|Capitol Records, Inc.|
|Parent company||Universal Music Group|
|Distributor(s)||Capitol Music Group|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
Capitol Records, Inc. is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Capitol Music Group imprint. It was founded as the first West Coast-based record label in the United States in 1942 by Johnny Mercer, Buddy DeSylva, and Glenn E. Wallichs, and was later acquired by British music conglomerate EMI as its North American subsidiary in 1955. EMI was later acquired by Universal Music Group in 2012 and was merged with the company a year later, making Capitol and the Capitol Music Group both a part of UMG. The label's circular headquarter building located in Hollywood is a recognized landmark of California.
Artists currently signed to Capitol Records include Katy Perry, Sir Paul McCartney, Mary J. Blige, the Beach Boys, the Beastie Boys, Neil Diamond, Eagles, Brian Wilson, Beck, Avenged Sevenfold, 5 Seconds of Summer, Don Henley, Sam Smith, Migos, NF, Emeli Sandé, Troye Sivan, Calum Scott, Tori Kelly, Jon Bellion, and Niall Horan.
Capitol Records was founded by songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1942, with the financial help of fellow songwriter and film producer Buddy DeSylva and the business acumen of Glenn Wallichs, the owner of Wallichs Music City. Mercer first raised the idea of starting a record company while golfing with Harold Arlen and Bobby Sherwood. By 1941, Mercer was an experienced songwriter and a singer with multiple successful releases. Mercer next suggested the idea to Wallichs while visiting his record store. Wallichs expressed interest in the idea and the pair negotiated an agreement whereby Mercer would run the company and identify their artists, while Wallichs managed the business side. On February 2, 1942, Mercer and Wallichs met with DeSylva at a Hollywood restaurant to inquire about the possibility of investment of the company from Paramount Pictures. While DeSylva declined the proposal, he handed the pair a check worth $15,000. On March 27, 1942, the three men incorporated as Liberty Records (not to be confused with an unrelated label later founded in 1955, Liberty Records, which was eventually acquired by Capitol). In May 1942, the application was amended to change the company's name to Capitol Records. On April 6, 1942, Mercer supervised Capitol's first recording session where Martha Tilton recorded the song "Moon Dreams". On May 5, Bobby Sherwood and his orchestra recorded two tracks in the studio. On May 21, Freddie Slack and his orchestra recorded three tracks in the studio; one with the orchestra, one with Ella Mae Morse called "Cow-Cow Boogie" and "Air-Minded Executive" supervised by Mercer. On June 4, 1942, Capitol opened its first office in a second-floor room south of Sunset Boulevard. On that same day, Wallichs presented the company's first free record to Los Angeles disc jockey Peter Potter, thus originating the practice of distributing free discs to DJs. On June 5, 1942, Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra recorded four songs at the studio. On June 12, the orchestra recorded five more songs in the studio, including one featuring Billie Holiday, "Trav'lin' Light." On June 11, Tex Ritter recorded "(I Got Spurs That) Jingle Jangle Jingle" and "Goodbye My Little Cherokee" for his first Capitol recording session, and the songs formed Capitol's 110th produced record.
The earliest recording artists included co-owner Mercer, Whiteman, Tilton, Morse, Margaret Whiting, Jo Stafford, the Pied Pipers, Johnnie Johnston, Tex Ritter, and Paul Weston and His Orchestra. Capitol's first gold single was Morse's "Cow Cow Boogie" in 1942. Capitol's first album was Capitol Presents Songs By Johnny Mercer, a three 78-rpm disc set with recordings by Mercer, Stafford and the Pied Pipers, all with Weston's Orchestra. The label's other 1940s artists included Les Baxter, Les Brown, the Nat Cole Trio, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Benny Goodman, Betty Hutton, Stan Kenton, Dinning Sisters, Skitch Henderson, Billy Butterfield, Kay Starr, Peggy Lee, Billy May, Alvino Rey, Jimmy Bryant, Speedy West, Les Paul, Mary Ford, Andy Russell, Smilin' Jack Smith, Sammy Davis Jr., Cootie Williams, and western swing artists on the Capitol Americana label Lead Belly, Cliffie Stone, Hank Thompson (musician), Merle Travis, Wesley Tuttle, Jimmy Wakely and Tex Williams amongst others. Capitol was the first major West Coast label and competed with New York City-based East Coast powers RCA Victor, Columbia and Decca. In addition to its Los Angeles recording studio, Capitol owned a second studio in New York City and, on occasion, sent mobile recording equipment to New Orleans and other cities.
