Elektra Records
Elektra Records is an American record label
Record label
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion,...

 owned by Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

. In 2004, it was consolidated into WMG's Atlantic Records Group
Atlantic Records Group
Atlantic Records Group is an umbrella label founded in 2004 by Warner Music Group to oversee the labels assigned to its Atlantic Records unit....

. After five years of dormancy, the label was revived by Atlantic in 2009.


Elektra was formed in 1950 by Jac Holzman and Paul Rickolt in Holzman's St. John's College
St. John's College, U.S.
St. John's College is a liberal arts college with two U.S. campuses: one in Annapolis, Maryland and one in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Founded in 1696 as a preparatory school, King William's School, the school received a collegiate charter in 1784, making it one of the oldest institutions of higher...

 dorm room. Each invested $300. The usual spelling of the Greek mythological
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

Pleiades (Greek mythology)
The Pleiades , companions of Artemis, were the seven daughters of the titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione born on Mount Cyllene. They are the sisters of Calypso, Hyas, the Hyades, and the Hesperides...

Electra (Pleiad)
The Pleiad Electra of Greek mythology was one of the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Electra was the wife of Corythus. She was raped by Zeus and gave birth to Dardanus, who became the founder of Troy, ancestor of Priam and his house. According to one legend, she was the lost Pleiad,...

 was changed. Holzman famously explained, “I gave her the ‘K’ that I lacked”. He found the 'C' in the original name "too soft" but liked the "solid bite" of the letter 'K', citing its use in the Kodak name.

The first Elektra LP, New Songs (EKLP 1 released March 1951), was a collection of Lieder and similar 'art' songs which sold few copies. During the Fifties and early Sixties the label concentrated on folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

 recordings, releasing a number of best-selling albums by Theodore Bikel
Theodore Bikel
Theodore Meir Bikel is a character actor, folk singer and musician. He made his film debut in The African Queen and was nominated for an Academy award for his supporting role as Sheriff Max Muller in The Defiant Ones ....

, Ed McCurdy
Ed McCurdy
Ed McCurdy was an American folk singer, songwriter, and television actor. His anti-war classic, "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" , inspired and gave hope to those in the peace movement.-Career:...

, Oscar Brand
Oscar Brand
Oscar Brand is a folk singer, songwriter, and author. In his career, spanning over 60 years, he has composed at least 300 songs and released nearly 100 albums, among them Canadian and American patriotic songs...

, Judy Collins
Judy Collins
Judith Marjorie "Judy" Collins is an American singer and songwriter, known for her eclectic tastes in the material she records ; and for her social activism. She is an alumna of the University of Colorado.-Musical career:Collins was born and raised in Seattle, Washington...

 and protest singers
Protest song
A protest song is a song which is associated with a movement for social change and hence part of the broader category of topical songs . It may be folk, classical, or commercial in genre...

 such as Phil Ochs
Phil Ochs
Philip David Ochs was an American protest singer and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and haunting voice...

 and Tom Paxton
Tom Paxton
Thomas Richard Paxton is an American folk singer and singer-songwriter who has been writing, performing and recording music for over forty years...

. Holzman also recorded Josh White
Josh White
Joshua Daniel White , better known as Josh White, was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. He also recorded under the names "Pinewood Tom" and "Tippy Barton" in the 1930s....

, who was without a record deal as a result of McCarthyite blacklisting.

In 1964, Elektra launched Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Records.-Company history:Nonesuch was founded in 1964 by Jac Holzman to produce "fine records at the same price as a trade paperback", which would be half the price of a normal LP...

. This classical budget label was the best-selling budget classical label of the era. Other labels followed suit by starting their own budget series, but Nonesuch remained the most popular and Jac Holzman states in his book that profits from the budget classical label made it possible for Elektra to experiment with their pop releases by the mid-Sixties.

In 1965, Elektra began a short-lived joint venture with Survey Music called Bounty Records which was Elektra's first foray into pop music. The most notable signing for Bounty was the Paul Butterfield
Paul Butterfield
Paul Butterfield was an American blues vocalist and harmonica player, who founded the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the early 1960s and performed at the original Woodstock Festival...

 Band who was moved over to Elektra when Bounty folded.

Elektra's entrance into pop gained the label 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 rock
Psychedelic rock
Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It emerged during the mid 1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in United States and the United Kingdom...

 of 1966–67. The label’s most important signings were the Chicago-based Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Paul Butterfield
Paul Butterfield was an American blues vocalist and harmonica player, who founded the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the early 1960s and performed at the original Woodstock Festival...

 (with Mike Bloomfield
Mike Bloomfield
Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sang before 1969–70...

