RCA Records

RCA Records
Parent company
Founded June 23, 1901 (1901-06-23)
Genre Various
Country of origin United States
Location New York City
Official website

RCA Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment (SME). It is one of SME's flagship record labels alongside sister labels Columbia Records and Epic Records. The label has released multiple genres of music, including pop, rock, hip hop, R&B, blues, jazz, and country. The company's name is derived from the initials of the label's former parent company, Radio Corporation of America[1] (RCA). It is the second oldest recording company in U.S. history, after sister label Columbia Records. RCA's Canadian unit (formerly Berliner Gramophone Canada) is Sony's oldest label in Canada. It was one of only two Canadian record companies to survive the Great Depression.


For the company's history before 1929, see Victor Talking Machine Company.
Classic RCA logo, first retired in 1968; revived in 1987 until 2015. Still used by RCA in the UK.

In 1929, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company, then the world's largest manufacturer of phonographs (including the famous "Victrola") and phonograph records (in British English, "gramophone records"). The company then became RCA Victor. With Victor, RCA acquired New World rights to the famous Nipper "His Master's Voice" trademark; in Shanghai, China, RCA Victor was the main competitor with Baak Doi.[2]

In 1931, RCA Victor's British affiliate the Gramophone Company merged with the Columbia Graphophone Company to form EMI. This gave RCA head David Sarnoff a seat on the EMI board.[3]

In September 1931, RCA Victor introduced the first 33⅓ rpm records sold to the public, calling them "Program Transcriptions". These used a shallower and more closely spaced implementation of the large "standard groove" found on contemporary 78 rpm records, rather than the "microgroove" used for post-World War II 33⅓ rpm "LP" (long play) records. In the depths of the Great Depression, the format was a commercial failure, partly because the new playback equipment they required was expensive. After two or three years the format was abandoned and two-speed turntables were no longer offered in consumer products, but some Program Transcriptions lingered in the company's record catalog throughout the decade.[4]

During the early part of the depression, RCA made a number of attempts to produce a successful cheap label to compete with the "dime store labels" (Perfect, Oriole, Banner, Melotone, etc.). In 1932, Bluebird Records was created as a sub-label of RCA Victor. It was originally an 8-inch record with a dark blue label, alongside an 8-inch Electradisk label (sold at Woolworth's). Neither were a success. In 1933, RCA reintroduced Bluebird and Electradisk as a standard 10-inch label (Bluebird's label was redesigned as it became known as the 'buff' label). Another cheap label, Sunrise, was produced (although nobody seems to know for whom it was produced, as Sunrise records are exceptionally rare today). The same musical couplings were issued on all three labels and Bluebird Records still survives eight decades after Electradisk and Sunrise were discontinued. RCA also produced records for Montgomery Ward during the 1930s.

Besides manufacturing records for themselves, RCA Victor operated RCA Custom which was the leading record manufacturer for independent record labels.[5] RCA Custom also pressed record compilations for The Reader's Digest Association.

RCA sold its interest in EMI in 1935, but EMI continued to distribute RCA recordings in the UK and its territories on the HMV label. RCA also manufactured and distributed HMV classical recordings on the RCA and HMV labels in North America.[6]

World War II era

During World War II, ties between RCA and its Japanese affiliate JVC were severed. The Japanese record company is today called Victor Entertainment and is still a JVC subsidiary.

From 1942 to 1944, RCA Victor was seriously impacted by the American Federation of Musicians recording ban. Virtually all union musicians could not make recordings during that period. One of the few exceptions was the eventual release of recorded radio broadcast performances by the NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini. However, RCA lost the Philadelphia Orchestra during this period; when Columbia Records settled quickly with the union, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphians signed a new contract with Columbia and began making recordings in 1944.