By 1946, Capitol had sold 42 million records and was established as one of the "Big Six" record labels. Also in 1946, writer-producer Alan W. Livingston created Bozo the Clown for the company's new children's record library. Examples of notable Capitol albums for children during that era are Sparky's Magic Piano and Rusty in Orchestraville. Capitol also developed a noted jazz catalog that included the Capitol Jazz Men and issued the Miles Davis-led sessions, "Birth of the Cool". Capitol released a few classical albums in the 1940s, some of which featured a heavily embossed, leather-like cover. These recordings initially appeared in the 78 rpm format and were then released on LPs (33 1/3 rpm) in 1949. Among the recordings was a unique performance from Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos' Choros No. 10, with contributions from a Los Angeles choral group and the Janssen Symphony Orchestra (1940-1952), conducted by Werner Janssen; Symphony No. 3 by Russian composer Reinhold Moritzovich Glière; and César Franck's Symphony in D minor, with Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1949, its Canadian branch was established and Capitol purchased the KHJ Studios on Melrose Avenue that is adjacent to the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood. By the mid-1950s, Capitol had become a huge company that concentrated on popular music.
The label's roster during the 1950s included Nat King Cole, the Four Knights, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Frank Sinatra, Stan Kenton, June Christy, Louis Prima, Keely Smith, the Louvin Brothers, Judy Garland, the Andrews Sisters, Dick Haymes, Kay Starr, Jackie Gleason, Harry James, Jane Froman, Wesley Tuttle, the Four Preps, Ray Anthony, Andy Griffith, Shirley Bassey, Hank Thompson, Merle Travis, Tommy Duncan, Skeets McDonald, the Kingston Trio (who in 1960 would account for 20% of all record sales for Capitol), Dean Martin, Nelson Riddle, the Four Freshmen, Al Martino, and Dinah Shore. Notable comedy recordings included Johnny Standley, several by Stan Freberg and the Yiddish-dialect parodies of Mickey Katz. The label also began recording rock and roll acts such as the Jodimars and Gene Vincent. Children listened to Capitol's Bozo the Clown albums, which featured 78-rpm discs and full color booklets that children could follow as they listened. Although various people played Bozo the Clown on television, Capitol used the voice of Pinto Colvig, who was also the voice for Walt Disney's cartoon character Goofy. Don Wilson also released some children's records. In June 1952, Billboard magazine presented a multi-page chronicle of the label's first ten years in business.
In 1955, the British record company EMI ended its 55-year mutual distribution agreement with RCA Victor and acquired 96% of Capitol Records' stock for $8.5 million. Soon afterward, EMI built a new studio at Hollywood and Vine to match its state-of-the-art Abbey Road Studios in London. EMI's classical Angel Records label was merged into Capitol in 1957. Some classical recordings were issued in high fidelity and even stereophonic sound on the label by William Steinberg and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski with various orchestras (including the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra) and Sir Thomas Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as light classical albums by Carmen Dragon and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and a series of albums of film music conducted by leading Hollywood composers such as Alfred Newman.
In 1959, with the advent of stereo, Capitol changed its LP label design from a large "dome logo" with a gray background to a smaller "dome logo" in a silver oval with a black background and a colorband around the edge. At first, the oval was on the left side of the label, with a tapering spire extending from the top and bottom. Classical labels replaced the spire with the words "Incomparible High-Fidelity" and added a round "FDS-Full Dimensional Sound" shield. In the early 1960s the oval was moved to the top of the label, while the colorband was slightly narrower. This design was used until 1969.
