Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
PolyGram

PolyGram

Discussion
Ask a question about 'PolyGram'
Start a new discussion about 'PolyGram'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
PolyGram was the name of the major label recording company started by Philips
Philips
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. , more commonly known as Philips, is a multinational Dutch electronics company....

 from as a holding company
Holding company
A holding company is a company or firm that owns other companies' outstanding stock. It usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow...

 for its music interests in 1945. In 1999 it was sold to Seagram
Seagram
The Seagram Company Ltd. was a large corporation headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada that was the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world. Toward the end of its independent existence it also controlled various entertainment and other business ventures...

 and merged into Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

.

Hollandsche Decca Distributie (HDD), 1929-1950


In 1929, Decca Records
Decca Records
Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades....

 (London) licensed record shop owner H.W. van Zoelen as a distributor in the Netherlands. By 1931, his company Hollandsche Decca Distributie (HDD) had become exclusive Decca distributor for all of the Netherlands and its colonies. Over the course of the 1930s, HDD put together its own facilities for A&R, recording and manufacture.

HDD was commerially successful during World War II because of the absence of American and British competition. Van Zoelen wanted to sell to Philips
Philips
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. , more commonly known as Philips, is a multinational Dutch electronics company....

 so that HDD would have sufficient financial backing when their major competitors returned after the war. This led Philips to buy HDD in 1942.

In the mid-twentieth century, the majority of large recording companies manufactured both gramophones and records; Philips CEO Anton Philips
Anton Philips
Anton Frederik Philips co-founded Royal Philips Electronics N.V. in 1912 with his older brother Gerard Philips in Eindhoven, the Netherlands...

 noted the risk in creating gramophones without an interest in music recording and record manufacture, and that Radio Corporation of America (RCA) had merged with the Victor Talking Machine Company
Victor Talking Machine Company
The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American corporation, the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. It was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey....

 in 1929 for this reason. Philips' labs were developing magnetic tape
Magnetic tape
Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic recording, made of a thin magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic. It was developed in Germany, based on magnetic wire recording. Devices that record and play back audio and video using magnetic tape are tape recorders and video tape recorders...

 and LPs, and that record companies ould support eventual new formats, although other record companies were notably unenthusiastic about experimenting with new formats.

After the war, Philips built a large factory in Doetinchem
Doetinchem
Doetinchem is a city and municipality in the east of the Netherlands. It is situated along the Oude IJssel river in a part of the province of Gelderland called the Achterhoek . The municipality has 56,700 inhabitants and has an area of 79.66 km²...

 to produce 78 rpm records.

Philips Phonografische Industrie (PPI), 1950-1962


In the 1940s, the record business was spread out within Philips — research in the Eindhoven labs, development elsewhere in Eindhoven, recording in Hilversum
Hilversum
is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. Located in the region called "'t Gooi", it is the largest town in that area. It is surrounded by heathland, woods, meadows, lakes, and smaller villages...

, manufacturing in Doetinchem
Doetinchem
Doetinchem is a city and municipality in the east of the Netherlands. It is situated along the Oude IJssel river in a part of the province of Gelderland called the Achterhoek . The municipality has 56,700 inhabitants and has an area of 79.66 km²...

, distribution from Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 and exports from Eindhoven. During the late 1940s, Philips combined its various music businesses into Philips Phonografische Industrie (PPI), a wholly owned subsidiary.

PPI's early growth was based on alliances. A merger was first proposed with Decca of London in late 1945, but was rejected by Edward Lewis
Edward Lewis (Decca)
Sir Edward Roberts Lewis was an English businessman, best known for leading the Decca recording and technology group for five decades from 1929. He built the company up from nothing to one of the major record labels of the world.A financier by profession, Lewis was professionally engaged by the...

, Decca's owner. (PolyGram finally acquired Decca in 1979.)

In the early 1950s, Philips set itself the goal of making PPI the largest record company in Europe.

PPI's second attempt at a merger was with Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon is a German classical record label which was the foundation of the future corporation to be known as PolyGram. It is now part of Universal Music Group since its acquisition and absorption of PolyGram in 1999, and it is also UMG's oldest active label...

 Gesellschaft (DGG). DGG, owned by Siemens AG
Siemens AG
Siemens AG is a German multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Munich, Germany. It is the largest Europe-based electronics and electrical engineering company....

 and well-known for its classical repertoire, had been the German licensee for Decca from 1935. DGG also owned Polydor Records
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

.
Shortly after PPI was founded it had made a formal alliance with DGG to manufacture each others' records, coordinate releases and not to poach each others' artists or bid against each other for new talent. PPI and DGG finally merged in 1962.