The post-war 1940s

In 1949, RCA Victor introduced the 7-inch 45 rpm micro-grooved vinylite record, marketed simply as a "45". The new format, which had been under development for several years,[7] was RCA Victor's belatedly unveiled alternative to the 12-inch and 10-inch 33⅓ rpm microgroove vinyl "LP" (Long Play) discs introduced by arch-rival CBS/Columbia in 1948. In heavy promotion, RCA sold compact, inexpensive add-on and stand-alone units that played the 45 rpm format exclusively. At first, RCA Victor's 45s were issued on colored vinyl according to the musical genre: ordinary pop music on black vinyl (47-XXXX series), prestigious Broadway musicals and operettas on "midnight blue" vinyl (52-xxxx series), classical music on red vinyl (49-xxxx series), country and polka on green (48-xxxx series), children's fare on yellow (also in the 47-xxxx series), rhythm and blues on orange or cerise (50-xxxx series), and international on light blue (51-xxxx series). This array of colors complicated the production process and the practice was soon discontinued, all records became black. Yellow and red held on until about 1952. The first 45 rpm record pressed was "PeeWee the Piccolo" RCA 47-0147 pressed Dec. 7, 1948 at the Sherman Avenue plant Indianapolis, R.O. Price, plant manager.[8] The use of vinyl, which was much more expensive than the gritty shellac compound normally used for 78s, was made economically practical by the smaller diameter and greatly reduced bulk of the new discs, which required very little raw material.[9]

The 45 was marketed as a direct replacement for 10-inch and 12-inch 78 rpm records, which typically played for about three and four minutes per side respectively. RCA also released some "extended play" (EP) 45s with playing times up to 7 minutes per side, primarily for light classical selections, as typified by an Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra disc featuring Tchaikovsky's Marche Slave and Ketèlbey's In a Persian Market. Boxed sets of four to six 45s were issued, each set providing about the same amount of music as one LP. (An extreme case of these boxed sets was the opera Carmen, consisting of sixteen 45 rpm discs.) In the case of symphonies and other longer classical music, there had to be an interruption every few minutes as one disc side ended and another was started up. These disruptive "side breaks", a nuisance familiar to classical listeners from similar sets of 78 rpm records, were minimized by an extremely fast automatic record-changing mechanism that was a core feature of RCA Victor's 45 players. The 45 became the standard format for pop music singles, overtaking U.S. sales of the same material on 78s by 1954, but the LP prevailed as the standard format for classical music and convenient one-disc "album" collections of eight or more pop songs.

The 1950s

Label of an RCA Victor 78 rpm record from the 1950s; RCA manufactured 78s alongside the 45 until 1958.
Label of an RCA Victor 45 rpm record from the 1950s; RCA used this label for its 45 rpm records from 1954 to at least 1964.

In 1950, realizing that Columbia's LP format had become successful and concerned that RCA was losing market share, RCA Victor began issuing LPs itself.[10][11] Among the first RCA LPs released was a performance of Gaîté Parisienne by Jacques Offenbach, played by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra, which had actually been recorded in Boston's Symphony Hall on June 20, 1947; it was given the catalogue number LM-1001. Non-classical albums were issued with the prefix "LPM". When RCA Victor later issued classical stereo albums (in 1958), they used the prefix "LSC". Non-classical stereo albums were issued with the prefix "LSP". RCA utilized these catalog prefixes until 1973.

In the 1950s, RCA had three subsidiary or specialty labels: Groove, Vik and "X". Label "X" was founded in 1953 and renamed Vik in 1955. Groove was an R&B specialty label founded in 1954.[12]

Through the 1940s and 1950s, RCA was in competition with Columbia Records. A number of recordings were made with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arturo Toscanini; sometimes RCA utilized recordings of broadcast concerts (Toscanini had been recording for the label since the days of acoustic recordings, and RCA Victor had been recording the NBC Symphony since its creation in 1937). When the NBC Symphony was reorganized in the fall of 1954 as the Symphony of the Air, it continued to record for RCA, as well as other labels, usually with Leopold Stokowski. RCA also released a number of recordings with the Victor Symphony Orchestra, later renamed the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, which was usually drawn from either Philadelphia or New York musicians, as well as members of the Symphony of the Air. By the late 1950s RCA had fewer high prestige orchestras under contract than Columbia had: RCA recorded the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Pops, whereas Columbia had the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