During the 1950s Capitol introduced its series of "Hi-Q" production music LPs and tapes. Television and film productions that made use of this extensive library included The Gumby Show, Davey and Goliath, The Donna Reed Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Ren & Stimpy Show and the earliest Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Due to a strike by the American Federation of Musicians in 1958 affecting motion picture orchestras, Warner Bros. relied on several cues from the library to score some of its theatrical cartoons. Capitol also released many soundtrack recordings in the 1950s, including the film versions of three Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The King and I, as well as excerpts from Dimitri Tiomkin's music from Warner Bros.' Giant.
Capitol's Capitol of the World series, introduced in 1956 and active into the 1970s, encompassed a wide range of titles, from its early best-selling German Beer Drinking Songs and Honeymoon in Rome to more "exotic" titles such as Australian Aboriginals and Kasongo! Modern Music of the Belgian Congo. Many were produced by Dave Dexter, Jr. "Capitol of the World" included over 400 albums. Four subcategories were designed to bring particular aspects of a country's music and culture to the listener: "modern song stylists" for "popular tunes of the day presented by the top stars of foreign lands"; "folk songs" for "authentic music of the people, handed down from generation to generation"; "folk dances" for "traditional dance music that captures the living spirit of distant lands"; and "unusual recordings" for "exotic instruments and unique musical groups rarely heard" in the United States.
One of the first rock bands to sign with Capitol Records in the early 1960s was the Beach Boys, founded in February 1962. As the British music scene burgeoned in 1963, Capitol, as an EMI label, had the right of first refusal on EMI artists. After initial resistance to issuing records by the Beatles, who were signed to sister EMI label Parlophone in the U.K., Capitol exercised its option in November 1963 and helped usher in Beatlemania in 1964. The Beatles' earliest US issues had been on the independent Vee-Jay label and the key "She Loves You" single on the small Swan label. Capitol's producers significantly altered the content of the Beatles' albums (see "The Beatles") and, believing the Beatles' recordings were unsuited to the US market, modified them. They brightened the sound and piped the recordings through an echo chamber located underneath the parking lots outside the Tower. Other instances in which Capitol exercised its right of first refusal included its passing on such EMI acts as the Dave Clark Five, Gerry & the Pacemakers, the Hollies, the Swinging Blue Jeans, The Yardbirds, and Manfred Mann (among others), all of which had their records issued on Canadian Capitol.
As rock music's influence grew in America, Capitol Records hired Artie Kornfeld, who later co-created and produced the Woodstock Festival, as a vice president in his early 20s, making him the youngest to hold the position and the first vice president of rock and roll ever. Capitol also either signed or became the distributor of albums in the United States by Badfinger, the Band, Joe South, Glen Campbell, Bobby Darin, Vic Damone, Grand Funk Railroad, Howard Roberts, the Human Beinz, the Chocolate Watchband, If, the Lettermen, Lou Rawls, Steve Miller Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, People, Pink Floyd, Buck Owens, Nancy Wilson, Bobbie Gentry, Linda Ronstadt, the Outsiders, Sandler and Young, Peter Tosh, Bob Seger, and various solo albums by members of the Beatles.
The classic red and yellow "swirl" 45 RPM label design (pictured) was first used in January 1962. Originally yellow and orange, it became yellow and red in the mid-1960s. It was brought back briefly from 1979 to 1981 for use on 45 RPM records by the Knack. Before 1968, it also appeared on "Starline" label for reissues, albeit with light and dark green swirls replacing yellow and orange (or red) ones. (Several CD reissues, including an early-1990s version of the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds", used the "swirl" label.) In 1968, EMI increased its stake in Capitol Records to 98%; However that same year, Capitol merged with Audio Devices, Inc., a manufacturer of computer tape and recording, to form a new holding company called Capitol Industries, Inc., reducing EMI's stake of the company to 68%.
