A Quick Look at the Top 10 Biggest Music Record Labels In The World
Here is a summary of the top 10 biggest music record labels in the world:
- Columbia Records
- Universal Music Group
- Warner Music Group
- RCA Records
- Virgin Records
- Capitol Music Group
- Atlantic Records
- Interscope Records
- BMG Rights Management
- Sony Music Entertainment
Top 10 Biggest Music Record Labels In The World
1. Columbia Records
Columbia Records is the oldest name in the music industry, founded by Alexander Graham Bell and his cousin Chichester A. Bell in 1889. It acquired recording music legends like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, and Ada Jones. In the late 60s, CEO Mitch Miller retired and Clive Davis stepped in as CEO, signing Janis Joplin, Santana, Chicago, Aerosmith, and Pink Floyd. In 1988, Columbia Records became part of the Sony Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
Contemporary artists on Columbia Label Group include Arcade Fire, Lauren Jauregui, Robbie Williams, and some of the best DJs in the world.
2. Universal Music Group
Rick Rubin founded Universal Music Group, the biggest record label in the world, with connections in over 60 territories. It is diversified and owns many smaller labels, publishing companies, merchandising, and audiovisual media.
Universal Music Group has developed and and advanced the careers of many talented musicians and artists, such as Lady Gaga, Luke Bryan, Imagine Dragons, and The Beatles.
3. Warner Music Group
Warner Bros. Records is third in the music industry, despite controversy with YouTube and CD price fixing.
Warner Music Group was founded in 1958 by movie moguls Warner Brothers and acquired other record labels to build its catalog. It is unique in that its artists represent all popular music genres, such as R&B, classic pop and electropop, and is the third-biggest record label in the world due to its deep catalog of artists and publishing catalog.
4. RCA Records
RCA began in 1919 as an electronics company and pioneered the tube radio. In 1929, they purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of phonographs, and created a subsidiary company called RCA Victor which became famous for introducing the vinyl album, which played at 33 1/3 RPM and was popular until the 90s when compact discs entered the market.
RCA Record’s revenue changed when they signed Elvis Presley in 1968, but in the 80s, they turned things around with the help of Foo Fighters, Britney Spears, Dave Matthews Band, and Christina Aguilera. Today, RCA Records is owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a Sony Corporation of America subsidiary.
Current artists include Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Doja Cat, and Nardo Wick.
5. Virgin Records
Virgin Records was founded in 1972 by entrepreneurs Richard Branson, Nik Powell, Tom Newman and Simon Draper. It signed a number of popular artists, including Spice Girls, Janet Jackson, Simple Minds, the Human League, Mike Oldfield and Genesis. In 1992, EMI purchased Virgin Records and sold it to Universal Music Group in 2012. Today, Virgin Records is among the biggest record labels in the world.
Contemporary artists currently on Virgin Records roster include Peter Gabriel, Stephen Wilson, and many more.
6. Capitol Records
Capitol Music Group was formed in 1942 by Buddy DeSylva, Johnny Mercer, and Glenn E. Wallichs. It signed notable artists such as Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, and Billie Holiday, and released educational records to teach children about music. In 2007, EMI acquired the label and today it is one of the top ten record labels on the planet.
7. Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records started as a jazz, R&B, and soul music label in 1947 and became part of Warner Music Group in 1967. It added notable artists like Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills, & Nash and has signed some of the world’s top earning artists. Atlantic Records broadened its market share by releasing the soundtracks to musicals “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “The Greatest Showman
Other star artists on Atlantic Records include Ed Sheeran, Burna Boy, and Sweden’s pop sensation ABBA
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8. Interscope Records
Interscope Records was founded in 1990 by Ted Field and Jimmy Iovine and has become one of the world’s most successful record labels. In 1992, they acquired Death Row Records, which was accused of glorifying violence and abusing women, but still had high sales and earnings. Today, it is still a renegade label, signing artists on the fringe.
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9. BMG Rights Management
BMG is a joint venture between Bertelsmann and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, established in 2008, with operations in cities such as Berlin, Sydney, Stockholm, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Paris, London, Los Angeles and more. Its clients include Afrojack, DJ Snake, Avril Lavigne, John Legend, The Black Eyed Peas, Frank Ocean, DJ Khaled, and MGMT.
It has the fourth-largest publishing catalog globally and is heavily invested in books, films, and synch. It has invested in independent labels and has acquired Union Square, Mute, Sanctuary, and hip-hop sensation RBC. BMG markets itself as “The New Music Company” that aspire to provide artists transparent and fair contracts with cutting-edge technology for marketing.
10. Sony Music Entertainment
SME is one of the biggest major record labels on the planet. It began in 1929 and has gone through numerous mergers and acquisitions. In 1987, it purchased Columbia Recording Corporation Records and renamed it Sony Music Entertainment in 1991. It formed a joint venture with Michael Jackson in 1995 to create Sony/ATV Music Publishing and has many subsidiary labels.
It has many subsidiary labels, including Epic Records and RCA Records, and has many artists in its best songs of all time playlist, such as Black Eyed Peas, Pharrell Williams, Bruce Springsteen, Yo-Ya Ma, Willie Nelson, and Casting Crowns