The alliance with DGG still left PPI without repertoire in Britain or the US. But in 1951, after Columbia
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

 had failed to renew its international distribution agreement with EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

, PPI agreed to distribute Columbia recordings outside the US and have Columbia distribute its recordings inside the US. This agreement ran until 1961, when Columbia set up its own European network, PPI signed a worldwide distribution deal with Mercury Records
Mercury Records
Mercury Records is a record label operating as a standalone company in the UK and as part of the Island Def Jam Motown Music Group in the US; both are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group. There is also a Mercury Records in Australia, which is a local artist and repertoire division of Universal...

 in 1961. Ironically, PPI's parent company Philips, through its U.S. affiliate Consolidated Electronics Industries Corp (a.k.a Conelco), acquired Mercury in 1962.

PPI built or bought factories in smaller countries. In 1962, PPI had a large factory in Baarn
Baarn
Baarn is a municipality and a town in the Netherlands, in the province of Utrecht.-The municipality Baarn :The municipality of Baarn consists of the following towns: Baarn, Eembrugge, Lage Vuursche.- The town Baarn :...

 and factories in France, Britain, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Nigeria and Brazil.

PPI played an important role in the introduction of the long-playing vinyl record to Europe. Columbia introduced their LP record
Gramophone record
A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph record , vinyl record , or colloquially, a record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove...

 in 1948 and Philips presented its first LP at a record retailers' convention in 1949. Philips' commitment to LP technology was an important factor in its 1951-1961 deal with Columbia.

GPG and PolyGram, 1962-1980


In 1962, PPI and DGG formed the Grammophon-Philips Group (GPG), with Philips taking a 50% share in DGG and Siemens a 50% share in PPI. In 1972 the companies formally merged to form PolyGram, of which Philips and Siemens each owned 50%. In 1977 both organizations merged operationally, integrating the recording, manufacturing, distribution and marketing into a single organization.

The various record labels within PolyGram continued to operate separately. PolyGram gave its labels, as A&R
A&R
Artists and repertoire is the division of a record label that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists. It also acts as a liaison between artists and the record label.- Finding talent :...

 organizations, great autonomy.

GPG needed to move into the US and UK markets, and did so by a process of both formation and acquisition: Polydor Records
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

 established its American operations in 1969, Mercury
Mercury Records
Mercury Records is a record label operating as a standalone company in the UK and as part of the Island Def Jam Motown Music Group in the US; both are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group. There is also a Mercury Records in Australia, which is a local artist and repertoire division of Universal...

 Record Productions (US) was acquired in 1972 from sister company North American Philips Corp., RSO
RSO Records
RSO Records was a record label, formed by rock and roll and musical theatre impresario Robert Stigwood in 1973. The "RSO" stands for the Robert Stigwood Organisation. The company's main headquarters were at 67 Brook Street, in London's Mayfair...

 (UK) in 1967, MGM Records
MGM Records
MGM Records was a record label started by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio in 1946, for the purpose of releasing soundtrack albums of their musical films. Later it became a pop label, lasting into the 1970s...

 and Verve
Verve Records
Verve Records is an American jazz record label now owned by Universal Music Group. It was founded by Norman Granz in 1956, absorbing the catalogues of his earlier labels, Clef Records and Norgran Records , and material which had been licensed to Mercury previously.-Jazz and folk origins:The Verve...

 (US) in 1972, Casablanca
Casablanca Records
Casablanca Records was an American record label started by Neil Bogart, who partnered with Cecil Holmes, Larry Harris, and Buck Reingold in 1973, and based in Los Angeles. The label was formed after all of them had left Buddah Records and secured financing by Warner Bros. Records to start the venture...

 (US) in 1977, Pickwick
Pickwick
Pickwick may refer to:*The Pickwick Papers, a novel by Charles Dickens, or its main character, Mr Pickwick**The Pickwick Papers , a british 1952-film**The Pickwick Papers ....

 in 1978, and Decca
Decca Records
Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades....