In the summer of 1969, Capitol replaced its "dome" logo with a "C" logo incorporating a new 45 rpm record design. The new logo appeared on a light-green background on albums and a red and orange concentric-circle label on 45s. These became known as the "target" labels. The target label for LPs had a red background for most albums released from May 1971 until November 1972, when both albums and 45s had an orange label with the word "Capitol" printed at the bottom. (In 1971, Grand Funk Railroad became the first Capitol act to be given custom label designs for all its releases, beginning with the "E Pluribus Funk" album.) Budget albums had the same logos but with a yellow backdrop. (The "dome" logo did not disappear entirely: on many labels of this era it can be seen in the small print at the edge.) In 1978, the "dome" design returned with purple backgrounds for rock and pop releases and red backgrounds for soul and disco. Budget albums had the same logo but a blue or green label. Between 1964 and 1970, Tower Records was a subsidiary label. Other short-lived subsidiary labels included Uptown, Crazy Horse and Sidewalk.
In 1972, the company changed its name to Capitol Industries-EMI, Inc. after EMI increased its holdings to 70.84%. By 1976, EMI had purchased the remaining shares. In the seventies, Capitol started two alternative labels: EMI America Records and EMI Manhattan Records. New artists included John Lennon, Helen Reddy, Anne Murray, Skylark, April Wine, Blondie, Bloodrock, Burning Spear, Buzzcocks, David Bowie, Kim Carnes, Rosanne Cash, Max Webster, Lee Clayton, Natalie Cole, the Goose Creek Symphony, Sammy Hagar, the Knack, Maze, Mink DeVille, Juice Newton, Raspberries, Minnie Riperton, Diana Ross, Sweet, the Specials, the Sylvers, Ten Wheel Drive, the Stranglers, Tavares, George Thorogood, Triumvirate, Little River Band, Wings and the Persuasions. In 1977, EMI merged with THORN Electrical Industries to form Thorn EMI PLC. In 1979, Capitol was merged into the newly formed EMI Music Worldwide division.
Capitol added artists across genres during the 1980s: popular music groups and singers like Richard Marx, The Motels, Tina Turner, George Clinton, Billy Squier, Crowded House, Peter Blakeley, Duran Duran (and spinoffs Arcadia and The Power Station), Heart, The Doobie Brothers, Katrina & The Waves, Lloyd Cole, Sawyer Brown, Queen, Brian Setzer, the Smithereens, The Tubes, Paul Westerberg, Missing Persons, Butthole Surfers, Plasmatics, Megadeth, Exodus, Rigor Mortis, Helix, W.A.S.P., Poison, Iron Maiden, Climie Fisher, Beastie Boys, King Tee, Mantronix, Mellow Man Ace, Robbie Robertson, Dave Koz, Ashford and Simpson, Freddie Jackson, BeBe & CeCe Winans and Skinny Puppy. In 1983, the Beatles-era "colorband" label design was brought back, with white print, for both albums and 45's. The last label Capitol used on records was a return to the old purple design with the "dome logo"; after that, compact discs became the dominant format for recorded music. Since the advent of CDs, labels on the discs have varied greatly.
Nineties acts include Blind Melon, Garth Brooks, Meredith Brooks, Coldplay, The Dandy Warhols, Dilated Peoples, Doves, Everclear, Foo Fighters, Geri Halliwell, Ice Cube, Idlewild, Jane's Addiction, the Jesus Lizard, Selena, Jimmy Eat World, Ras Kass, Kottonmouth Kings, Ben Lee, Less Than Jake, Luscious Jackson, Lynda Thomas, Tara MacLean, Marcy Playground, Jesse Campbell, Mazzy Star, MC Eiht, MC Hammer, MC Ren, The Moffatts, Moist, Liz Phair, Lisa Marie Presley, Radiohead, Bonnie Raitt, Selena, Snoop Dogg, Spearhead, Starsailor, Stir, Supergrass, Télépopmusik, Television, Richard Thompson, Butthole Surfers and Robbie Williams. The Ultra-Lounge series of compilation CDs appeared in 1996.