On October 6, 1953, RCA held experimental stereophonic sessions in New York's Manhattan Center with Leopold Stokowski conducting a group of New York musicians in performances of George Enescu's Roumanian Rhapsody No. 1 and the waltz from Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin. There were additional stereo tests in December, again in the Manhattan Center, this time with Pierre Monteux conducting members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In February 1954, RCA made its first commercial stereophonic recordings, taping the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Münch, in a performance of The Damnation of Faust by Hector Berlioz. This began a practice of simultaneously recording orchestras with both stereophonic and monaural equipment. Other early stereo recordings were made by Toscanini and Guido Cantelli respectively, with the NBC Symphony Orchestra; the Boston Pops Orchestra under Arthur Fiedler; and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner. Initially, RCA used RT-21 quarter-inch tape recorders (which ran at 30 inches per second), wired to mono mixers, with Neumann U-47 cardioid and M-49/50 omnidirectional microphones. Then they switched to an Ampex 300-3 one-half inch machine, running at 15 inches per second (which was later increased to 30 inches per second). These recordings were initially issued in 1955 on special stereophonic reel-to-reel tapes and then, beginning in 1958, on vinyl LPs with the logo "Living Stereo." Sony Music and successor companies have continued to reissue these recordings on CD.[13] Another 1953 project for RCA was converting the acoustically superior building Webster Hall into its East Coast recording studio. It operated this studio venue from 1953 to 1968.

In September 1954, RCA introduced "Gruve-Gard" where the center and edge of a disc are thicker than the playing area, reducing scuff marks during handling and when used on a turntable with a record changer.[14] Most of RCA Victor Records' competitors quickly adopted the raised label and edges.

In 1955, RCA purchased the recording contract of Elvis Presley from Sun Records for the then astronomical sum of $35,000. Presley would become RCA's biggest selling recording artist. His first gold record was "Heartbreak Hotel", recorded in January 1956.

In 1957, RCA ended its 55-year association with EMI and signed a distribution deal with Decca Records, which caused EMI to purchase Capitol Records. Capitol then became the main distributor for EMI recordings in North and South America, with RCA distributing its recordings through Decca in the United Kingdom on the RCA label. This had the lightning bolt logo instead of the His Master's Voice Nipper logo (now owned by HMV in the UK as EMI transferred trademark ownership in 2003).[15] RCA set up its own British distribution in 1969.[16]

Also in 1957, RCA opened a state-of-the-art recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee, which recorded hit after hit for RCA and other labels for 20 years and is now open for tours as RCA Studio B. Elvis Presley made most of his recordings in this studio.

RCA Victor issued several spoken word albums in the 1950s and 60s, notably the soundtracks of the films Richard III,[17] A Man for All Seasons and The Taming of the Shrew,[18] as well as complete versions of the National Theatre of Great Britain stage productions of Othello (starring Laurence Olivier) and Much Ado About Nothing (starring Maggie Smith, who also played Desdemona in the Olivier Othello). None of these albums have appeared on compact disc, but the films of Richard III, A Man For All Seasons, The Taming of the Shrew and the filmed version of Olivier's Othello have all been issued on DVD.

The 1960s

RCA used this label for its American 45 rpm records during the Dynagroove era from 1965 to 1968.
RCA's LP label during the Dynagroove era was also used for 45 rpm records of the mid-to-late 1960s in countries such as Argentina, where this single was pressed.

In 1960, RCA announced the Compact 33 double and singles. In January 1961, these discs hit the market. The Compact 33 discs were released simultaneously with their 45 rpm counterparts. The long-term goal was to phase out the 45 rpm, but by early 1962 the campaign had failed.[19]

In 1963, RCA introduced Dynagroove which added computer technology to the disc cutting process, ostensibly to improve sound reproduction. Whether it was actually an improvement or not is still debated among audiophiles.

In September 1965, RCA and Lear Jet Corp. teamed up to release the first stereo 8-track tape music Cartridges (Stereo 8) which were first used in the 1966 line of Ford automobiles and were popular throughout the late 1960s and 1970s. (The initial release comprised 175 titles from RCA Victor and RCA Camden's catalog of artists.)

In late 1968, RCA modernized its image with a new futuristic-looking logo (the letters RCA in block modernized form), replacing the old lightning bolt logo, and the virtual retirement of both the Victor and Nipper trademarks. The color of the labels, which had always been black for its regular series (as opposed to its Red Seal line), switched to a bright orange or yellow (becoming tan later in the 1970s). In late 1976, RCA Records reinstated Nipper to most of its record labels (as well as returning to the traditional black label color for popular releases) in countries where RCA had the rights to the Nipper trademark.

