Ltd. was established in 1954 British subsidiary in London by German Deutsche Grammophon GmbH. It was renamed in 1972 to Polydor Ltd.

Its artists have included Siouxsie and the Banshees, Slade, Bee Gees, The Jam, Cheryl Cole and Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, Take That, James Brown, The Fauves, Ellie Goulding, Duffy, James Blake, Snow Patrol, Elbow, Status Quo, Elton John, the 1975, Marie Osmond, Years & Years, and American artists Lana Del Rey, Soraya, Haim, Keith O'Conner Murphy, and Azealia Banks.

Company history[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Polydor label was founded 2 April 1913 by German Polyphon-Musikwerke AG in Leipzig and registered 25. of July 1914 (Nr. 316613). The company was founded as Firma Brachhausen & Riesener in 1887 by Gustav Adolf Brachhausen and Ernst Paul Riessner for manufacturing their new in 1870 invented mechanical disc-playing music box Polyphon.[1] During World War I 24. of April 1917 Polyphon-Musikwerke AG acquired the German Deutsche Grammophon-Aktiengesellschaft record plant and company from German government. The German state was taken over Grammophon and the British holdings as enemies property during World War I.[2]

Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Polyphon-Grammophon-Konzern group. It was used as an export label since 1924. The British and German branches of the Gramophone Company were so departed during World War I. Deutsche Grammophon claimed the rights to the Nipper-dog and gramophone trademark for Germany, where HMV recordings were to be released under the Electrola trademark instead of the lost company during the war.

1920s vintage Polydor export label with its double-horn gramophone logo

In turn, Deutsche Grammophon records exported out of Germany were released on the Polyphon Musik and Polydor labels.[3] The new foreign branches were founded for example into Austria, Denmark, Sweden and France.

Polydor became a popular music label in 1946, while the new Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft label was to become a classical music label in 1949.[4] The previous used label Grammophon was disbanded. DGG gave with agreement dated 5. of July 1949 an exclusive license to use Nipper -dog with gramophone since 1 July 1951 to the original owner's company Electrola, the German branch of EMI. In Germany was impossible to sell the trademark only without company.[5] Polydor remained Deutsche Grammophon's export label, including classical music, in France and the Spanish-speaking world for the remainder of the long-playing era, as a result of language and cultural concerns. In 1954 DGG established a subsidiary in London called Polydor Records Ltd.

In the early 1960s orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert signed unknowns Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers—who would later become famous as the Beatles—to Polydor. Popular International entertainers such as James Last, Bert Kaempfert, Kurt Edelhagen, Caterina Valente and the Kessler Twins appeared on the Polydor label, as well as many French, Spanish and Latin-American figures. Polydor opened a United States branch in 1969,[6] but did not become a real presence in the United States record industry until its purchase of the recording contract and back catalog of R&B superstar James Brown in 1971 and its absorption of the MGM Records label by parent company PolyGram in 1972.

In 1970, Polydor acquired the Hong Kong-based Diamond Records, which was owned and founded by the local Portuguese merchant Ren da Silva in the late 1950s.

PolyGram[edit]

In 1954 Polydor Records introduced their distinctive orange label.

In 1972, The Grammophon-Philips Group (GPG) reorganized to create PolyGram. The Polydor label continued to run as a subsidiary label under the new company. The name PolyGram is a portmanteau of Polydor and PhonoGram. Throughout the 1970s, Polydor became a major rock label, releasing chart-topping hits from hard-rock bands such as Slade but it also championed disco, being home to such platinum-selling disco acts as the Bee Gees[7] and Gloria Gaynor.

Into the 1980s, Polydor continued to do respectable business, in spite of becoming increasingly overshadowed by its PolyGram sister label Mercury Records. Polydor took over management of British Decca's pop catalog. A&R manager Frank Neilson was able to score a major top ten hit in March 1981 for the label with "Do The Hucklebuck" by Coast to Coast as well as signing Ian Dury and Billy Fury to the company. In 1984, the company name was parodied in the rockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap (whose soundtrack album was distributed by Polydor), where "Polymer Records" was the band's record company.

