A&M Records

A&M Records

infobox record label

parent = Universal Music Group
founded = 1962
founder = Herb Alpert
Jerry Moss
distributor = Interscope-Geffen-A&M (US)
Polydor Records (UK)
genre = Various
location = Santa Monica, California
country = US
url = [http://www.interscope.com/ Intercope Geffen A&M site] & [http://www.amoctone.com/ A&M/Octone site]

A&M Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group which operates through the Interscope-Geffen-A&M division. As of 2007, it engages in a new co-venture with Octone Records under the A&M/Octone Records label.

Company history


A&M Records was formed in 1962 by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. Their first choice for a name was “Carnival Records,” under which they released two singles before discovering another label had taken the "Carnival" name first. The company was subsequently renamed "A&M", after Alpert's and Moss's initials. From 1966 to 1999, the company's headquarters were on the grounds of the historic Charlie Chaplin Studio at 1416 N. La Brea Avenue, near Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. (The A&M Studios and executive offices are now the home of Jim Henson Productions, which operates Henson Recording Studios [http://www.hensonrecording.com/] and the financial center is home to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.)

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, A&M was among the leading purveyors of ‘light’ pop music, with such acts as: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Baja Marimba Band, Burt Bacharach, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, We Five, Carpenters, Chris Montez, Captain and Tennille, Quincy Jones, and Paul Williams; folk legends Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Gene Clark, were with the label during the 1970s. However, the label also found success in R&B and funk thanks to piano great Billy Preston who joined the label in 1971. The Carpenters, however, remain the label's most successful act of the 1970s with upwards of 100 million albums sold worldwide.

In the late 1960s, A&M added British artists through direct signing and licensing agreements. These artists include Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Fairport Convention, Free, The Move and Spooky Tooth. In the 1970s, under its manufacturing and distribution agreement with Ode Records, A&M released albums by Carole King and the comedy duo Cheech and Chong. Other notable acts of the time included: Nazareth, Y&T, The Tubes, Styx, Supertramp, Rick Wakeman, Squeeze and Peter Frampton.

A&M releases were initially issued in the United Kingdom by EMI's Stateside Records label, and then under its own name by Pye Records until 1967. A&M Records, Ltd. [cite web|date=2007|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/Britain_History.html|title=A&M Records Ltd. |publisher=On A&M Records.com.] was established in 1970, with distribution handled by other labels with a presence in Europe. A&M Records of Canada, Ltd. [cite web|date=2003|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/Canada_History.html|title=A&M Records Canada|publisher=On A&M Records.com.] was also formed in 1970, and A&M Records of Europe in 1977.

When A&M started their own UK label, their first two UK signings were Strawbs and Supertramp. Strangely, US A&M did not release the first two Strawbs LP's or the first Supertramp at the time, which in retrospect seems like an odd decision.

During the height of their 'light' period, A&M had very little luck with the British acts they signed. Through a deal with Straight Ahead Productions, A&M got Tyrannasaurus Rex (later known as T.Rex), The Move and Joe Cocker, yet after two singles, A&M didn't release anything further from T-Rex until they became popular on Reprise years later. Similarly, A&M was not able to break The Move in the US despite their huge success in England and Europe. A&M also let Los Angeles artists Leon Russell and Capt. Beefheart and his Magic Band (Captain Beefheart) slip through their fingers after issuing a couple of singles.

In the late 1970s, A&M recognized the potential in the burgeoning English punk movement and on March 10 1977 signed the Sex Pistols after the band had been dropped by EMI. However, A&M themselves sacked the band within a week. [cite book | last = Southall | first = Brian | title = 90 Days At EMI | year = 2007 | publisher = Bobcat Books Ltd., London | pages = pp. 138-9 | id = ISBN 1-84609-779-9]

Within a decade of its inception, A&M became the world's largest independent record company. In 1979, A&M entered a distribution agreement with RCA Records (which later became BMG) in the US, and with CBS Records in many other countries.