In 2001, EMI merged Capitol with the Priority Records label. The combined label manages rap artists including Cee-Lo, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, C-Murder, Lil Romeo and Lil Zane. Other 21st-century artists included Katy Perry (whose 2010 album, Teenage Dream, is the most successful, producing six No. 1 singles), J. Holiday, Jiggolo, LeToya (who, in 2006, had the first No. 1 album for the label since MC Hammer's 1990 masterpiece Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em), Zay, Red Cafe, Aslyn, Melissa Auf der Maur, Big Moe, Chingy, the Decemberists, Depeche Mode, Dexter Freebish, From First to Last, the F-Ups, Faith Evans, Fischerspooner, Interpol, Jonny Greenwood, Shelby Lynne, Kudai, Ed Harcourt, Houston, Van Hunt, Javier, Mae, Matthew Jay, Kylie Minogue, Dave Navarro, OK Go, Lady Antebellum, Lisa Marie Presley, Relient K, Anahí, Belinda Peregrin, Roscoe, RBD, Saosin, Sick Puppies, Squad Five-O, Otep, the Star Spangles, Steriogram, Skye Sweetnam, the Vines, Yellowcard, Young Bleed, Young Life, Don Yute, Cherish, Sky Ferreira, Shout Out Louds, Hurt, Corinne Bailey Rae, the Magic Numbers, Hedley, End of Fashion, Mims, Keith Urban and Morningwood.
In 2001, Robbie Williams released his smash hit album (of jazz songs being remade) called Swing When You're Winning on the Capitol label (rather than his native Chrysalis Records) in tribute to his musical hero Frank Sinatra.
In 2006, the label signed a deal to distribute Fat Joe's music and that of his record label Terror Squad Entertainment. Around the same time, Capitol was able to sign up-and-coming New York rapper Mims. In this deal they also agreed to distribute music from Mims' record label American King Music. Around this time they also added recording artist J. Holiday to their roster as the main artist for Capitol Music Group, as they had become frequent collaborators. Capitol gained ground on other labels such as Def Jam, and Interscope Records with these signings. In 2007, they cut a distribution deal with the Game's The Black Wall Street Records and signed former Bad Boy Records star Faith Evans. Jermaine Dupri and his So So Def Recordings label were briefly signed as a result of Capitol Records merging with Virgin Records. Dupri was the head of urban music for the label.
In February 2007, EMI announced the merger of Virgin Records and Capitol into the Capitol Music Group. As part of this restructuring, hundreds of staff from multiple divisions were laid off and many artists were cut from the roster. In September 2006, EMI announced that they had sold the tower and adjacent properties for $50 million to New York-based developer Argent Ventures. Capitol continued to lease the building as its West Coast office.
Capitol Records filed a lawsuit against Vimeo, an online video-sharing website, for audio copyright infringement. Capitol filed the claim after users were visibly lip-synching to some of their tracks.
Artists signed or distributed in the 2010s include Shane Filan, Tori Kelly, Brian Wilson, Capital Cities, 5 Seconds of Summer, Bastille, Morrissey, My Morning Jacket, Counting Crows, Beck, Arcade Fire, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Jon Bellion, Alice In Chains, Niykee Heaton, the Decemberists and Niall Horan.
In 2012, the recorded music operations of EMI were sold to the Universal Music Group and the world headquarters were re-established in the Capitol Tower as part of the subsequent reorganization of the Capitol Music Group. Steve Barnett, previously an employee of Columbia Records, was recruited to run the division.
Following a legal action by Capitol Records against the ReDigi.com online company in April 2013, the latter was found to be in violation of copyright law. Capitol Records claimed that ReDigi was guilty of copyright infringement due to a business model that facilitated the creation of additional copies of Capitol's digital music files, whereby users could upload the files for downloading or streaming to the new purchaser of the file. ReDigi argued that the resale of MP3/digital music files is actually permitted under certain doctrines ("fair use" and "first sale") but the court maintained that the doctrines' application "was limited to material items that the copyright owner put into the stream of commerce."
