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The EMI Group (Electric & Musical Industries Ltd.) is a Britishmarker music company. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major publishing arm - EMI Music Publishing - based in New York Citymarker. The company was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but is now wholly owned by Terra Firma Capital Partners.

History

EMI's building in London


The Electric and Musical Industries Ltd formed in March 1931 from the merger of the UKmarker Columbia Graphophone Company and the Gramophone Company, famous at the time for its record label "His Master's Voice". From its beginning, the company was involved in both the manufacture of recording and playback equipment and the provision of music to play on its machines.

Manufacturing

The company's gramophone manufacturing led to forty years of success with larger-scale electronics. Alan Blumlein, a skilled engineer employed by EMI, conducted a great deal of pioneering research into stereo sound recording. Blumlein was killed in 1942 whilst conducting trials on an experimental H2S radar unit. During and after World War II, the EMI Laboratories in Hayes, Hillingdonmarker developed radar equipment and guided missiles. The company later became involved in broadcasting equipment, notably providing the first television transmitter to the BBC. It also manufactured broadcast television cameras for British television production companies, mostly the BBC, although the commercial television ITV companies used them as well alongside cameras made by Pye and Marconi. Their most famous piece of broadcast television equipment was the EMI 2001 colour camera, which became the mainstay of both the BBC and several ITV companies in the 1970s and early 1980s.

In 1958 the EMIDEC 1100, Britain's first transistorised computer, was developed at Hayes under the leadership of Godfrey Hounsfield. In the early 1970s, Hounsfield developed the first CAT scanner, a device which revolutionised medical imaging. In 1973 EMI was awarded a prestigious Queen's Award for Technological Innovation for what was then called the EMI scanner, and in 1979 Hounsfield won the Nobel Prize for his accomplishment. After brief, but brilliant, success in the medical imaging field, EMI's manufacturing activities were sold off to other companies, notably Thorn (see Thorn EMI). Subsequently development and manufacturing activities were sold off to other companies and work moved to other towns such as Crawley and Wells.

Emihus Electronics, based in Glenrothesmarker, Scotlandmarker, was owned 51% by Hughes Aircraft, of Californiamarker, U.S.marker, and 49% by EMI. It manufactured integrated circuits and, for a short period in the mid-1970s, made hand-held calculators under the Gemini name.

Music

Early in its life, the Gramophone Company established subsidiary operations in a number of other countries in the British Commonwealth, including Indiamarker, Australia and New Zealandmarker. Gramophone's (later EMI's) Australian and New Zealand subsidiaries dominated the popular music industries in those countries from the 1920s until the 1960s, when other locally owned labels (such as Festival Records) began to challenge EMI's market near monopoly. Over 150,000 78-rpm recordings from around the world are held in EMI's temperature-controlled archive in Hayes, some of which have been released on CD since 2008 by Honest Jon's Records.

In 1931, the year the company was formed, it opened the legendary recording studios at Abbey Roadmarker, London. During the 1930s and 1940s, its roster of artists included Arturo Toscanini, Sir Edward Elgar, and Otto Klemperer, among many others. During this time EMI appointed its first A&R managers. These included George Martin, who later brought the Beatles into the EMI fold.

When EMI's parent The Gramophone Company merged with the Columbia Graphophone Company (including Columbia's subsidiary label Parlophone) in 1931, the new Anglo-American group was incorporated as Electric & Music Industries Ltd. At this point RCA had a majority shareholding in the new company, giving RCA chair David Sarnoff a seat on the EMI board.

However, EMI was subsequently forced to sell Columbia USA due to anti-trust action taken by its American competitors. By this time the record industry had been hit hard by the Depression and in 1934 a much-diminished Columbia USA was purchased by for just US$70,500 by ARC-BRC (American Record Company-Brunswick Record Company), which also acquired the OKeh label.

RCA sold its stake in EMI in 1935. RCA retained the Americas rights to the "Nipper" trademark (which was used by EMI's HMV label in other countries) because of its earlier takeover of the Victor label, which owned the US rights to the logo. In 1938 ARC-Brunswick was taken over by CBS, which then operated Columbia as its flagship label in the United States and Canada.

