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EMI (1931)

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  Summary  

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 publishing arm, EMI Music Publishing — also based in London with offices globally. The company was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but since February 2011 it was wholly owned by Citigroup (which took the then financially troubled company over because of more than $4 billion in debt it held). EMI is a member of the RIAA & IFPI.

In November 2011 Citigroup announced a tentative deal to sell off pieces of the company with the music arm going to Vivendi's Universal Music Group for $1.9 billion and the publishing business going to a consortium led by Sony for around $2.2 billion. Other members of the Sony consortium include Blackstone and Abu Dhabi-owned investment fund Mubadala. Both before and after the sale announcement, Universal Music Group pledged to sell off EMI assets to the value of half a billion Euros.

  Biography  

EMI Ltd was formed in March 1931 by the merger of the Columbia Graphophone Company and the Gramophone Company, with its "His Master's Voice" record label, firms that have a history extending back to the origins of recorded sound. The new vertically integrated company produced sound recordings as well as recording and playback equipment.

 Manufacturing
The company's gramophone manufacturing led to forty years of success with larger-scale electronics and electrical engineering. Alan Blumlein, a skilled engineer employed by EMI, conducted a great deal of pioneering research into stereo sound recording, however many years prior to the perfection of the medium in the early '50s, he was killed in 1942 whilst conducting trials on an experimental H2S radar unit. During and after World War II, the EMI Laboratories in Hayes, Hillingdon developed radar equipment and guided missiles, employing analogue computers. 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 . 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 Glenrothes, Scotland, was owned 51% by Hughes Aircraft, of California, U.S., 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 India, Australia and New Zealand. 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 began to challenge the near monopoly of EMI. 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 Road, 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 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 & Musical 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 for just US$70,500 by ARC-BRC (American Record Corporation–Brunswick Record Company), which also acquired the OKeh label.

RCA sold its stake in EMI in 1935, but due to its earlier takeover of the Victor label in 1929, RCA retained the North and South American rights to the "Nipper" trademark. In other countries, the Dog and Phonograph Logo was used by the EMI subsidiary label HMV, even though the slogan itself would be retained by RCA along with the logo.

In 1938 ARC-Brunswick was taken over by CBS, which then sold the American Brunswick label to American Decca Records, which along with its' other properties, Aeolian Records and Vocalion Records, used it as a subsidiary budget label afterward. CBS then operated Columbia as its flagship label in both the United States and Canada.

However. to make it even more confusing, EMI retained the rights to the Columbia name in most other territories including the UK, Australia and New Zealand. It continued to operate the label with moderate success until 1972, when it was retired and replaced by the EMI Records imprint, so if you see any Columbia Records manufactured outside North America between 1972 and 1992, they are rare indeed.

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 and EMI entered the American market by acquiring 96% of the stock for Capitol Records USA.

From 1960 to 1995 their "EMI House," corporate headquarters was located at 20 Manchester Square London, England, the stairwell from which was featured on the cover of the Beatles' Please Please Me album. In addition, an unused shot from the Please Please Me photo session featuring the boys in short hair and cleancut attire, was used for the cover of the Beatles' first double-disc greatest-hits compilation entitled 1962–1966 (aka "The Red Album"). In 1969, Angus McBean took a matching group photograph featuring the boys in long hair and beards to contrast with the earlier cleancut image in order to show that the boys could have appeal across a wide range of audiences. This photo was originally intended for the Get Back album which later was entitled Let It Be. The photo was used instead for the cover of the Beatles second greatest-hits double-disc compilation entitled 1967–1970 (aka "The Blue Album").

EMI's classical artists of the period were largely limited to the prestigious British orchestras, such as the Philharmonia Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra. During the era of the long-playing record , very few U.S. orchestras had their principal recording contracts with EMI, one notable exception being that of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, especially during the tenure of William Steinberg.

From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, the company enjoyed huge success in the popular music field under the management of Sir Joseph Lockwood. The strong combination of EMI and its subsidiary labels along with a roster of stellar groups such as The Hollies, The Shadows, The Beach Boys, and, The Beatles
along with hit solo performers such as Frank Sinatra, Cliff Richard, and Nat 'King' Cole, made EMI the best-known and most successful recording company in the world at that time.

In 1967, while shifting their pop and rock music roster to Columbia, EMI converted HMV solely to a classical music label exclusively. For the emerging progressive rock genre including Pink Floyd, who had debuted on Columbia, EMI established a new subsidiary label, Harvest Records two years later.