A&M's success sustained during the 1980s with noted acts that included: Falco, Janet Jackson, Atlantic Starr, The Police, Suzanne Vega, Oingo Boingo, Annabel Lamb, Bryan Adams, Joe Jackson and Scottish rock band Gun, who went on to win an MTV award for their cover of the Cameo song 'Word up' in 1994. [cite web|date=2003|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/History_3.html|title=A&M Records History 1980-1989|publisher=On A&M Records.com.]

Over the years, A&M added specialty imprints: Almo International [cite web|date=2003|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/Almo_International.html|title=Almo International|publisher=On A&M Records.com.] for middle of the road; Omen Records (1964–1966) [cite web|date=2007|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/Omen_Records.html|title=Omen Records |publisher=On A&M Records.com.] for soul; Horizon Records [cite web|date=2003|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/Horizon_Records.html|title=Horizon Records History|publisher=On A&M Records.com.] for jazz (1974–1978); AyM Discos [cite web|date=2003|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/AyM_Discos.html|title=AyM Discos History|publisher=On A&M Records.com.] Latin American division; Vendetta Records [cite web|date=2007|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/Vendetta_Records.html|title=Vendetta Records|publisher=On A&M Records.com. (1988–1990) as a dance imprint. ] Tuff Break Records [cite web|date=2007|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/Tuff_Break.html|title=Tuff Break |publisher=On A&M Records.com.for hip hop music (1994-1995) ] was another joint venture.

The PolyGram years

A&M was bought by PolyGram in 1989 for a reported $500 million. Alpert and Moss continued to manage the label until 1993, when they felt PolyGram was increasing its pressure on A&M to fit their corporate structure. The sale to PolyGram stipulated that Alpert and Moss had an integrity clause allowing them to control the label's image through 2009. In 1998, Alpert and Moss sued PolyGram for breach of the integrity clause.

In 1991, A&M launched Perspective Records [cite web|date=2006|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/Perspective_Records.html|title=Perspective Records|publisher=On A&M Records.com.] through a joint venture with producing team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Jam and Lewis stepped down as CEO's of the imprint in 1997, but remained on as consultants. In 1999, the label was absorbed into A&M. In the mid-1990s, A&M began distributing its PolyGram sister label Polydor Records in the US, an association that continues to this day.

A&M was a leader in innovative music marketing and licensing, and was the first label to license its music for use in videogames with Soundgarden, and Therapy?, appearing in Electronic Arts, "Road Rash 3DO" videogame in 1994 [cite web|date=2003|url=http://www.onamrecords.com/History_4.html|title=A&M Records History 1990-2000|publisher=On A&M Records.com.]

During the 1990s, the company continued to release critically and commercially acclaimed albums by: Soundgarden, Extreme, Amy Grant, John Hiatt, Sting, Blues Traveler, Barry White, and Aaron Neville—as well as from new artists Sheryl Crow, Therapy?, CeCe Peniston, and the Gin Blossoms. The company extended its soundtrack legacy with, "", "The Three Musketeers", "Sabrina", "The Living Sea", "Demolition Man", "Lethal Weapon 3", as well as indie classic "Empire Records."

A&M under Universal Music Group

In 1998, PolyGram was bought by Seagrams and merged into its Universal Music Group. The consolidation of these two music giants triggered a shake up of labels. A&M was subsequently merged into Universal Music Group's then newly formed Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.

The A&M lot on La Brea Avenue was shut down in January 1999 (it is now operating as Henson Recording Studios.) During the farewell celebration, the company's staff placed a black band over the A&M sign above the main entrance, indicating the death of the company. Most of the company's workforce (some of whom had been with the company for a decade, or more) were let go, while many of its artists were dropped. "This isn't about Universal or Seagram," said then-chairman and CEO Al Cafaro. "The record business is changing fundamentally. Don't think that there are calm seas on the other side of this threshold. If the quake that devoured A & M and Geffen is a 6.0 on the Richter scale, there is a 7.0 coming in this industry. It's a Wall Street world now. Get ready." [Black Thursday: A&M Shuts Its Doors] Alpert and Moss sued Universal Music Group in 2000; claiming that they had violated a contractual agreement that stated A&M Records would be allowed to retain its corporate culture. The suit was later settled.