), the Los Angeles bands Love
Love (band)
Love was an American rock group of the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were led by singer/songwriter Arthur Lee and lead guitarist Johnny Echols...

 and The Doors
The Doors
The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger...

, and the Detroit bands The Stooges
The Stooges
The Stooges are an American rock band from Ann Arbor, Michigan first active from 1967 to 1974, and later reformed in 2003...

 and MC5
The MC5 is an American rock band formed in Lincoln Park, Michigan and originally active from 1964 to 1972. The original band line-up consisted of vocalist Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson...

. Another of Elektra's LA signings was Tim Buckley
Tim Buckley
Timothy Charles Buckley III was an American vocalist, and musician. His music and style changed considerably through the years; his first album was mostly folk oriented, but over time his music incorporated jazz, psychedelia, funk, soul, avant-garde and an evolving "voice as instrument," sound...

, father-to-be of Jeff Buckley
Jeff Buckley
Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Buckley , raised as Scotty Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He was the son of Tim Buckley, also a musician...


Also in 1967, Elektra launched its influential Nonesuch Explorer Series, one of the first collections of what is now referred to as world music
World music
World music is a term with widely varying definitions, often encompassing music which is primarily identified as another genre. This is evidenced by world music definitions such as "all of the music in the world" or "somebody else's local 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 1
Voyager 1
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. Operating for as of today , the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. At a distance of as of...

 and Voyager 2
Voyager 2
The Voyager 2 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space...

 space probes.

The Asylum Records merger

Elektra, along with its Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Records.-Company history:Nonesuch was founded in 1964 by Jac Holzman to produce "fine records at the same price as a trade paperback", which would be half the price of a normal LP...

 subsidiary, was acquired by Kinney National Company
Kinney National Company
Kinney National Services, Inc. was formed in 1966 when the Kinney Parking Company and the National Cleaning Company merged. The new company was headed by Steve Ross....

 in 1970. Soon afterwards Kinney consolidated their label holdings under the Warner Communications
Warner Communications
Warner Communications or Warner Communications, Inc. was established in 1971 when Kinney National Company spun off its non-entertainment assets, due to a financial scandal over its parking operations and changed its name....

 umbrella. Holzman remained in charge of Elektra until 1972, when it merged with Asylum Records
Asylum Records
Asylum Records is an American record label founded in 1971 by David Geffen, and partner Elliot Roberts, who had previously worked as agents at the William Morris Agency. Founded specifically to provide a record contract for Jackson Browne, the label signed Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell...

 to become Elektra/Asylum Records; Asylum's founder, David Geffen
David Geffen
David Geffen is an American record executive, film producer, theatrical producer and philanthropist. Geffen is noted for creating Asylum Records in 1970, Geffen Records in 1980, and DGC Records in 1990...

, would head the newly combined label. Holzman, in the meantime, was appointed senior vice president and chief technologist for Warner — ushering the company into home video and the first interactive cable system. Holzman also went on to start Discovery Records
Discovery Records
Discovery Records was a United States-based record label known for its recordings of jazz music.Discovery was founded in 1948 by jazz fan and promoter Albert Marx...

. In 1975, Geffen stepped down due to health problems. He would be replaced by Joe Smith, who later went on to become CEO of Capitol Records
Capitol Records
Capitol Records is a major United States based record label, formerly located in Los Angeles, but operating in New York City as part of Capitol Music Group. Its former headquarters building, the Capitol Tower, is a major landmark near the corner of Hollywood and Vine...


Joe Smith, under whose leadership resulted in the biggest market share and gross revenues Elektra Asylum was to have, inherited the A&R services of Chuck Plotkin, famed later for producing many of Bruce Springsteen's greatest records, followed up by George Daly
George Daly (Music Industry)
George Daly is a music executive, songwriter, musician, video and music producer and technology inventor, who originally worked as an A&R music executive...

, who is credited as bringing in seminal New Wave band The Cars, setting Elektra, again, on another artist direction.

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, Elektra launched a jazz subsidiary called Elektra/Musician
Elektra/Musician was a jazz record label founded as a subsidiary of Elektra Records in 1982.-Discography:...

. The following year, Bob Krasnow
Bob Krasnow
Bob Krasnow is a leading music industry entrepreneur. His early career included working as a promotions man for James Brown and sales representative for Decca Records. In the early 1960s, Krasnow founded MK Records, which released the novelty record "," a parody of the 1960 presidential campaign...

 became president and CEO of Elektra; under his leadership, the label would reach its commercial peak throughout the rest of the 1980s and early to mid 1990s.

Elektra Entertainment Group

In 1989, the company officially changed its name to Elektra Entertainment. During this time, Elektra developed a relationship with the UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

-based label 4AD
4AD is a British independent record label that was started in 1979 by Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent, funded by Beggars Banquet Records, and is still active today...

