- Elektra Records
infobox record label
Warner Music Group
Jac Holzman Paul Rickholt
status = Defunct (2004)
genre = Various
Elektra Records is a now-dormant American
record labelowned by Warner Music Group(WMG) and, from 2004 on, operating under WMG's Atlantic Records Group. The label is still being used for reissues by WMG's Rhino Entertainmentunit.
Elektra was formed in 1950 by
Jac Holzmanand Paul Rickholt, who both invested $300. The usual spelling of the Greek mythological heroine Electrawas changed, with Holzman famously explaining, “I gave her the ‘K’ that I lacked.”
The first Elektra LP, “New Songs” (EKLP 1 released March 1950), was a collection of
Liederand similar 'art' songs which sold few copies. During the Fifties and early Sixties the label concentrated on folk musicrecordings, releasing a number of best-selling albums by Judy Collinsand protest singers such as Phil Ochsand Tom Paxton, but by the mid-Sixties it had branched out into pop, gaining considerable prestige on the music scene by being one of the first labels to sign up leading acts from the new wave of American psychedelic rockof 1966–67. The label’s most important signings were the Chicago-based Paul Butterfield Blues Band (with Mike Bloomfield), the Los Angeles bands Love and The Doors, and the Detroit bands The Stoogesand MC5. One of Elektra's most significant LA signings was Tim Buckley, father-to-be of Jeff Buckley.
Also in 1967, Elektra launched its influential Nonesuch Explorer Series, one of the first collections of what is now referred to as
world music. Excerpts from several Nonesuch Explorer recordings were later included on the two Voyager Golden Discs which were sent into deep space in 1977 aboard the Voyager 1and Voyager 2space probes.
The Asylum Records merger
Elektra was acquired by
Kinney National Companyin 1970, along with the Nonesuch Recordssubsidiary. Soon afterwards Kinney consolidated their label holdings under the Warner Communicationsumbrella. Holzman remained in charge of Elektra until 1972, when it merged with Asylum Recordsto become Elektra/Asylum Records, with Asylum's founder, David Geffen, now in charge. Holzman was appointed senior vice president and chief technologist for Warner and ushered the company into home video and the first interactive cable system. Holzman also went on to start Discovery Records. In 1975 Geffen stepped down due to health problems.
Although the company was technically listed as “Elektra/Asylum Records” on the label credits, as the years went on the company began to unofficially call itself "Elektra Records" again, with Asylum operating as a subsidiary label. In 1982 the label established
Elektra Musicianas a jazz subsidiary. Bob Krasnowbecame president and CEO of Elektra in 1983, and under his leadership the label continued to thrive.
Elektra Entertainment Group
In 1989, the company officially changed its name to "Elektra Entertainment". Krasnow was replaced by
Sylvia Rhone, who took over as CEO in 1994; the same year, the label became "Elektra Entertainment Group". During this time, Elektra developed a relationship with the UK-based label 4AD, becoming the North American distributor for 4AD acts such as the Pixies, The Breeders, Frank Blackand The Amps. This eventually led to Elektra's sister label, Warner Strategic Marketing, signing an exclusive American distribution deal for nearly all 4AD releases from 1992 to 1998.
Despite having a large stable of noted acts, as the 1990s drew to a close, Elektra began to see a slump in revenue, while noticeably underperforming on the charts. It also developed a bit of a sullen reputation in the industry for not properly promoting many of its releases, thus earning the nickname "Neglectra" by many of its acts, and was easily lagging behind its sister labels,
Warner Bros. Recordsand Atlantic Records.
In February 2004,
Warner Music Groupwas sold by Time Warnerto a group of private investors made up of Thomas Lee Partners, Bain & Company, and Edgar Bronfman, Jr.(who assumed CEO duties).
Looking for ways to save money, the new owners of WMG decided to merge Elektra and Atlantic Records. Because it was the lesser performing label of the two, 40% of Elektra's operations were put into the new venture, while a commanding 60% of Atlantic's went in. Subsequently, the new company was called "
Atlantic Records Group" with Elektra breaking off into a subsidiary.
The current status of Elektra, and whether or not it will continue to operate, is somewhat uncertain. Although WMG has not made any official announcement that Elektra has been dismantled, and keeps its name and logo highlighted as a seemingly active imprint on press statements, Elektra's name has not been on a noted release since the merger with Atlantic Records. In the time since, many of its acts have had their material released through Atlantic instead.
Elektra's catalog continues to be released/reissued by
Rhino Records, which released a 5-CD box set various-artists compilation titled "Forever Changing: the Golden Age of Elektra Records 1963-1973" in November, 2006.
* Elektra Records artists
List of record labels
Elektra Records discography
* [http://www.bsnpubs.com/elektra/elektrastory.html The Elektra Story from BSN Pubs]
* [http://www.atsf.co.uk/elektra/ Elektra discography to 1973]
* [http://www.elektrarecords.com/ Elektra website] (redirected to
Atlantic Records[http://www.atlanticrecords.com Web site] )
* A full history of Elektra's Holzman years can be found in Jac Holzman's book "Follow the Music: The Life and High Times of Elektra Records in the Great Years of American Pop Culture". First Media Books (1998). ISBN 0966122119.
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