June 30, 2019 Taylor Swift's former label, Big Machine, is sold to Scooter Braun's company for an estimated $300 million, giving him control of her back catalog, including the master recordings. In response, Swift accuses Braun of bullying her and says she will re-record all her old albums to devalue his purchase.More
October 10, 2007 Radiohead takes an innovative approach with the release of their seventh studio album, In Rainbows, by offering it as a pay-what-you-want download. Most people pay nothing for the download, but the album still fares well - better, in fact, than the previous Hail to the Thief album - through pre-sales for "discbox" editions.More
November 13, 2006 After failing in their attempt at a video streaming service, Google buys YouTube, growing it into the second-most-popular website worldwide (after google.com).
September 27, 1995 With gangsta rap drawing negative publicity, Time Warner sells their share of Interscope Records to the founders, Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field. The next release is Dogg Food by Tha Dogg Pound, which goes to #1 in America.
November 30, 1991 Billboard changes its methodology for determining the Hot 100, using SoundScan data to track record store sales and BDS information for radio plays. SoundScan, an electronic system that counts record sales when they are rung up, replaces record store reporting, which was typically done with phone calls. BDS is a Shazam-like service that identifies songs played by radio stations, which eliminates the need for stations to report their playlists. The first #1 on the revamped chart is "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" by P.M. Dawn.
November 18, 1987 Sony reaches an agreement to buy CBS Records, which includes Columbia, Portrait and Epic, for $2 billion. Artists on these labels include Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen (putting Born In The U.S.A. in the hands of a Japanese company).
August 14, 1985 Three years after their duet "The Girl Is Mine," Paul McCartney advises Michael Jackson to invest in publishing. Jackson makes a winning bid of $47.5 million for the rights to over 250 Lennon-McCartney Beatles songs owned by ATV publishing, which turns out to be a great investment, but kills their friendship.More
May 23, 1979 Responding to a wave of lawsuits after refusing to transfer his contract to MCA Records, Tom Petty files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a bold move that halts the legal proceedings and forces MCA to negotiate.More
March 14, 1964 Billboard magazine reports that Beatles records make up 60% of all singles sold.
February 3, 1960 Frank Sinatra launches the first fully artist-owned label, Reprise Records (pronounced "repreeze"), so he can own his own masters. Some of his cohorts, including Dean Martin and Rosemary Clooney, join the label, which is sold to Warner Brothers in 1963, where it becomes home to a number of famous acts, including Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell and Green Day.
November 26, 2008 Atlantic Records becomes the first major label whose digital sales have surpassed its CD sales. Downloads of music and ringtones now account for more than half of Atlantic's US sales.
March 1, 2004 Warner Music Group leaves parent company Time Warner for the first time, bought out as a separate entity by investors led by former Universal Music head Edgar Bronfman Jr.
February 4, 1999 In a daring move, Rykodisc becomes the first music label to give its stamp of approval to MP3, the controversial Internet-based music distribution format that struck fear into the hearts of many music industry executives.
October 22, 1997 In Italy, the Big 5 record labels - BMG, EMI, PolyGram, Sony and Warner Music - are found guilty of establishing a price-fixing cartel and fined the equivalent of $4.5 million.
November 8, 1995 Sony gets control of the publishing rights to many Beatles songs when Michael Jackson merges his ATV Music Publishing with Sony Music Publishing in a deal estimated at $600 million. Jackson purchased the Beatles catalog in 1985 for $47.5 million.
March 4, 1989 Time Inc. and Warner Communications merge into Time Warner, creating the world's largest media company.
August 13, 1982 In response to plummeting record sales (which the industry blames on the sale of blank cassette tapes), major labels CBS, Atlantic, and Warner Brothers announce a series of major staff cuts.
November 27, 1981 Before file sharing, there was the dual-cassette recorder. In an effort to stop people from making copies of tapes, ads run in the British press saying, "Home taping is wiping out music."
September 22, 1980 Geffen Records is formed.
March 8, 1979 Rolling Stone reports that inflation has ballooned the cost of making and promoting a major label LP to between $350,000 and $500,000.
February 15, 1979 RCA Records starts handling distribution for A&M Records, which was the largest independent record company before the deal.
April 7, 1971 The Rolling Stones announce their own record label, Rolling Stones Records, which they vow to make a "small operation we can handle" so as not to suffer the pitfalls of The Beatles' Apple Records.
February 14, 1970 Billboard Magazine reports that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is "Mounting Total War Against Tape Pirating of Prerecorded Music."
April 16, 1969 Elektra Records drop the MC5 from their roster after the group takes out an ad in an underground newspaper castigating the department store chain Hudson's for not stocking their debut album, Kick Out The Jams. Hudson's didn't want it on their shelves because of a line in the title track: "Kick out the jams, motherf--ker!"More
January 5, 1963 Leonard Chess, co-founder of Chess records, tells Billboard magazine, "As it stands today, there's virtually no difference between rock and roll, pop and rhythm and blues. The music has completely overlapped."
January 1, 1962 The Beatles and The Tremeloes both audition for Decca Records, with The Beatles performing 15 songs at the label's studio in London. Decca signs The Tremeloes but passes on The Beatles, reasoning that "guitar groups are on the way out."
May 16, 1960 Billboard magazine reports that Detroit music mogul Berry Gordy is thinking of starting three new record labels, including one called Motown.
January 2, 1950 Sam Phillips opens the Memphis Recording Service, which he later renames Sun Studio. Among the artists to record there is Elvis Presley, who gets his start recording with Phillips.
February 13, 1914 ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, is formed in New York City.
February 9, 2022 Snoop Dogg buys Death Row Records, the label he started with. He plans to take the label into the metaverse and issue non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
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