Tuesday, February 19, 2008

RECORD WEEK Part 2: Columbia

Columbia Records started out as a record distributor for Edison cylinders. They worked in the Maryland-D.D. and Delaware area hence the name. In 1893 they went solo dropping the Edison connection. They began selling platter records alongside the Edison-type cylinders in 1901 competing fiercely with their former partner.As a brand name it was being used as early as 1888. But by 1908 they were driving the industry with their new emphasis on double-sided records. A format we currently take as an assumption. in 1939 they were the first to debut album art. For decades they aggressively purchased competing labels maintaining a centuries long dominance on radio programming and culture. It's hard to overstate the significance of Columbia records. Being one of the first labels it was their successes that spelled out the how-to instructions to both their competitors and labels that were yet to exist. they fell behind somewhat in the 1950s where they spurned rock n' roll needlessly for a couple decades but eventually they caught on and used their expertise to again dominate the industry. CEOs like Bill Paley, Clive Davis, Ed Wallerstien and others were the mold for what a label head should be: pushy, domineering, but with an ear for what worked on radio.