By the early 1990s, Polydor had begun to underperform. PolyGram subsequently trimmed most of Polydor's staff and roster, and shifted it to operate under the umbrella of PolyGram Label Group (PLG), a newly constructed "super label" specifically designed to oversee the operations of PolyGram's lesser performing imprints, which included Island Records, London Records, Atlas Records and Verve Records at the time.

In 1994, as Island Records recovered from its sales slump, PolyGram dissolved most of PLG into it. Meanwhile, Polydor Records and Atlas Records merged, briefly called "Polydor/Atlas," and began operating through A&M Records, another PolyGram subsidiary. In 1995, Polydor/Atlas became simply Polydor Records again.

Twilight years in the United States[edit]

Over the next few years, Polydor tried to keep itself afloat with new artist signings, new releases, and reissues, while still becoming more and more dormant. In 1998, PolyGram was purchased by Seagram and absorbed into its Universal Music Group. During the consolidation of these two music giants, Polydor's United States operations were folded into Interscope-Geffen-A&M, while its overseas branch remained intact, with its records continuing to be distributed domestically through Interscope and A&M. Today, in America, the Polydor Records name and logo is mostly used on reissues of older material from its 1960s and 1970s heyday. However, starting in the 2010s, Interscope Records has been signing acts such as Azealia Banks and Lana Del Rey jointly to Polydor and its logo has been seen on both releases.

Polydor Nashville[edit]

Record producer Harold Shedd founded Polydor's Nashville, Tennessee, division in 1994, which specialized in country music. Among the acts signed to Polydor Nashville were 4 Runner, the Moffatts, Chely Wright, Mark Luna, Clinton Gregory, Amie Comeaux,[8] along with Toby Keith and Davis Daniel, who transferred from Mercury Nashville in 1994.[9] The Nashville division was renamed A&M Nashville in March 1996 and closed in September of the same year, as PolyGram consolidated all its Nashville operations under the Mercury name.

Polydor UK[edit]

In 1972 the British Polydor Records Ltd. was renamed to Polydor Ltd. In the early 1970s, the main source of income for the label was the successful UK band Slade as well as The New Seekers and The Who. At the time, between the 1970s and 1980s, the Polydor/PolyGram Senior VP (who was originally the first head of their new [at the time] rock department) was Jerry Jaffe, who also signed acts such as Motörhead, Dexy's Midnight Runners, and the Jam. He also interacted with many famous and successful artists while in that position, including Nick Lowe and John Lennon, as well as going on to work with groups such as the Jesus and Mary Chain and Saint Etienne the late 1980s and 1990s. Later, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the label was also home to the Who and the Jam (as well as its successor act the Style Council).

Though Polydor's American branch is nearly inactive, in the United Kingdom Polydor remains one of the strongest labels in the country—with artists such as Take That, Cheryl Cole, Duffy, the Saturdays, Kaiser Chiefs, Ellie Goulding and Lawson. Polydor also has a strong indie roster through the Fiction imprint with acts such as Ian Brown, Bright Eyes, Elbow (band), White Lies, the Maccabees, Kate Nash, Snow Patrol, Filthy Dukes, and Crystal Castles. It also acts as the UK label for American-based acts under Interscope-Geffen-A&M like Eminem, Queens Of The Stone Age, Limp Bizkit, Timbaland, the All-American Rejects, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Black Eyed Peas, Weezer, Marilyn Manson, Pussycat Dolls, Janet Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Busta Rhymes, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Hollywood Undead, Sheryl Crow, Dr. Dre, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, Fergie, Ester Dean, Selena Gomez and Nelly Furtado.

In 2006, Polydor launched Fascination Records, a music label dedicated to pop music. Both Girls Aloud and Sophie Ellis-Bextor transferred to the new label and created groups such as the Saturdays and Girls Can't Catch. Several pop acts from US label Hollywood Records, such as Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez & the Scene were also signed to Fascination.

In 2008, A&M Records UK was founded as an imprint of Polydor UK. The same year Polydor obtained distribution of the Rolling Stones' back catalogue as well as new releases.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]