Windham Hill Records

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Windham Hill Records
Parent company Sony Music Entertainment
Founded 1976 (1976)
Founder William Ackerman
Anne Robinson
Genre New age, acoustic, folk
Country of origin U.S.
Location Palo Alto, California (1976–1996)
Los Angeles, California (1996–2007)
Official website

Windham Hill Records is a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment specializing in acoustic, new age and folk music. Originally founded in 1976 as an Independent record label by guitarist and carpenter William Ackerman and Anne Robinson, then married, Windham Hill was a successful and well-respected music label during its height in the 1980s and 1990s. The label was purchased by BMG through a series of buyouts from 1992 through 1996 and is currently a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment after BMG's subsequent merger in 2008. Private Music, also a subsidiary of BMG, has issued some back-catalog releases under the Windham Hill Records imprint. Since the Sony merger, Windham Hill has released no new material but reissues albums and compilations as part of Sony's Legacy Recordings brand.


Windham Hill was originally an instrumental music label, releasing Ackerman's own work, as well as that of other guitarists. It then expanded to include electronic and world music ensembles. While the artists of Windham Hill may not have used the term, the label eventually became known in the industry mainly as a new age music label, with its Billboard-charting albums appearing primarily on the New Age genre charts. The label is best known for its high sound quality, unique flagship collections and tasteful album art within the form of an identifiable label brand identity.

The label's records were distributed by A&M Records until PolyGram purchased A&M in 1989. From 1989 to 2008 it was distributed by BMG, which had distributed A&M from 1979 until the sale. Will Ackerman sold his half of the company to BMG in 1992 and Anne Robinson sold her half in 1996. BMG relocated the Windham Hill office to Los Angeles[1] began distributing Windham Hill through RCA Records and merged other music labels that they purchased (such as Peter Baumann's Private Music) into Windham Hill, forming the Windham Hill Group. In doing so, artists such as Yanni, Ray Lynch, and Vangelis joined the label, though they were not original Windham Hill artists.

Jim Brickman was the last artist signed to the label pre-buyout and he was the last artist to leave Windham Hill in 2006, joining Savoy Records.

Today a majority of Windham's releases are distributed through Legacy Recordings, formerly a division of Sony BMG. In 2008 Sony absorbed all of the BMG assets and wrapped Windham Hill into their conglomerate. Sony has no A&R department in Windham Hill and records no new music at this time. It is uncertain whether or not Windham Hill will ever release any new material, though, as part of the Legacy Recordings branch, Windham Hill consistently recycles tunes previously released.

For Windham Hill's 30th Anniversary, Sony BMG released a special collection kit, with an article from Will Ackerman.

For the first time in over 15 years, many of the early Windham Hill artists who recorded under Ackerman performed together on August 27, 2006 at the Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, California near San Jose. Artists included: Barbara Higbie, Jim Brickman, Tuck & Patti, Alex de Grassi, Liz Story, Philip Aaberg, Michael Manring, Samite, David Cullen, Tracy Silverman, Lisa Lynne, George Tortorelli, Sean Harkness (who also planned and invited the musicians), and, of course, Will Ackerman.

Starting in 2009, Valley Entertainment began reissuing titles from the Windham Hill catalog. As of January 2011 they have released 16 of the albums in CD format.[2]


Associated labels[edit]

  • Dancing Cat Records, a music label founded by artist George Winston which began with Winston's albums and migrated to being a Hawaiian music label (preserving Hawaiian slack-key guitar heritage), received distribution through Windham Hill. Dancing Cat remains an independent label under Sony's Sony Classical banner.
  • High Street Records was a Windham Hill subsidiary that mostly recorded singer-songwriters.
  • Hip Pocket was a jazz-oriented label (started by Andy Narell) which was folded into the Windham Hill Jazz label (along with Magenta) in 1987.
  • Magenta was a jazz oriented label (started by Steve Backer in 1985) which was folded into the Windham Hill Jazz label (along with Hip Pocket) in 1987.
  • Living Music was a new-age label (started by Paul Winter in 1980), was distributed by Windham Hill from 1986 to 1988.
  • Lost Lake Arts reissued out-of-print albums. A total of 13 albums were released on the label between 1981 and 1988.
  • Open Air was a vocal label, which released seven albums between 1985 and 1989.
  • Rabbit Ears was a children's music and audiobook imprint actively distributed through Windham Hill from 1984 to 1990.
  • Pioneer Artists reissued the Windham Hill music video titles on DVD and VHS beginning in January 2000.


External links[edit]