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Creator / Atlantic Records

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Atlantic Records is one of the flagship labels of Warner Music Group (along with Warner (Bros.) Records, Elektra Records, and Parlophone Records). It was founded in 1947 by Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson as an independent label; they were later joined by Jerry Wexler, a producer who is credited with coining the term R&B. The label has produced many significant R&B, Soul, and Rock N Roll records while also having ventured in Hip-Hop in the 21st century.

The label originally started with a focus on modern jazz and a few country records though they found more success by the early 50s by releasing rhythm and blues with recording artists such as Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner and Ray Charles. Between 1953 to 1955, there began a trend when pop artists would cover R&B records, though in a smoother and less risqué style which was noted by Ertegun and Wexler. These covers would emerge as the beginning of rock n' roll. Atlantic attempted to buy Elvis Presley’s contract from Sun Records. It paid $25,000 for the contract (Ertegun was quoted as saying that was the label's entire income at the time) but were outbid by RCA Records, who bid $45,000.

Atlantic's first LP, released in March 1949, was This Is My Beloved, an album containing poetry by Walter Benton, which was narrated by John Dall, with music by Vernon Duke. As the format began to become more popular in the mid-50s, Atlantic fared better than other independent labels as they were able to make higher quality albums than even the major labels, something which required a lot of investment. They were also one of the first labels to record on stereo; they even released a binaural album back in 1953 using Emory Cook's two-needle system, five years before the introduction of the 45/45 system used to this day. By the late 1950's, Atlantic was doing so well commercially that white audiences began to buy the actual Atlantic records rather than buying just covers of them. They would also distribute records from smaller labels including a licensing deal with Stax Records which provided Atlantic with a significant amount of commercial success during the 60s by which point there was a significant focus on Soul music.

By 1967, Wexler became concerned with how other independent labels were starting to fold despite Atlantic and Stax’s success. Thus he convinced enough investors to sell Atlantic to Warner Bros.-Seven Arts (as the company was then known) for $17.5 million. The deal would result in the end of the distribution deal with Stax in 1968, though Warner still maintains rights over records recorded during Stax’s time with Atlantic. This also marked the period when the label started to put more emphasis on rock artists, many of whom would reach significant commercial success. Many of these were British performers; some of them were licensed from British labels for the US and Canada onlynote , while others were signed to Atlantic worldwide (Led Zeppelin, Yes, Foreigner). Atlantic's subsidiary Atco Records additionally became increasingly prominent during The '60s; see their entry for more details.

Atlantic Records had owned a 50 percent stake in Interscope Records which launched in 1990. They sold their shares to MCA (later known as Universal Records) after many activist groups complained about many of the gangsta rap albums released through Interscope, including ones released in conjunction with Death Row Records. After the sales of the Warner Music Group to a group of investors in 2004, Atlantic was merged with Elektra Records. Despite this, the Atlantic brand continues to operate separately from that of Elektra (with the two formally separating in 2018), and it continues to be a major label to this day: they were the first major to have more than half of their sales from digital products, though they still maintain strong Compact Disc sales compared to other record labels.

Atlantic Records performers, past and present, with TV Tropes pages:

* US and Canada only