In late 1969, RCA introduced a very thin, lightweight vinyl LP known as Dynaflex. This type of pressing claimed to overcome warping and other problems in conventional thicker pressings, but it had a controversial reputation in the industry and was abandoned in 1980.[20]

The 1970s

Platinum record of album Nilsson Schmilsson, featuring the 1968-75 Orange RCA Victor label.

In April 1970 RCA announced the first quadraphonic 4-channel 8-track tape cartridges ("Quad-8", later called just Q8). RCA then began releasing quadraphonic vinyl recordings in the United States in February 1973, in the CD-4 format developed by Japan Victor Corporation (JVC), and made commercially practical by Quadracast Systems Inc. (QSI). RCA's trade name became "Quadradisc". The CD-4 format required a special cartridge that had a ±1 db frequency response out to 50 kHz, a CD-4 demodulator which decoded the difference between the front and rear channels from a 30 kHz subcarrier, four separate amplifier channels, and four separate speakers for the left and right front and left and right rear. Both the CD-4 Quadradisc and Quad-8 tape cartridge systems were true discrete 4-4-4 quadraphonic systems. Columbia introduced a quadraphonic matrix system, SQ, which required a decoder, 4-channel amplifier and the four speakers. The SQ system was referred to as a 4-2-4 matrix system. The Warner Music Group labels also adopted the Quadradisc format, but RCA and Columbia abandoned quadraphonic recording within a few years; some of the RCA sessions were later remastered for Dolby encoding (same as Peter Scheiber's original matrix system) and released on CD. This included Charles Gerhardt's series of albums devoted to classic film scores by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, Dimitri Tiomkin, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, and others, performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra in London's Kingsway Hall.

The 1980s

In 1983, Arista Records owner Bertelsmann sold 50% of Arista to RCA. In 1985, Bertelsmann and RCA formed a joint venture called RCA/Ariola International.[21] The following year, RCA Corporation was acquired by General Electric and it sold its 50% interest in the label to its partner Bertelsmann. The company was renamed BMG Music for Bertelsmann Music Group.[22] BMG brought back the RCA "lightning bolt" logo that was last used in 1968 to make clear that RCA Records was no longer co-owned with the other RCA entities which GE sold or closed. The only RCA unit GE kept was NBC. BMG also revived the "RCA Victor" label for musical genres outside of country, pop and rock music. In 1986, Bob Buziak, formerly an artist manager, was appointed president of the label.

During the mid-1980s, RCA operated at a deficit, due in part to "overpriced deals" with pop stars including Kenny Rogers (worldwide) and Diana Ross (domestically). In 1986, they bought back $25 million in unsold albums and lost $35 million during the fiscal year 1987. As a partial corrective, a decentralized style of management which allowed RCA Records to function as a free-standing entrepreneurial business was implemented in 1988. Buziak cut the RCA roster from forty acts to 11, and began to rebuild it with a focus on developing artists, including artists acquired through marketing and distribution agreements with Beggars Banquet and Jive Records, whose roster included Schooly D, Kool Moe Dee, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.

By the end of the fiscal year 1988, RCA Records had gross revenue of $236 million in the United States, their most profitable year to date. Bruce Hornsby's The Way It Is sold more than 3 million albums, and the soundtrack for the film Dirty Dancing, which cost RCA $200,000, sold 15.6 million copies in less than two years. Its follow-up, "More Dirty Dancing", composed of song tracks which had been left out of the first album, was produced for $80,000 and went on to sell more than 5.6 million. 11 albums by first-time artists, including Love and Rockets, Rick Astley and the Eurythmics were certified gold, platinum or multiplatinum.[23][24]

The 1990s

In August 1990 Buziak was replaced by Joe Galante, who had been the president of RCA Records Nashville. The roster was cut once again and the A&R department was restructured. Along with the launch of BNA Records and the expansion of the urban music division, these initiatives would prove to be positive, but RCA was unsuccessful under Galante, ranking 10th in market share in 1995.[25][26][27][28] Galante returned to head RCA Nashville and was replaced in March 1995 by the president of RCA Canada, Bob Jamieson.[29] Jamieson overhauled RCA, eliminating a layer of middle management and retooling the label's marketing department. The A&R department was again restructured and the artist roster cut.