In 1971, Electric & Musical Industries changed its name to EMI Ltd. and a year later EMI replaced the Columbia label with the EMI Records imprint. Two years later, The Gramophone Company subsidiary became EMI Records Ltd as well, and in February 1979, EMI Ltd acquired United Artists Records and with it their subsidiary labels Liberty Records and Imperial Records.

Eight months later, THORN Electrical Industries merged with EMI Ltd. to form Thorn EMI.

Ten years later in 1989, Thorn EMI bought a 50% interest in Chrysalis Records, completing the buyout two years later. Six months after completing the buyout of Chrysalis, Thorn EMI bought Virgin Records from Richard Branson in one of its highest-profile and most expensive acquisitions in record music history.

 Aftermath of demerger from Thorn
Due to the increasing divergence of business models, Thorn EMI shareholders voted in favour of demerger proposals on 16 August 1996. The resulting media company was now known as EMI Group PLC.

Since the 1930s, the Baak Doi label heaquartered in Shanghai had been published under the EMI banner and since then, EMI had also been the dominant label in the cantopop market in Hong Kong until the genre's decline in the mid 1980s. Between the years 2004–2006, EMI then completely and totally divested itself from the c-pop market, and 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 21 November 2000, Streamwaves and EMI signed a deal licensing EMI's catalogue in a digital format for their online streaming music service. This was the first time EMI had licensed any of its catalogue 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 at the time, but also the second biggest in music history behind that of Michael Jackson.

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

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 also available at the same price as their lower quality, DRM counterparts and music videos from EMI will also be DRM-free. The higher-quality, DRM-free files became available worldwide on iTunes on 30 May 2007, and are expected to appear on other music download services as well in the near future.

Since then Universal Music Group has also announced sales of DRM-free music .

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

  Terra Firma takeover
After a dramatic 7% decline in the British market share, from 16% to 9% and the announcement that EMI had sustained a loss of £260 million in 2006/2007, EMI was acquired by Terra Firma Capital Partners in August 2007 which purchased it for £4.2 billion.

Following the transition, several important artists including Radiohead walked away from the label, while other artists such as Paul McCartney had seen the writing on the wall and left ahead of the takeover. At the same time, The Rolling Stones signed a one-album deal with Interscope Records/Universal Music Group outside of its contract with EMI, which expired on February 2008, and then in 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. In January 2011 Pink Floyd signed a new global agreement with EMI.

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

In 2008, EMI withdrew from the South-East Asian market entirely, forcing its large roster of acts to search out contracts with other unaffiliated labels. As a result, the South-East Asian market is now the only region in the world where EMI is no longer in operation, although the record label does continue to operate in Hong Kong and Indonesia . The Chinese and Taiwanese operation of EMI as well as the Hong Kong branch of Gold Label, was sold to Typhoon Group and reformed as Gold Typhoon. The Philippine branch of EMI changed its name to PolyEast Records, and is now a joint venture between EMI itself and Pied Piper Records Corporation. The physical audio and video products of the label have been distributed in South-East Asia by Warner Music since December 2008, while new EMI releases in China and Taiwan, were distributed under Gold Typhoon which was previously known as EMI Music China and EMI Music Taiwan, respectively. Meanwhile, the Korean branch of EMI had its physical releases distributed by Warner Music Korea. EMI Music Japan, the Japanese EMI branch, remains unchanged from the reflection of Toshiba's divestiture to the business by EMI buying the whole branch way back July 2007, making it a full subsidiary.

In July 2009, there were reports that EMI would not sell CDs to independent album retailers in a bid to cut costs, but in fact only a handful of small physical retailers were affected.

  Citigroup ownership
In February 2010, EMI Group reported pre-tax losses of £1.75 billion for the year ended March 2009, including write-downs on the value of its music catalogue.
In addition, KPMG issued a going concern warning on the holding company's accounts regarding an ability to remain solvent.

Citigroup (which held $4 billion in debt) took 100% ownership of EMI Group from Terra Firma on February 1, 2011, writing off £2.2 billion of debt and reducing EMI's debt load by 65%. The group was put up for sale and final bids were due by 5 October 2011.

  Sony/Universal sale
On 12 November 2011, it was announced that EMI has sold its recorded music operations to Universal Music Group for £1.2 billion ($1.9billion) and its music publishing operations to a Sony-led consortium for $2.2 billion. Among the other companies that had competed for the recorded music business was Warner Music Group which was reported to have made a $2 billion bid. However, IMPALA has said that it would fight the merger, and the merger has yet to be approved.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "EMI", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.