In 2014, PGH Live Music joined the team and Katy Perry founded the record label Metamorphosis Music, starting a label venture with Capitol Records. The name of the label was later changed to Unsub Records in 2016. Also that year, Capitol rose to number two in terms of market share and swept all four major award categories at the Grammys through the works of Beck and Sam Smith. In 2016, the band Avenged Sevenfold created their own imprint, Avenged Sevenfold Partnership, on which they released their new album, The Stage.
Capitol Records has released some of the most notable original cast albums and motion picture soundtrack albums ever made. Between 1955 and 1956, they released the soundtracks of three now-classic Rodgers and Hammerstein films, Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The King and I. The mono versions of these soundtrack albums were all released the year that the films were released. The films had been released in then state-of-the-art stereo, so Capitol later released stereo albums of the soundtracks. However, the mono and stereo versions did not always contain identical material. Because stereo grooves took up more space than their mono counterparts, the stereo versions were somewhat shorter than their predecessors. This was not much of a problem with Oklahoma!, because the soundtrack was relatively short. The only piece missing from the stereo edition of the album was a few seconds of the overture. With Carousel, however, half of the Carousel Waltz had to be lopped off, and with The King and I, the instrumental bridge from the song Getting to Know You was removed. These albums (especially Oklahoma!) were bestsellers for Capitol for many years, until, in the 1990s, Angel Records bought the rights to them. Angel Records restored the omitted portions, and in 2001 issued new expanded editions that included all music left out of every previous edition of these soundtracks, bringing the playing time of each to well over an hour.
In 1957, Capitol issued the original cast album of The Music Man, starring Robert Preston, an album that became one of the biggest cast album sellers of all time, even after the highly successful film version of the show was released in 1962. Capitol was also responsible for the original cast and film soundtrack albums of Cole Porter's Can-Can and the original cast album of Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. In 1962, Capitol issued a studio cast recording of the songs from Lionel Bart's Oliver!, in anticipation of its U.S. tour prior to its opening on Broadway. Barbra Streisand starring in Broadway's Funny Girl had the cast album, both mono and stereo versions, released by Capitol Records in 1964, which reached #2 in the Billboard 200 chart, and won a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
In 1966, Capitol released the soundtrack album of the documentary tribute John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums, a film made by the United States Information Agency that, originally, was not produced for general viewing. However, the quality of the film was considered so high that the public was eventually allowed to see it. The film featured the voice of Gregory Peck as narrator, with narration written and music composed by Bruce Herschensohn. The album was virtually a condensed version of the film--it included the narration as well as the music. One immensely successful spoken word album was the soundtrack of Franco Zeffirelli's film Romeo and Juliet, based on Shakespeare's play. The film became the highest grossing Shakespeare film for several years and the album was also a tremendous hit. It featured not only Nino Rota's score, but large chunks of Shakespeare's dialog. The success of this album spurred Capitol to issue two other Romeo and Juliet albums, one a three-disc album that contained the entire soundtrack (dialog and music), and another album that contained only Nino Rota's score.
As Capitol was later accused of doing with Beatles albums, the label modified the Years of Lightning and Romeo and Juliet albums. Extra music was added to some scenes that, in the film, contained little or no music, such as the duel between Romeo and Tybalt. Presumably this was done to show off the score--and at the end of both the abridged and complete versions of the Romeo albums, the end credits music was omitted, especially unfortunate since virtually all of the film's credits were saved for the end of the picture. Capitol tried to strike gold again with another spoken word album, one made from the 1970 film Cromwell, starring Richard Harris and Alec Guinness, but neither the film nor album were successful.
The influence of the Romeo and Juliet album briefly spread to other record companies. Columbia Records issued an album of dialog and music excerpts from the successful 1970 Dustin Hoffman film, Little Big Man, and also Barbra Streisand's The Owl and the Pussycat (album) in the same year; and 20th Century Fox Records included George C. Scott's opening and closing speeches, as well as Jerry Goldsmith's score, in their soundtrack album made from the film Patton.