By the close of the decade, RCA had undergone what Billboard described as a "remarkable turnaround" with the success of artists including The Dave Matthews Band, Natalie Imbruglia, The Verve Pipe, Robyn, SWV, Christina Aguilera, NSYNC, and Foo Fighters. A distribution deal with Loud Records yielded hit records from urban artists including Big Punisher, Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep.[30]

The 2000s

In 2002, BMG fully acquired J Records, which it had founded in 2000 as a joint venture with Clive Davis. Davis was then named chairman of RCA Records and J Records under the auspices of a new entity, the RCA Music Group, which included RCA Records, J, and Arista Records.[31] In 2004, Sony and BMG merged their music divisions to create Sony BMG, and in 2007, the RCA Music Group was rebranded as the BMG Label Group.[32] In 2006, Sony BMG merged its former Broadway music and classical labels, including Red Seal and Gold Seal, to Sony Masterworks. Legacy Recordings, Sony Music Entertainment's catalog division, reissues classic albums for RCA.

In April 2008, former Zomba Label Group president and CEO Barry Weiss was appointed chairman of the BMG Label Group, and Davis was named chief creative officer of Sony BMG worldwide. In October, Sony acquired BMG's 50% ownership and the BMG Label Group was merged with the Jive Label Group to establish the RCA/Jive Label Group. It included RCA, Jive, J, Arista, Polo Grounds, LaFace Records, Volcano Entertainment, Hitz Committee, Battery Records, and the Verity Gospel Music Group.[33][34][35]

The decade marked a period during which RCA Records had notable success in the pop genre, with Christina Aguilera, NSYNC, Kesha, Pink, Kelly Clarkson and Pitbull scoring multiple #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.[36] NSYNC's No Strings Attached broke sales records, selling more than a million singles in one day and 2.3 million albums in one week. It was the top selling album of the decade.[37]

The 2010s

In May 2011, Doug Morris was appointed chairman of Sony Music Entertainment. Focused on A&R, Morris named J/RCA A&R president Peter Edge chairman and CEO of RCA Music Group. Tom Corson was named president and COO.[38] In October of that year, the Jive, Arista and J imprints were folded into RCA, and RCA Music Group was renamed RCA Records, making it a standalone label under the Sony Music umbrella. Multiple artists from the Jive, Arista and J imprints were shifted to RCA.[39][40][41][42]

Between 2010 and 2015, RCA released platinum and multi-platinum records by Bryson Tiller, Kid Ink, Justin Timberlake, P!nk, Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, Foo Fighters, Sia, Kelly Clarkson, Usher, D'Angelo, A$AP Rocky, Kings Of Leon, Britney Spears, Pitbull, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews Band, Shakira, R. Kelly, Jennifer Hudson, Kesha, T-Pain, G-Eazy, and Mark Ronson. As of May 2015, Ronson's "Uptown Funk" (with Bruno Mars) was the biggest pop hit of the year.[43][44][45][46][47][48]

Broadway and Hollywood

RCA has produced several notable Broadway cast albums, among them the original Broadway recordings of Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, the Mary Martin Peter Pan, Damn Yankees, Hello, Dolly!, Oliver!, and Fiddler on the Roof. RCA has also recorded and released recordings of revival stagings of musicals. These include the musical productions staged at Lincoln Center, such as the 1966 revivals of Show Boat and Annie Get Your Gun, the 1987 revival of Anything Goes and the 1998 Broadway revivals of Cabaret and The Sound of Music. Call Me Madam was recorded by RCA Victor with all of its original cast except for its star Ethel Merman, who, due to contractual obligations, could not be released from her American Decca Records contract. She was replaced on the RCA album by Dinah Shore. RCA was also responsible for the film soundtrack albums of Damn Yankees, South Pacific, Bye Bye Birdie, Half a Sixpence, and The Sound of Music. The album made from the 1965 hit Julie Andrews film was (and is) one of the best selling soundtracks of all time. The film soundtrack of Oliver!, made by Colgems Records, was distributed by RCA, which had released the Broadway cast album. RCA also released the original American cast album of Hair.