The first multi-platinum A&M Records release under Universal Music Group and Interscope was Sting's 1999 album "Brand New Day". In addition to Sting, in the time since A&M's restructuring, the company has continued to attain success with releases by its few retained mainstay acts, such as Chris Cornell, Sheryl Crow and Bryan Adams—as well as by newer acts like the Black Eyed Peas, Keyshia Cole, Pussycat Dolls and Duffy.

A&M Records (UK)

Reactivated as a frontline label by Polydor Records in October 2006. Since then, their biggest international success has been with rising artist Duffy who has gone on to contract international deals within the Universal Music Group under the newly reactivated Mercury Records of Island Def Jam Music Group.


In February 2007, Interscope-Geffen-A&M was looking to revamp the A&M imprint and did so by partnered with Octone Records, which was previously distributed by Sony BMG whom also held an artist co-development venture with the company. Universal Music Group acquired Sony BMG's interest in Octone Records, therefore terminating the affiliation with Sony BMG.

The new label was created, headed by James Diener of Octone Records, and was named "A&M/Octone Records" with distribution handled by Interscope-Geffen-A&M and internationally through the Universal Music Group.

A&M's artist roster in the US continues to be marketed under the A&M imprint within Interscope-Geffen-A&M, however all new artist signings are made to the new label, A&M/Octone.


Affiliated labels

Former labels

* ANTRA Records (1998)
* CTI Records (1967-1970)
* Cypress Records (1988–1990)
* Dark Horse Records (1974–1976)
* Delos International (1988-1990)
* Denon (1988-1992)
* DV8 Records (1995-1998)
* Flip (1996-1998)
* Gold Mountain Ltd. (1983–1985)
* Heavyweight Records (1998)
* I.R.S. Records (1979–1985)
* Nimbus Records (1987-1990)
* Ode Records (1970-1975)
* Shelter Records (In Great Britain, early 1970s)
* Tabu Records (1991-1993)
* Tuff Break Records (1993-1995)
* TwinTone (1987-1989)
* T.W.Is.M (1996-1998)
* Windham Hill Records (and its subsidiary labels) (1982–1985)
* Word Records (and its subsidiary labels: Exit, Myrrh, Live Oak) (1985–1990)
* 1500 (1998)

Label histories for most of these companies are available at [http://www.onamrecords.com/ On A&M Records] .

Current labels

* A&M Records, an imprint of Interscope-Geffen-A&M
* A&M/Octone Records
* A&M Records (UK), reactivated as a frontline label by Polydor Records.
* Tropical Records
* will.i.am music group


* [http://www.onamrecords.com/ A&M Records]
* [http://www.amcorner.com/features/feature_view.php?fetchtopic=25 Black Thursday: A&M Shuts Its Doors]

ee also

* A&M/Octone Records
* A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc.
* List of record labels

External links

* [http://www.amoctone.com/ Official website]
* [http://www.interscope.com/ Interscope Records official website] - A&M Records is included within the Interscope site and is part of Interscope Geffen A&M
* [http://www.onamrecords.com/ On A&M Records] --Search every artist and recording by A&M Records and its affiliated labels.
* [http://www.amcorner.com/ A&M Corner] - Since 1995 the internet's original A&M Records free collector/listener resource
* [http://www.myspace.com/universalmusicgroup MySpace A&M Records] - Find A&M Records on Universal Music Group MySpace
* [http://www.myspace.com/aandmrecordsuk A&M Records (UK)] - A&M Records (UK) of Polydor Records

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