Top 10 Major Record Labels Nowadays

Music and Business

Music performs several functions in the society, such as expression of emotions, creation of joy, communication, entertainment, integration of a society, and continuity of culture. These functions make music a human need, which results in a growing demand for music in a world. The human need or demand for music makes it a valuable item (good). Therefore, humans (artists) create music as a good that can be sold for revenues and profits. This is how music relates to business. Music is a good and many people (artists) and business (record labels) are involved in its production, distribution, and sale for profits. In fact, musicians have to acquire business skills that will help them manage their public image, organize tours and shows, design their merchandise, and build a loyal fan base. This is how music and business are related.

Main Problems Faced by Musicians

Music is an industry that has a number of aspiring artists wishing to become mainstream musicians. The road from aspirations to the establishment as a mainstream artist is often marred by a lot of problems. These problems are failure to attract record labels with demos, failure to have one’s songs reviewed in local and national newspapers and magazines, failure to attract people to one’s show, meeting promoters who are not serious about developing one’s work and image, and running out of money in the course of numerous struggles. Successful aspiring artists often get signed to major record labels that organize shows for them, promote their music, and make sure that they are well paid for their creations.

Major Record Labels

A record label is a company or corporation that manages the production, distribution, and marketing of music created by artists who have entered into contracts with it. It also enforces the copyright of music videos and sound recordings produced by it and its artists. Record labels also scout for promising aspiring talents, sign them, and help them record music, which later develops them into well-established artists. There are many record labels across the world. This raises the question, “what is a major record label?” A major record label is a record company that usually experiences a high record sales turnover. Additionally, a major record label has its own distribution system. Below is a list of 10 major record labels in the world today.

Universal Music Group (UMG)

This is the largest record label in the world. It is owned by Vivendi, a French media conglomerate, based in Paris. UMG operates as a subsidiary of Vivendi. It is based in Santa Monica, California. UMG achieved recognition as the largest record label through mergers and takeovers of record companies, such as Polygram, NBC (National Broadcasting Company), Vivendi, and EMI. Today, nearly 400 record labels are owned by UMG or jointly shared by UMG and other companies.

Sony Music Entertainment (SME)

This is the second largest record label in the world. It is owned by Sony Corporation. It is based at 550 Madison Avenue, New York City. SME reached its growth in a similar way to UMG. It merged with, acquired, and was acquired by other record companies, such as CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System), Sony Corporation, and Bertelsmann Music Group.

Warner Music Group (WMG)

It is the third largest record label in the world. It is based in New York City. WMG is the only American record label that operates worldwide with over 3500 employees in 50 countries. It is owned by Access Industries. WMG achieved its growth mainly by acquiring and operating successful record labels, such as Atlantic Records, Parlophone, and Warner Bros. Records.

The other seven major record companies are affiliated to these first three major record labels. They are discussed below.

The Island Def Jam Music Group

It is a major record label that was founded in 1998. It achieved growth by merging with more than 14 record labels, such as the Mercury Records, Def Jam Recordings, Lost Highway Records, American Recordings, Vertigo Records, Road Runner Records, Def Soul Records, Roc-A-Fella Records, Islands Records, and many others. Additionally, it works with best pop artists of the day, such as Elton John, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, August Alsina, and Rihanna to record music, and this fact has helped it grow. It is based in New York City. Currently, it is fully-owned by Universal Music Group.

Virgin Records

It is a major record label that was founded in 1972 by Tom Newman, Richard Branson, Nik Powell, and Simon Draper. It is based in Hollywood, California. It achieved its growth through signing and nurturing successful artists like Spice Girls, Janet Jackson, Keith Richards, Simple Minds, Genesis, and many more. Later it was acquired by EMI in1992. Today it is fully owned by UMG (Universal Music Group).

Aftermath Entertainment

It is a record label that was founded in 1996 by Dr. Dre. It is based in Santa Monica, California. Its growth was propelled by its focus on a few quality high profile releases. 77% of released albums have earned platinum or higher certification from RIAA. Currently, the label is owned by Universal Music Group. It is one of the latest top record labels in the world.

Rhino Entertainment

It is a record label that was founded in 1978 by Richard Foos and Harold Bronson. It is based in Los Angeles, California. The record label achieved growth and respect in the music industry producing music records of superior sound quality and packaging their tapes creatively. Rhino entertainment is currently fully-owned by the Warner Music Group after it was purchased by the corporation in 1998.

Epic Records

It was founded in 1953 by CBS Records. It achieved commercial success by nurturing and working with celebrated artists, such as Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Shakira, Fiona Apple, Boston, Pearl Jam and many more. The record label is based in New York City. It is fully owned by Sony Music Entertainment.

RCA Records

This is one of the oldest record labels in the United States. It was founded in 1901 by Eldridge R. Johnson and Emile Berliner. The record label is based in New York City. RCA Records achieved immense growth by signing and nurturing successful artist, like Elvis Presley for example. Additionally, it has also built a state-of-the-art studio in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1957, producing hit after hit for the next two decades. This fact drove the label to a worldwide acclamation. Undergoing mergers and acquisitions over the years, currently RCA is owned by the Sony Music Entertainment as a stand-alone label.

Cash Money Records

It is one of the latest top record labels. It was founded in 1991 by Bryan Williams (Birdman) and Ronald Williams (Slim). It is based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The record achieved growth by nurturing talents such as Juvenile and B.G., whose works attracted the executives of the Universal Music Group. This later has led to the purchase of Cash Money Records by UMG. Resources brought in by UMG enabled Cash Money Records to achieve higher levels of success.

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