Similarly, RCA Victor also made several studio cast recording albums, including a Lerner and Loewe series with Jan Peerce, Jane Powell, and Robert Merrill, as well as a 1963 album of excerpts from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, with its 1952 revival leads, Leontyne Price and William Warfield, but a different supporting cast. They also issued two studio cast versions of Show Boat, one with Robert Merrill, Patrice Munsel, and Rise Stevens in 1956, and the other with Howard Keel, Anne Jeffreys, and Gogi Grant in 1958. Unfortunately, contrary to the way the show is written, both of these Show Boat albums featured all-white casts, reflecting the era of racial segregation.

In 2006, Sony BMG merged its Broadway music labels, including RCA Victor, to the new Masterworks Broadway Records. All of these recordings are now on Masterworks Broadway Records, which has remastered and reissued many of these albums.

Criticisms and controversy

Kelly Clarkson

In the summer of 2007, Kelly Clarkson and Clive Davis, then head of Sony-BMG, feuded publicly regarding the direction of her album My December, the follow-up to Clarkson's multi platinum album, Breakaway. Clarkson wrote the songs on My December, "showcasing her own songwriting on darker, edgier rock-oriented fare," and Davis insisted Clarkson work with hired hitmakers, as she had previously, on "polished, radio-friendly songs." Clarkson refused to change the album, and it was released in June 2007. It has since been certified platinum.[49][50][51]

Avril Lavigne

In November 2010, singer Avril Lavigne stated that the long delay of her fourth album, Goodbye Lullaby, was due to "a bunch of bureaucratic BS" related to RCA.[52] The album was ultimately released in March 2011. In October 2011, Lavigne confirmed that she had left RCA and signed with sister label Epic Records.[53][54]

Kenny Rogers

After singer Kenny Rogers left the label, he accused RCA of trying to ruin his career. Rogers signed to RCA in 1982 for an advance sum of $20 million (the largest deal ever in country music at that time) when Bob Summer was head of the label.[55] Shortly after Rogers' first album for RCA, Summer was fired (for unrelated reasons) by RCA. Deciding it would make the label look bad for firing Summer if Rogers continued to be a major success (his duet with Dolly Parton, "Islands in the Stream", had been one of the biggest hits of 1983), Rogers maintains in his autobiography that he received very little support from the label during the next several years he was with them. Although Rogers and RCA parted ways many years ago, the results of the conflict can still be seen today. In 1989, RCA deleted all of Rogers' solo albums from its catalog soon after he returned to Reprise, where he had recorded when he was a rock artist with his former group, The First Edition. Rogers, in turn, reclaimed rights to those albums for himself as RCA refused to keep them, with only Once Upon A Christmas (a 1984 album of seasonal duets with Parton) remaining in print on RCA. Recent CD reissues of that album have omitted the tracks on which Rogers sang solo.

Neil Sedaka

Neil Sedaka first became a star with RCA Victor in 1958 and was on the label until the end of 1966. The company contributed to his mid-1960s decline by refusing to release his version of "It Hurts To Be In Love" in 1964, because it was not recorded in their studios as stipulated by his contract. His attempts to replicate the song in their studios were unsuccessful. Howard Greenfield and Helen Miller, the song's co-writers, offered it instead to one of Sedaka's close friends, Gene Pitney. Pitney took the existing musical track, replacing Sedaka's lead vocal track with his own. Everything else was Sedaka's, including his own arrangement and backing vocals, piano-playing, and usual female backup singers. Pitney ended up with a No. 7 hit for himself and his record label, Musicor, in 1964. The loss of this song, combined with the British Invasion and RCA's disinterest in promoting him, hastened his decline in popularity (and record sales) and led to his contract expiring without renewal at the end of 1966. Sedaka would rejoin the label briefly in 1971–1972 for his Emergence and Solitaire albums, but despite the efforts of his friend Don Kirshner, RCA did not promote either of these albums extensively. Sedaka would later revive his career in the 1970s with Polydor Records and Rocket Records. RCA, seeking to capitalize on his new fame, began releasing assorted repackaging of his old hits on their family of labels.