However EMI retained the rights to the Columbia name in most other territories including the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and it continued to operate the label until 1972, when it was retired and replaced by the EMI Records imprint. In 1990, following a series of major takeovers that saw CBS Records acquired by the Sony Corporation of Japan, EMI sold its remaining rights to the Columbia name to Sony and the label is now operated exclusively throughout the world by Sony Music Entertainment; except in Japan where the trade mark is owned by Columbia Music Entertainment,

EMI released its first LPs in 1952 and its first stereophonic recordings in 1955 (first on reel-to-reel tape and then LPs, beginning in 1958).

In 1957, to replace the loss of its long-established licensing arrangements with RCA Victor and Columbia Records (Columbia USA cut its ties with EMI in 1951), EMI entered the American market by acquiring 96% of the stock of Capitol Recordsmarker. From 1960 to 1995 their headquarters, "EMI House," was at 20 Manchester Squaremarker. The stairwell is on the cover of the Beatles' "Please Please Me" album. An unused shot from the Please Please Me photo session was used for the cover of Beatles' double-album compilation 1962-1966 (aka "The Red Album"); a matching group photograph taken in 1969 by Angus McBean (originally intended for the Let It Be album) was used for the cover of the 1967-1970 double album (aka "The Blue Album").

Its classical artists were largely limited to the prestigious British orchestras, such as the Philharmonia Orchestra. During the LP era very few U.S. orchestras had EMI as their principal recording company; an exception was the Pittsburgh Symphony Band, particularly during the years of William Steinberg's leadership.

Under the management of Sir Joseph Lockwood from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, the company enjoyed huge success in the popular music field. The groups and solo artists signed to EMI and its subsidiary labels—including Parlophone, HMV, Columbia and Capitol Recordsmarker -- made EMI the best-known and most successful recording company in the world at that time, with a roster that included scores of major pop/rock acts of the period including Frank Sinatra, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Hollies, Cilla Black and Pink Floyd.

By 1967 EMI converted HMV to an exclusively classical music label, shifting HMV's pop music roster to Columbia. In 1969, EMI established a new subsidiary label, Harvest Records, which signed groups in the emerging progressive rock genre, including Pink Floyd who debuted on Columbia.

Electric & Musical Industries changed its name to EMI Ltd in 1971 and the subsidiary The Gramophone Company became EMI Records Ltd in 1973. In 1972, EMI replaced the Columbia label with EMI Records. In February 1979, EMI Ltd acquired United Artists Records and with it Liberty Records and Imperial Records.

In October 1979 THORN Electrical Industries merged with EMI Ltd to form Thorn-EMI.

In 1989 Thorn-EMI bought a 50% interest in Chrysalis Records, buying the outstanding 50% in 1991. In one of its highest-profile and most expensive acquisitions, Thorn-EMI bought Richard Branson's Virgin Records in 1992.

Aftermath of demerger from Thorn

On August 16, 1996, Thorn EMI shareholders voted in favour of demerger proposals. The resulting media company was known by the name EMI Group PLC.

Since the 1930s, Shanghai's Baak Doi had been published under the EMI label. Since then, EMI had also been the dominant label in the cantopop market in Hong Kongmarker until its decline in the mid 1980s, still the heyday of Cantopop. EMI divested totally from the c-pop market between the years 2004–2006. After that, all Hong Kong music artists previously associated with EMI have had their music published by Gold Label, a concern unaffiliated with EMI and with which EMI does not hold any interest.

On November 21, 2000, Streamwaves and EMI signed a deal licensing EMI's catalog in a digital format for Streamwaves' online streaming music service. This was the first time EMI had licensed any of its catalog to a streaming music website.

Pop star Robbie Williams signed a 6 album deal in 2002 paying him over £80 million ($157 million), which was not only the biggest recording contract in British music history, but the second biggest in music history.

On December 15, 2005, Apple Records, the record label representing the Beatles, launched a suit against EMI for non-payment of royalties. The suit alleged that EMI have withheld $50 million from the record label. An EMI spokesman noted that audits of record label accounts are not unusual, confirming at least two hundred such audits have been performed, but that they rarely result in legal action. A legal settlement was announced on April 12, 2007. Terms were undisclosed.