As was common practice in the 1950s and 1960s, Capitol modified some albums that were originally released in other countries on other labels. Albums released in the United States contained fewer tracks, typically no more than 11 or 12, compared to albums released in the United Kingdom due to differences in the method publishing royalties were calculated in the two countries. Also, in the American market it was expected for albums to include the current hit single, whereas British albums typically did not duplicate songs released as singles.
Possibly the most well-known treatment of an international artist's recordings was the company's release pattern for various albums by the Beatles. This began with Capitol's release of Meet the Beatles!, the first album by the band to be released by Capitol in the United States. It was based on the British album With the Beatles, which contained 14 tracks and a running time of around 35 minutes. Capitol removed five tracks ("Money", "You've Really Got A Hold On Me", "Devil In Her Heart", "Please Mister Postman", and "Roll Over Beethoven") and added both sides of the band's first American hit single ("I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "I Saw Her Standing There") and the British single's B-side, "This Boy". "I Saw Her Standing There" was on the Beatles' first British album Please Please Me. This resulted in Capitol releasing Meet the Beatles as a 12-track album with a duration of around 30 minutes, and made it comparable with other American pop albums. It also provided Capitol with unreleased tracks for use in later US Beatles albums such as The Beatles' Second Album.
Capitol also issued "duophonic" stereo releases of some recordings where the original master was monophonic. Capitol engineers split the single master monaural track into two, boosted the bass on the right channel, boosted treble on the left channel and added a split-second delay between channels to produce a "stereo" release. This Duophonic process meant that the Beatles' American fans heard a slightly different song from that heard by the rest of the world if they listened to the stereo version.
This trend in the Beatles' American discography continued until 1967 when a new recording contract with EMI was signed. Unhappy with the way Capitol in the US and other companies around the world were issuing their work in almost unrecognizable forms, beginning in 1967 the Beatles gained full approval of album titles and cover art, track listing and running order in North America. Starting with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles' albums were released unmodified. Issue of 45 RPM singles featuring album tracks was also stopped. Instead non-album tracks were issued as singles between album releases.
Modification of albums for American release continued with other bands:
The company also had a history of making mistakes with album releases; the American release of Klaatu's debut album 3:47 EST had several spelling errors on the track list, and later Capitol pressings of CD versions of Klaatu's albums suffered severe quality problems. The poor sound quality of Duran Duran's May 1982 release Rio (on Capitol subsidiary Harvest) contributed to the lag in initial sales, until a remixed version was released in November.
Designed by Welton Becket with Louis Naidorf, a young architect from Becket's office, serving as project designer the thirteen-story, earthquake-resistant Capitol Records Tower is the world's first circular office building. Home to several recording studios, it is one of Hollywood's most distinctive landmarks. Although not intended as a tribute to record players, its wide curved awnings and tall narrow tower mimic the appearance of a stack of gramophone records atop a phonograph. The building was commissioned by EMI after its acquisition of Capitol Records in 1955 and was completed in April 1956. The building north of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine and is the center of the company's consolidated West Coast operations. It was nicknamed "The House That Nat Built" after the financial success of Capitol singer Nat King Cole. The rectangular ground floor is a separate structure joined to the tower after it was completed.
In September 2006, EMI announced that it had sold the tower and adjacent properties for $50 million to New York-based developer Argent Ventures. In mid-2008, a controversy erupted over a plan to build a condominium complex next door, igniting fears that the building's acoustic properties, specifically its underground echo chambers, would be compromised. It was announced in November 2012 that Steve Barnett would become Chairman and CEO of Capitol Music Group and would be based at the Capitol Records Building. Capitol and artist Richard Wyatt Jr. restored his Hollywood Jazz Mural on the south wall of the Capitol Records building.