, becoming the North American distributor for 4AD acts such as the Pixies, The Breeders
The Breeders
The Breeders are an American alternative rock band formed in 1988 by Kim Deal of the Pixies and Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses. The band has experienced a number of line-up changes; the current line-up consists of Kim Deal , her twin sister Kelley Deal , Jose Medeles , Mando Lopez Todd the Fox...

, Frank Black
Frank Black
Black Francis is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known as the frontman of the influential alternative rock band Pixies, with whom he performs under the stage name Black Francis. Following the band's breakup in 1993, he embarked on a solo career under the name Frank Black...

 and The Amps
The Amps
The Amps were an indie-rock band from Dayton, Ohio. Formed by Kim Deal in 1995 after The Breeders went on hiatus, they first began touring as "Tammy Ampersand and the Amps" but it was later shortened to "The Amps."Their album Pacer was released in 1995.Kim Deal originally intended to play all of...

. This eventually led to Elektra's sister label Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

 to sign an exclusive American distribution deal for nearly all 4AD releases from 1992 to 1998.

Like its sister labels, Elektra's fortunes began to wane in the mid-1990s, in part because of a series of bitter corporate battles between senior Warner label executives which seriously damaged the collective reputation of the group. Unhappy with major structural changes enacted by then Warner Music Group chairman Robert Morgado, Bob Krasnow abruptly resigned in July 1994, and others soon followed—the highly respected Warner Bros CEO Mo Ostin
Mo Ostin
Mo Ostin is a record executive who has worked for several companies, including Verve, Reprise Records, Warner Bros. Records, and DreamWorks. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 by Paul Simon, Neil Young, and Lorne Michaels...

 decided not to renew his contract and left in December 1994, and Ostin's friend and protege Lenny Waronker
Lenny Waronker
Lenny Waronker is a record producer for Warner Bros. Records.-Career:He produced recording sessions for Nancy Sinatra, The Everly Brothers, Van Dyke Parks, The Beau Brummels, Harpers Bizarre, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Arlo Guthrie, Maria Muldaur, Gordon Lightfoot, Rickie Lee Jones, James Taylor, ...

 left early the next year. Krasnow was replaced by Sylvia Rhone
Sylvia Rhone
Sylvia Rhone is an American music industry executive who served as president of Universal Motown Records until 2011.She has overseen a roster of artists in the Universal Motown lineup including Lil Wayne and the Cash Money artists Nicki Minaj, Drake, Kid Cudi, Nelly, Melanie Fiona, Akon, Erykah...

 and during the year the label was renamed Elektra Entertainment Group.

In September 1994 another damaging controversy erupted when top heavy metal band Metallica
Metallica is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1981 when James Hetfield responded to an advertisement that drummer Lars Ulrich had posted in a local newspaper. The current line-up features long-time lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo ...

 filed suit against Elektra to terminate their contract and gain ownership of their master recordings. The group based its claim on a section of the California Labor Code
California Labor Code
The California Labor Code, more formally known as "the Labor Code" is a collection of civil law statutes for the State of California. The code is made up of statutes which govern the general obligations and rights of persons within the jurisdiction of the State of California.-Division 1...

 that allows employees to be released from a personal services contract after seven years. By this time Metallica had been with the label for more than a decade and had racked up sales of over 40 million records, but they were still operating under the terms of their original 1984 contract, which provided a relatively low 14% royalty rate. The group also claimed that they were taking the action because Robert Morgado had refused to honor a new deal they had worked out with Bob Krasnow shortly before he quit the label. Elektra responded by counter-suing the group, but in December New York magazine reported rumours that then Warner Music US chairman Doug Morris had offered the group a lucrative new deal in exchange for dropping the suit which was reported to be even more generous than the earlier Krasnow deal. In January the group and Elektra jointly announced that they had settled the suit, and although a non-disclosure agreement kept the terms secret, media sources claimed that "a significant increase in royalty payments to the band as well as a renegotiation of the group's recording contract were key factors in Metallica and Elektra coming to terms."

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 "Neglektra" by many of its acts and was easily lagging behind its sister labels Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label. It was the foundation label of the present-day Warner Music Group, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of that corporation. It maintains a close relationship with its former parent, Warner Bros. Pictures, although the two companies...

 and Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records is an American record label best known for its many recordings of rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and jazz...


Atlantic absorption

In February 2004, Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group is the third largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry, making it one of the big four record companies...

 was sold by Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 to a group of private investors made up of Thomas Lee Partners, Bain & Company
Bain & Company
Bain & Company is a global management consulting firm headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Bain is considered one of the most prestigious consulting firms in the world, with 47 offices in 30 countries and over 5,500 professionals on staff globally...