 (UK) in 1980 (the latter acquisition basically brought PolyGram full circle, see the HDD section above). PolyGram acquired United Distribution Corporation (UDC) in 1973 and signed distribution deals with MCA
MCA Records
MCA Records was an American-based record company owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger MCA Music Entertainment Group , of which MCA Records was still part. MCA Records was absorbed by Geffen Records in 2003...

 and 20th Century Records
20th Century Records
20th Century Fox Records, also known as 20th Fox Records and 20th Century Records, was a subsidiary of film studio 20th Century Fox.-History:It began in 1958 as 20th Fox Records. In 1963, 20th Fox Records became 20th Century-Fox Records...

 in 1976.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Philips had been at work on a new consumer magnetic tape
Magnetic tape
Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic recording, made of a thin magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic. It was developed in Germany, based on magnetic wire recording. Devices that record and play back audio and video using magnetic tape are tape recorders and video tape recorders...

 format for music. The Philips compact cassette
Compact Cassette
The Compact Cassette, often referred to as audio cassette, cassette tape, cassette, or simply tape, is a magnetic tape sound recording format. It was designed originally for dictation, but improvements in fidelity led the Compact Cassette to supplant the Stereo 8-track cartridge and reel-to-reel...

 came out in 1963. It was small, played longer than an LP and was robust. In 1965 the cassette accounted for 3% of revenues, growing in 1968 to 8% and in 1970 to 10.6%.

In the late 1960s and through the 1970s, GPG/PolyGram diversified into film and television production and home video. RSO's successes included Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 drama film directed by John Badham and starring: John Travolta as Tony Manero, an immature young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discothèque; Karen Lynn Gorney as his dance partner and eventual friend; and Donna Pescow as Tony's former dance...

and Grease
Grease (film)
Grease is a 1978 American musical film directed by Randal Kleiser and based on Warren Casey's and Jim Jacobs's 1971 musical of the same name about two lovers in a 1950s high school. The film stars John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, and Jeff Conaway...

. PolyGram's highly successful marketing during the disco
Disco
Disco is a genre of dance music. Disco acts charted high during the mid-1970s, and the genre's popularity peaked during the late 1970s. It had its roots in clubs that catered to African American, gay, psychedelic, and other communities in New York City and Philadelphia during the late 1960s and...

 craze included the Casablanca film Thank God It's Friday
Thank God It's Friday
The triple album was, unlike the movie, a commercial success. It contained contributions from some of the biggest names in disco at the time, including Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Thelma Houston, The Commodores, and many others....

and its associated soundtrack. During the boom in disco, PolyGram's US market share had gone from 5% to 20%. This can also be attributed to multi-million selling LPs & 45s by The Bee Gees
Bee Gees
The Bee Gees are a musical group that originally comprised three brothers: Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The trio was successful for most of their 40-plus years of recording music, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success: as a pop act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and as a...

, Donna Summer
Donna Summer
LaDonna Adrian Gaines , known by her stage name, Donna Summer, is an American singer/songwriter who gained prominence during the disco era of the 1970s. She has a mezzo-soprano vocal range. Summer is a five-time Grammy winner and was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach...

, The Village People
Village People
Village People is a concept disco group that formed in the United States in 1977, well known for their on-stage costumes depicting American cultural stereotypes, as well as their catchy tunes and suggestive lyrics....

, Andy Gibb
Andy Gibb
Andy Gibb was an English singer and teen idol, and the youngest brother of the family whose other male siblings formed the Bee Gees: Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb.-The early years:...

, Kool and The Gang and rock act Kiss
KISS (band)
Kiss is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973. Well-known for its members' face paint and flamboyant stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting,...

. For a short while, it was the world's largest record company.

Reorganization, 1980-1999


Before 1978, with the acquisition of UDC, the distribution organization was too large and PolyGram was losing money. When US operations were running at full capacity, PolyGram expanded aggressively, and would press large quantities of records without knowing the demand. In late 1979, Polygram was caught offguard by the sudden end of the popularity of disco music, leaving it with an underutilized distribution network, profligate labels, and overoptimistic product orders. Polygram's Casablanca label was infamous for management spending on luxury cars and cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

. After 1980, PolyGram's losses had spiraled upwards of US$220 million.

Another contributing factor to Polygram's financial woes was the massive failure of the big budget 1978 musical Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (film)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a 1978 American musical film. Its soundtrack, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, features new versions of songs originally written and performed by The Beatles. The film draws primarily from two of their albums, 1967's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club...

