The Electric and Musical Industries Ltd formed in March 1931 from a merger of the UK Columbia Graphophone Company and the Gramophone Company. In 1957, to replace the loss of its long-established licensing arrangements with RCA Victor and Columbia Records, EMI entered the American market by acquiring 96% of the stock of Capitol Records.
The company established subsidiary operations in a number of other countries in the British Commonwealth, including India, Australia and New Zealand. EMI's Australian and New Zealand subsidiaries dominated the popular music industry in those countries from the 1920s until the 1960s, when other locally-owned labels (such as Festival Records) began to challenge EMI's market near monopoly in those regions.
Under the management of Sir Joseph Lockwood, during the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s the company enjoyed huge success in the popular music field. The groups and solo artists signed to EMI and its subsidiary labels -- including Parlophone, HMV and Columbia Records (Australia) and Capitol Records -- made EMI the best-known and most successful recording company in the world at that time, with a roster that included scores of major pop acts of the period including The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Hollies, Cilla Black and Pink Floyd.
In 1969, EMI established a new subsidiary label, Harvest Records, which signed groups in the emerging progressive rock genre, including Pink Floyd.
Electric & Musical Industries changed its name to EMI Ltd in 1971 and the subsidiary Gramophone Company became EMI Records Ltd in 1973. In 1972, EMI replaced the Columbia and HMV pop music labels with the EMI record label. In February 1979, EMI Ltd. acquired United Artists Records.
In October 1979 THORN Electrical Industries Ltd. merged with EMI Ltd. to form Thorn EMI. In 1989 Thorn EMI bought a 50% interest in Chrysalis Records, buying the outstanding 50% in 1991. In one of its highest-profile and most expensive acquisitions, Thorn EMI took over Richard Branson's Virgin Records in 1992.
On August 16, 1996, Thorn EMI shareholders voted in favour of demerger proposals. The resulting media company has since been known by the name EMI Group PLC.
Under the control of Sir Louis Sterling, EMI opened the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London, England in November 1931. EMI was also an electronic manufacturing company that was very involved in the development of television broadcasting in the UK.
On December 15, 2005, Apple Records, the record label representing The Beatles, launched a suit against EMI for non-payment of royalties. The suit alleges that EMI have withheld $50 million from the record label. An EMI spokesman noted that audits of record label accounts are not unusual, confirming at least two hundred such audits have been performed, but that they rarely result in legal action.
EMI and Warner Music Group
On May 3, 2006, EMI entered preliminary talks to buy Warner Music Group, which is currently owned privately by a group of investors.  This move would reduce the world's four largest record companies (Big Four) to three; however, according to Warner's site, its board has rejected the proposal. . Then Warner Music Group turned the tables and offered to buy EMI. EMI rejected the offer. Representitives from both sides are still having meetings and deciding if one company will buy the other.
Labels under the EMI banner
Musicians signed, or previously signed, to EMI
The musicians may have been signed under one of EMI's subsidiary labels. The subsidiary is noted next to the artist if this is the case.
Metal bands on EMI during the 1980s included:
The Sex Pistols were briefly signed to the label from October 8, 1976 to January 27, 1977 in a relationship that was fraught with controversy, and that had lasting repercussions for the history of the music industry. In a gesture of retaliation, the Sex Pistols added to their first album (released on Virgin Records), Never Mind the Bollocks, a song entitled "EMI" insulting the company. Virgin was acquired by EMI in 1992, so ironically the company now profits from sales of that song.
In 2001, pop diva Mariah Carey was signed to Virgin in a much hyped, multi-album deal reportedly worth a record-breaking $80-$100 million. After her first album in the deal, Glitter, performed poorly, she was reportedly paid $28 million to leave the label. Along with the estimated $20 million advance she received, this is the highest amount a record label has ever paid an artist for a single album.
Pop star Robbie Williams signed a 4 album deal paying him over 80 million pounds.
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