On 2 April 2007, EMI announced it would begin releasing its music in DRM-free formats. Initially they are rolling out in superior sounding high-bitrate AAC format via Apple's iTunes Store (under the iTunes Plus category) . The tracks will cost $1.29/€1.29/£0.99. Legacy tracks with FairPlay DRM will still be available for $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 – albeit with lower quality sound and DRM restrictions still in place. Users will be able to ‘upgrade’ the EMI tracks that they have already bought for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20. Albums are available at the same price as their lower quality, DRM counterparts. Music videos from EMI will also be DRM-free. The higher-quality, DRM-free files became available worldwide on iTunes on May 30, 2007, and are expected to show up on other music download services soon. Since then Universal Records has also announced sales of DRM-free music (which they described as an experiment).

In May 2006, EMI attempted to buy Warner Music Group, which would have reduced the world's four largest record companies (Big Four) to three; however, the bid was rejected. Warner Music Group launched a Pac-Man defense, offering to buy EMI. EMI rejected the $4.6bn offer.

Terra Firma takeover

EMI was acquired by Terra Firma Capital Partners in August 2007. Terra Firma bought EMI for £3.2 billion after a dramatic decline in sales and the announcement that EMI had sustained a loss of £260 million in 2006/2007. At the same time, EMI's British market share dropped from 16% to 9%. Following the transition, several important artists walked away from EMI, including Radiohead. Paul McCartney left ahead of the takeover. The Rolling Stones signed a one-album deal with Interscope/Universal outside of its contract with EMI, which expired on February 2008. That group on July 2008 signed a new long term deal with Universal Music Group. The Terra Firma takeover is also reported to have been the catalyst behind a lawsuit filed by Pink Floyd over unpaid royalties.

Recent developments

Guy Hands, CEO of Terra Firma Capital Partners, came to EMI with restructuring plans to cut 1,500 to 2,000 jobs and to reduce costs by £200 million a year. In January 2008, EMI's UK chief executive Tony Wadsworth left the company after 25 years. The cuts are planned to take effect over the year 2008, and will affect up to a third of EMI's 5,500 staff. Joss Stone, an EMI signed singer is battling EMI, and hopes to leave the label. Stone has offered to forfeit £2million ($2.8 Million USA Dollars) in a desperate bid to leave the record label EMI. Stone said that after EMI was taken over by Terra Firma, her relationship with the label has gone sour and there is "no working relationship".In a recent interview with BBC 6music, Roisin Murphy clearly stated that she has left EMI because of disagreements with the label.She also commented on the difficulties she had while recording her second solo album "Overpowered".

Recently, EMI has announced that it will no longer sell CDs to independent album retailers in a bid to cut costs.

Operations

EMI Music

Labels under the EMI banner

See List of EMI labels.

Past and present EMI musicians

EMI Music Publishing

As well as the well-known record label the group also owns EMI Music Publishing, which is the largest music publisher in the world. EMI Music Publishing has won the Music Week Award for Publisher of the Year every year for over 10 years; in 2009, for the first time in history the award was shared jointly with Universal Music Publishing. As is often the case in the music industry, the publishing arm and record label are very separate businesses.

See also



References

  1. The Times, April 21, 1973, p19, "The Queen's Award to Industry"
  2. Nobelprize.org
  3. The Times, February 15, 1974, p30, "American link expands range and techniques"
  4. Honest Jon
  5. Mark Ainley on EMI's vintage recordings
  6. EMI: a giant at war with itself Telegraph, 18 January 2008
  7. Vote solid for Thorn demerger
  8. Xinhuanet. " Xinhuanet." Baak Doi and the Old Records. Retrieved on 21 April 2007.
  9. Dell PCs get pre-loaded with UMG DRM-free music
  10. EMI rejects $4.6bn Warner offer
  11. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Stones ditching EMI for Universal
  12. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1189741/Joss-Stone-sacrifice-2m-free-EMI-album-deal.html
  13. http://www.zeropaid.com/news/86637/emi-quits-selling-cds-to-indie-record-stores/
  14. http://www.musicweek.com/story.asp?sectioncode=2&storycode=1037577


Further reading

  • International Directory of Company Histories, St. James Press.


External links




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