. The film starred the Bee Gees
Bee Gees
The Bee Gees are a musical group that originally comprised three brothers: Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The trio was successful for most of their 40-plus years of recording music, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success: as a pop act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and as a...

 and Peter Frampton
Peter Frampton
Peter Kenneth Frampton is an English musician, singer, producer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. He was previously associated with the bands Humble Pie and The Herd. Frampton's international breakthrough album was his live release, Frampton Comes Alive!. The album sold over 6 million copies...

 at the height of popularity, and featured Beatle
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

 covers by them as well as Aerosmith
Aerosmith
Aerosmith is an American rock band, sometimes referred to as "The Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many...

, Billy Preston
Billy Preston
William Everett "Billy" Preston was a musician who gained notoriety and fame, first as a session musician for the likes of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and The Beatles, and later finding fame as a solo artist with hits such as "Space Race", "Will It Go Round in Circles" and "Nothing from...

, and Earth, Wind, and Fire. The film was highly anticipated to surpass the box office
Box office
A box office is a place where tickets are sold to the public for admission to an event. Patrons may perform the transaction at a countertop, through an unblocked hole through a wall or window, or at a wicket....

 success of both the Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 drama film directed by John Badham and starring: John Travolta as Tony Manero, an immature young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discothèque; Karen Lynn Gorney as his dance partner and eventual friend; and Donna Pescow as Tony's former dance...

and Grease
Grease (film)
Grease is a 1978 American musical film directed by Randal Kleiser and based on Warren Casey's and Jim Jacobs's 1971 musical of the same name about two lovers in a 1950s high school. The film stars John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, and Jeff Conaway...

, mostly due to the film's popular music stars. The soundtrack LP, based on only advance orders, was released triple platinum. However, the movie was released to poor reviews and died a quick death at the box office. Despite its triple platinum start, the soundtrack LP's sales bombed after the film's release. In turn, record dealers flooded Polygram with returned LPs. The resulting losses nearly wiped out the profits the company had made on both the Saturday Night Fever and Grease soundtracks. When the disco craze ended in 1979 and record sales for both The Bee Gees and Casablanca's Village People
Village People
Village People is a concept disco group that formed in the United States in 1977, well known for their on-stage costumes depicting American cultural stereotypes, as well as their catchy tunes and suggestive lyrics....

 plummeted, the company's fate was sealed. PolyGram also experienced losses with the defection of Casablanca's Donna Summer
Donna Summer
LaDonna Adrian Gaines , known by her stage name, Donna Summer, is an American singer/songwriter who gained prominence during the disco era of the 1970s. She has a mezzo-soprano vocal range. Summer is a five-time Grammy winner and was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach...

 to newly formed Geffen
Geffen Records
Geffen Records is an American record label, owned by Universal Music Group, and operated as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.-Beginnings:...

 as well as the dropping of Andy Gibb
Andy Gibb
Andy Gibb was an English singer and teen idol, and the youngest brother of the family whose other male siblings formed the Bee Gees: Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb.-The early years:...

 (from RSO), whose personal problems with cocaine and alcohol began to affect his recording career. Summer and The Bee Gees also had legal disputes with their labels, which further complicated matters.

In 1983, Philips manager Jan Timmer was appointed CEO. He cut the workforce from 13,000 to 7,000, reduced PolyGram's LP and cassette plants from eighteen to five and decreased the company's dependence on superstars by spreading the repertoire across different genres and nurturing national and regional talent. By 1985, PolyGram was profitable once more. Its roster of labels by this time included: Polydor
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

, Mercury Records
Mercury Records
Mercury Records is a record label operating as a standalone company in the UK and as part of the Island Def Jam Motown Music Group in the US; both are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group. There is also a Mercury Records in Australia, which is a local artist and repertoire division of Universal...

, London/FFRR
FFRR Records
FFRR Records is a subsidiary of London Records, founded and run by English DJ Pete Tong. FFRR has also two subsidiaries: Double F Double R Records and Ffrreedom Records...

, Casablanca
Casablanca Records
Casablanca Records was an American record label started by Neil Bogart, who partnered with Cecil Holmes, Larry Harris, and Buck Reingold in 1973, and based in Los Angeles. The label was formed after all of them had left Buddah Records and secured financing by Warner Bros. Records to start the venture...

 (until 1986, later to be reincarnated in 1994), RSO
RSO Records
RSO Records was a record label, formed by rock and roll and musical theatre impresario Robert Stigwood in 1973. The "RSO" stands for the Robert Stigwood Organisation. The company's main headquarters were at 67 Brook Street, in London's Mayfair...

