Eamonn Forde
November 2016.

What has been the most successful record label, and why?

1 answer

It feels like Columbia. Purely because it was so successful across so many decades. In the 1960s, they had Bob Dylan. In the 1970s, they had Bruce Springsteen. In this century, they have Adele in America. They not just dominated in the charts but also signed artists that have had longevity and that make a difference to the history of recorded music. Billie Holliday was on Columbia, for example. 

In terms of independent records labels, I would say Island Records. Island started off as a reggae and ska genre label, created a huge superstar in Bob Marley but then became a progressive and folk rock label that was matchless in talent with acts like Fairport Convention, John Martyn and Sandy Denny. Then they had Roxy Music and Sparks. Then they got U2 and after that Amy Winehouse. There isn't necessarily a clear aesthetic with Island or Columbia, but there are clear values. Maybe the values are consistent in those labels – i.e. they actually do value artistic quality as opposed to getting a few hits and making a few bucks. 

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