, 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
Atlantic Records Group
Atlantic Records Group is an umbrella label founded in 2004 by Warner Music Group to oversee the labels assigned to its Atlantic Records unit....

" with Elektra breaking off into a subsidiary which became dormant until the label was revived in 2009 (though longtime time Elektra artists such as Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her singles "Fast Car", "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", "Baby Can I Hold You", "Give Me One Reason" and "Telling Stories". She is a multi-platinum and four-time Grammy Award-winning artist.-Biography:Tracy Chapman was born in Cleveland,...

, Björk
Björk Guðmundsdóttir , known as Björk , is an Icelandic singer-songwriter. Her eclectic musical style has achieved popular acknowledgement and popularity within many musical genres, such as rock, jazz, electronic dance music, classical and folk...

, and Yolanda Adams
Yolanda Adams
Yolanda Adams is an American Grammy- and Dove-award-winning Yolanda Adams is an American [[Grammy Awards|Grammy]]- and [[Dove Awards|Dove]]-award-winning...

 continued to have releases on the label while newer signees such as Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz
Jason Thomas Mraz , also known as Mr. AZ and Mr. Raz, is an American singer-songwriter. Mraz released his debut album, Waiting for My Rocket to Come, which contained the hit single "The Remedy ", in 2002, but it was not until the release of his second album, "Mr. A-Z", in 2005, that Mraz achieved...

 and Jet
Jet (band)
Jet are an Australian rock band formed in 2001 while attending St Bede's College Mentone in Melbourne, . The band consists of lead guitarist Cameron Muncey, bassist Mark Wilson, and brothers Nic and Chris Cester on vocals/rhythm guitar and drums respectively...

 were transferred to Atlantic).

Elektra's catalog continues to be released/reissued by Rhino Records, which released a 5-CD box set various-artists compilation
Compilation album
A compilation album is an album featuring tracks from one or more performers, often culled from a variety of sources The tracks are usually collected according to a common characteristic, such as popularity, genre, source or subject matter...

 titled Forever Changing: the Golden Age of Elektra Records 1963-1973 in November, 2006.


Atlantic Records Group announced the revival of Elektra Records as an independent entity within Warner Music on June 1, 2009
2009 in music
The following is a list of notable events and releases in 2009 in music. Susan Boyle's album I Dreamed a Dream became the biggest selling album in the world for 2009, selling 8.3 million copies in five weeks; more than any other artist's in the whole year...

. The revived label is headed up by two new co-Presidents: Mike Caren
Mike Caren
Mike Caren is an American Record Producer, Executive Vice President of A&R for Atlantic Records and Co-President of Elektra Records. After completing jobs with SRC/Loud Records and Ruthless Records, he started his career at Atlantic in 1995 at the age of seventeen as Manager of Rap Marketing for...

, Exec. VP of A&R for Atlantic Records, and John Janick, founder and President of prominent indie label Fueled by Ramen
Fueled by Ramen
Fueled by Ramen is an American record label which operates as a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, and is distributed by Atlantic Records. The label, founded in Gainesville, Florida, is based in New York City...

. The revived label uses a modified version of the circa-1970s Elektra logo.

The first release of the new label was the original soundtrack of the HBO show True Blood
True Blood
True Blood is an American television series created and produced by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional, small town in the state of Louisiana...

, and the first album released was Charlotte Gainsbourg
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Charlotte Lucy Gainsbourg is an Anglo-French actress and singer. After releasing an album with her father at the age of fifteen, more than twenty years passed before she released two albums as an adult to commercial and critical success...

's IRM
IRM (album)
-Bonus tracks:-Reception:The album currently has a Metacritic score of 80/100 based on 21 professional reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".-Charts:-Release history:-Sunset Sound EP:...

. The label is now home to artists such as Uffie
Anna-Catherine Hartley , better known by her stage name Uffie , is a Paris-based underground electronic musician, rapper, fashion designer and socialite signed to French electronic music record label Ed Banger Records. She has been described as a muse for French DJs, and is known for working with...

, Little Boots
Little Boots
Victoria Christina Hesketh, also known by her stage name/pseudonym Little Boots, is an English electropop singer-songwriter. Her stage name comes from a nickname given to her by a friend, a reference to her unusually small feet...

, Justice
Justice (French band)
Justice is a French electronic music duo consisting of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay . The duo is one of the most successful groups on Ed Banger Records and is managed by the label's head, Pedro Winter...

, Cee-Lo Green, and Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars
Peter Gene Hernandez , better known by his stage name Bruno Mars, is an Filipino-American singer-songwriter and record producer. Raised in Honolulu, Hawaii by a family of musicians, Mars began making music at a young age...


External links

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