, De-Lite
De-Lite Records
De-Lite Records whose formal name was De-Lite Recorded Sound Corporation was a record label specializing in R&B music. It was founded in 1969 by music producer Gene Redd and one of the label's first signings was Kool and the Gang whose self-titled instrumental was their first big R&B hit in that...

, Riva
Riva Records
Riva Records was a record label founded the UK in 1975 by Billy Gaff, manager of Rod Stewart.Rod Stewart signed to the label in the UK, but stayed with Warner Bros. Records in the US. Another well known artist on the label was John Cougar Mellencamp, distributed by PolyGram in the US, and WEA in...

, Threshold
Threshold Records
Threshold Records was a record label created by The Moody Blues, after their 1969 album On the Threshold of a Dream.It was a UK subsidiary of Decca Records and a U.S. subsidiary of London Records...

 (owned by The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues are an English rock band. Among their innovations was a fusion with classical music, most notably in their 1967 album Days of Future Passed....

), Tin Pan Alley (under Polydor
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

), and Atlanta Artists
Atlanta Artists
Atlanta Artists was a sub-label of Polygram Records founded by Larry Blackmon of the group Cameo.-Origins:After Cameo's 7th album, Knights of the Sound Table , Blackmon reduced the group from 10 members to a 5-member unit....

 (founded by Cameo
Cameo (band)
Cameo is an American soul-influenced funk group that formed in the early 1970s. Cameo was initially a 13-member group known as the New York City Players; this name was later changed to Cameo to avoid a lawsuit from Ohio Players, another group from that era. Since then, Cameo has recorded several...

 lead singer Larry Blackmon
Larry Blackmon
Larry Ernest Blackmon is the lead singer and frontman for the funk and R&B band, Cameo. He came to Cameo from the band, Black Ivory....

) all consolidated into PolyGram Records, Inc.

Total Experience Records
Total Experience Records
Total Experience Records was a record label founded in 1977 by Lonnie Simmons. Its two major acts were The Gap Band and Yarbrough & Peoples. It originally began as a production company with a distribution deal through Mercury/PolyGram before becoming a full fledged label in 1981...

 (founded by Lonnie Simmons) was taken to RCA
RCA Records
RCA Records is one of the flagship labels of Sony Music Entertainment. The RCA initials stand for Radio Corporation of America , which was the parent corporation from 1929 to 1985 and a partner from 1985 to 1986.RCA's Canadian unit is Sony's oldest label...

 for distribution in 1984. Wing Records
Wing Records
Wing Records was a record label subsidiary of Mercury Records, founded in 1955, that enjoyed its greatest success during the late 50s. In 1986, the label was revived by Mercury's parent company PolyGram and, just before its final fade, the label enjoyed a brief success with then new R&B singers...

 was reincarnated in 1987 and became a very popular label over the following years, spawning the careers of Tony! Toni! Tone!
Tony! Toni! Toné!
Tony! Toni! Toné! is an American Soul/R&B group from Oakland, California, popular during the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s. During the band's heyday, it was composed of D'wayne Wiggins on lead vocals and guitar, his brother Raphael Saadiq on lead vocals and bass, and their cousin Timothy...

 and former Miss America
Miss America
The Miss America pageant is a long-standing competition which awards scholarships to young women from the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands...

, Vanessa Williams
Vanessa L. Williams
Vanessa Lynn Williams is an American pop-R&B recording artist, producer, dancer, model, actress and showgirl. In 1983, she became the first woman of African-American descent to be crowned Miss America, but a scandal generated by her having posed for nude photographs published in Penthouse magazine...

; the label was discontinued in the mid-1990s. Fontana was revived in the U.S. in 1989, but only for a short while. Today, Fontana Distribution
Fontana Distribution
Fontana Distribution is a subsidiary of Universal Music Group that was launched in 2004, which deals in distribution, as well as in a range of sales, marketing, and back office support services, for a diverse roster of independent record labels and their artists. The company takes its name and logo...

 is an independent label distribution unit of Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

. Vertigo Records
Vertigo Records
Vertigo Records today is a UK-based record label operated by Universal Music UK.-History:Vertigo Records was the name Philips Records chose in the late 1960s for its record sub-label to counter the progressive labels of its rivals EMI with Harvest Records and Decca Records with Deram...

 still remained a rare U.S. PolyGram label, as most of the music on Vertigo Records
Vertigo Records
Vertigo Records today is a UK-based record label operated by Universal Music UK.-History:Vertigo Records was the name Philips Records chose in the late 1960s for its record sub-label to counter the progressive labels of its rivals EMI with Harvest Records and Decca Records with Deram...

 were from Europe.