Other notable events

RCA Victor decided to demolish their Camden warehouse in the early 1960s.[56] This warehouse held four floors' worth of catalog and vault masters (most of them were pre-tape wax and metal discs), test pressings, lacquer discs, matrix ledgers, and rehearsal recordings. A few days before the demolition took place, some collectors from the US and Europe were allowed to go through the warehouse and salvage whatever they could carry with them for their personal collections. Soon after, collectors and RCA Records officials watched from a nearby bridge as the warehouse was demolished, with many studio masters still intact in the building. The remnants were bulldozed into the Delaware River and a pier was built on top of them. In 1973, when the company decided to release all of Rachmaninoff's recordings on LPs (to celebrate the centennial of the composer's birth), RCA was forced to go to record collectors for materials, as documented by Time.

In the early 1920s, Victor was slow about getting deeply involved in recording and marketing black jazz and vocal blues. By the mid to late 1920s, Victor had signed Jelly Roll Morton, Bennie Moten, Duke Ellington and other black bands and were becoming very competitive with Columbia and Brunswick, even starting their own V-38000 "Hot Dance" series that was marketed to all Victor dealers. They also had a V-38500 "race" series, a 23000 'hot dance' continuation of the V-38000 series, as well as a 23200 'Race' series with blues, gospel and some hard jazz. However, throughout the 1930s, Victor's involvement in jazz and blues slowed down and by the time of the musicians' strike and the end of the war, Victor was neglecting the R&B (race) scene, which is one of the reasons so many independent companies sprang up so successfully.

In the 1970s, the label let much of its catalog go out of print. This pattern affected its jazz catalog most greatly, followed by its classical music catalog.

In the compact disc era a small proportion of its jazz catalog has been reissued. (For example, Jelly Roll Morton albums were reissued; but they were removed from circulation in less than ten years.) Similarly, only a fraction of its vast classical catalog has remained available on compact disc.

Other RCA labels

The current Bluebird label offers mostly Jazz releases, as well as some reissues of historic Jazz, Swing and Pop titles originally released on the RCA Victor label.

Previous labels


Artists and releases

Main articles: List of RCA Records artists and Category:RCA Records artists

See also


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  2. Jones. Andrew F. [2001] (2001). Yellow Music – CL: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2694-9
  3. Sanjek, Russell (July 28, 1998). American Popular Music and Its Business : The First Four Hundred Years ... London: Oxford University Press. p. 118. ISBN 9780195043112. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  4. Edward, David; et al. "RCA Program Transcription Album Discography (1931-33)". bsnpubs.com. Both Sides Now. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  5. "Quality Go Together at RCA Records". via Google. Billboard (archived ad). October 6, 1958. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  6. Penndorf, Ron. "RCA Victor Red Seal Labelography (19501976)". RECOLLECTIONS: Fine Vintage LPs and Journal of Recorded Music. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  7. Carson, B.H. et al. (1949) "A Record Changer and Record of Complementary Design", RCA Review, June 1949, as reprinted by the Audio Engineering Society (retrieved January 5, 2013)
  8. Indiana State Museum document no. 71.2010.098.0001
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  11. "Diskery Goes 33 in March To Service Entire Market; 45 Promotion in High Gear". Billboard. January 7, 1950. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  12. Marion, JC (2005). "Label "X"". Jamm Upp. 2 (36).
  13. The History of Living Stereo, RCA Victor liner notes
  14. Hough, Clint. "Bringing on back the good times". Sixties City. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  15. "Trade Mark Details as at 13 November 2012: Case details for Trade Mark 325592". United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office. September 7, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  16. "British RCA to Cut Decca Ltd. Tie In U.K., Eire & Form Own Set-Up". Billboard. November 4, 1967. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  17. "Richard III (1955) - Soundtrack details". SoundtrackCollector.com. May 13, 2007. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  18. "Taming Of The Shrew, The  – Various Artists : Read reviews and compare prices at Ciao.co.uk". Cd.ciao.co.uk. July 26, 1999. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
  19. "The Rise and Fall of the Compact 33 Record". Megocollector.com. December 18, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  20. Belam, Martin. "Dynaflex - RCA's 1970s ultra-thin vinyl". www.currybet.net. Martin Belam. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  21. RCA: Now Elvis rocked for Bertelsmann, too (PDF), Bertelsmann Worldwide Media
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Further reading

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