Capitol's recording studios were designed by guitarist and sound expert Les Paul to minimize noise and vibration, then newly important goals in the high-fidelity sound era. An inner wall floating on layers of rubber and cork was erected inside the building's 10-inch-thick (250 mm) concrete exterior walls, leaving a one-inch air gap to provide complete sound isolation. The facility also features subterranean echo chambers that allow engineers to add reverberation during the recording process. Eight trapezoidal chambers are located 30 feet (9.1 m) underground, with 10-inch concrete walls and 12-inch-thick (300 mm) concrete ceilings. Speakers on one side and microphones on the other permit an echo effect of up to five seconds. Studios A and B can be combined for the recording of orchestral music and symphonic film soundtracks. The first album recorded in the tower was Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color.
On July 1, 1942, Capitol Records released its first nine records:
Capitol Records of Canada was established in 1949 by independent businessman W. Lockwood Miller. Capitol Records broke with Miller's company and formed Capitol Record Distributors of Canada Limited in 1954. EMI acquired this company when it acquired Capitol Records. The company was renamed Capitol Records of Canada Ltd in 1958 after Miller's rights to the name expired. In 1959, Capitol of Canada picked up distribution rights for sister EMI labels Angel Records, Pathé Records, Odeon Records and Parlophone Records. In 1957, Paul White joined Capitol of Canada and in 1960 established an A&R department independent of the American company to promote talent for the Canadian market. They found homegrown Canadian talent such as Anne Murray as well as EMI artists from other countries. Canada-only issues bore 6000 series catalog numbers for LPs and 72000 series catalog numbers for singles. Capitol Canada issues of American Capitol recordings bore the same catalog numbers as their American counterparts. Beginning in 1962, Capitol of Canada issued albums by British artists such as Cliff Richard, Helen Shapiro and Frank Ifield. They accepted the Beatles long before the American company. By 1967, they were distributing non-EMI labels such as Disneyland Records, Buena Vista Records, 20th Century Fox Records and Pickwick Records. The company was renamed "Capitol Records-EMI of Canada" in 1974, before the "EMI Music Canada" name was adopted in 1993. The Canadian branch of Capitol won two Juno Awards in 1971, the leading music awards in that country. One Juno was for "Top Record Company" and the other was for "Top Promotional Company". In 1982, Capitol Records-EMI of Canada developed the "SDR", or Super Dynamic Range, process for duplicating cassettes, which resulted in higher-quality audio. SDR was adopted by Capitol's American operations later that year and renamed "XDR" (eXtended Dynamic Range). SDR/XDR cassette releases are noted for their use of a short burst of tones ascending in frequency at the beginning and end of the cassette, before and after the program material. EMI Music Canada was absorbed into Universal Music Canada which retained the Capitol imprint.
Beginning in 1948, Capitol Records were released in the UK on the Capitol label by Decca Records. After its 1955 acquisition of Capitol, EMI took over distribution in 1956. EMI's Parlophone unit handled Capitol label marketing in the UK in later years. In 2012, EMI was sold to Universal Music Group. The European Union forced EMI to spin off assets for antitrust reasons, including Parlophone. As a result, Universal Music launched Capitol as an autonomous label in the UK with the rights to the Beatles' recorded music catalog. This marks the first time that the Capitol label in the UK operated as an autonomous label.
Capitol Latin focuses on Latin music artists in Latin America and the United States. It was founded in 1989 as EMI Latin and was renamed to Capitol Latin in 2009. Capitol Latin was merged with Universal Music Latin Entertainment in 2013.
Capitol Music Taiwan was established in 2006. It is home to several megastar artists in the Chinese music industry. They include Jolin Tsai, Stefanie Sun, A-mei, Stanley Huang, and Show Lo. Even though artists are signed to this label, the albums are released under EMI Music Taiwan. The label had the highest sales among all labels in Taiwan between 2006 and 2008. In 2008, EMI Music Taiwan was acquired by Paco Wong's Gold Label Records and reformed as Gold Typhoon. The name is in reference to Jolin Tsai's Love Exercise released after the acquisition. However, the label of "Capitol Music Taiwan" is not part of Gold Typhoon.