In 1982, Polygram purchases 20th Century Fox Records from 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation — also known as 20th Century Fox, or simply 20th or Fox — is one of the six major American film studios...

, which was just recently brought out by oil magnate Marvin Davis, whom was not interested in keeping the record company. The assets of the former 20th Century Fox Records were consolidated with the company's Casablanca
Casablanca Records
Casablanca Records was an American record label started by Neil Bogart, who partnered with Cecil Holmes, Larry Harris, and Buck Reingold in 1973, and based in Los Angeles. The label was formed after all of them had left Buddah Records and secured financing by Warner Bros. Records to start the venture...

 label.

After an attempted 1983 merger with Warner Music
Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

 failed, Philips bought 40% of PolyGram from Siemens, acquiring the remaining 10% in 1987.

The compact disc
Compact Disc
The Compact Disc is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage , write-once audio and data storage , rewritable media , Video Compact Discs , Super Video Compact Discs ,...

, invented by Philips
Philips
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. , more commonly known as Philips, is a multinational Dutch electronics company....

 and Sony
Sony
, commonly referred to as Sony, is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and the world's fifth largest media conglomerate measured by revenues....

, helped greatly in boosting the company's sales and market share. PolyGram's strength in classical music helped greatly, as many of the CD's early adopters were classical music lovers. Total US sales of CDs were 1 million in 1983, 334 million in 1990 and 943 million in 2000. Total UK sales were 300,000 in
1983, 51 million in 1990 and 202 million in 2000. The CD increased PolyGram's profit margin from 4-6% in the mid-1980s to 7-9% by the early 1990s. As well, videos were distributed by PolyGram Video.

In 1989, Philips floated 16% of PolyGram on the Amsterdam stock exchange, valuing the whole company at $5.6 billion. PolyGram embarked on a new program of acquisitions, including A&M
A&M Records
A&M Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group that operates under the mantle of its Interscope-Geffen-A&M division.-Beginnings:...

 and Island Records
Island Records
Island Records is a record label that was founded by Chris Blackwell in Jamaica. It was based in the United Kingdom for many years and is now owned by Universal Music Group...

 in 1989, Swedish company Polar Music
Polar Music
Polar Music is a Swedish record company founded in 1963 by Stig Anderson and his friend Bengt Bernhag. The first act that it signed was the Hootenanny Singers featuring Björn Ulvaeus. Polar eventually gained prosperity producing Ulvæus' next group, international superstars ABBA...

 which held the rights to the ABBA
ABBA
ABBA was a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm in 1970 which consisted of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Fältskog...

 catalogue, Motown in 1993, Def Jam in 1994 and Rodven (Venezuela) in 1995.

In 1999, Philips sold PolyGram to Seagram
Seagram
The Seagram Company Ltd. was a large corporation headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada that was the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world. Toward the end of its independent existence it also controlled various entertainment and other business ventures...

 and it was merged into Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is an American music group, the largest of the "big four" record companies by its commanding market share and its multitude of global operations...

. The name survives via reissue of music under the Polydor Records
Polydor Records
Polydor is a record label owned by Universal Music Group, headquartered in the United Kingdom.-Beginnings:Polydor was originally an independent branch of the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Its name was first used as an export label in 1924, the British and German branches of the Gramophone...

 label.

See also

  • List of record labels
  • Working Title Films
    Working Title Films
    Working Title Films is a British film production company, based in London, UK. The company was founded by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe in 1983. It produces feature films and several television productions, including films starring comic actor Rowan Atkinson...

  • PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
    PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
    PolyGram Filmed Entertainment was a film studio, founded in 1979 as a European competitor to Hollywood, but eventually sold and merged with Universal Pictures in 1999....

  • Chocolate City Records
    Chocolate City Records
    Chocolate City Records was a record label subsidiary of Casablanca Records & Filmworks. It was started in 1975 by Cecil Holmes, Neil Bogart's partner at Casablanca...


External links

  • PolyGram at last.fm
    Last.fm
    Last.fm is a music website, founded in the United Kingdom in 2002. It has claimed 30 million active users in March 2009. On 30 May 2007, CBS Interactive acquired Last.fm for UK£140m ....

    .