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Creator / Elektra Records

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Elektra Records is one of the main labels in the Warner Music Group (along with Warner (Bros.) Records, Atlantic Records and Parlophone Records). Over the years, it's been the home of major artists such as The Doors, Carly Simon, Queen and Metallica.

Elektra was founded as a small, independent Folk Music label by college student Jac Holzman in 1950. The company became a force on the folk scene, and also released a series of profitable sound effects albums, but by the mid-60s, Holzman was looking to expand into Rock & Roll. He signed Blues Rockers The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, then followed up with Love, who in turn recommended The Doors. From then on, Elektra established itself as one of the major names in the Psychedelic Rock field; they also helped launch Punk Rock by signing two of Ann Arbor's finest, MC5 and The Stooges, as well as former Velvet Underground member Nico. While these Proto Punk artists' albums initially flopped, they would later be recognized as classics. On the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Elektra's roster included soft rockers Bread and Singer Songwriters like Carly Simon, Harry Chapin and Tim Buckley.


By 1970, Elektra was successful enough that Kinney Corporation (then the corporate parent to Warner Bros.) bought the company, launching what is now known as the Warner Music Group. In 1972, Holzman left Elektra and turned it over to David Geffen, who merged it with his Asylum label (home of Jackson Browne, Eagles, Joni Mitchell, and Linda Ronstadt, among others).

With the rise of Punk Rock and New Wave Music, change was once again in the air in the late '70s and Elektra responded accordingly, signing The Cars, Television, and (a few years later) X. In the 1980s and early '90s, the label was yet again on the cutting edge as an outlet for the burgeoning Alternative Rock genre, signing acts like Kyuss, Phish, 10,000 Maniacs, They Might Be Giants and Violent Femmes. They also made US-only deals with The Afghan Whigs, Billy Bragg, The Cure, Happy Mondays, The Pixies, Public Image Ltd. and The Sisters of Mercy, as well as The Sugarcubes, which paid off when singer Björk underwent a Breakup Breakout. The label entered the fields of Country Music (Conway Twitty, Hank Williams, Jr.), Hip-Hop (Busta Rhymes, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Cee Lo Green, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five), and Heavy Metal (Dokken, Metallica, Mötley Crüe).


By The '90s, Elektra was underperforming and some of its roster was unhappy. Metallica, one of the biggest artists on their roster, sued the label to terminate their contract, claiming the label was shorting them on royalties. Although that suit was settled, it was a sign of things to come for artist relations at Elektra. Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs accused the label of ignoring and underpromoting his band, and singer-songwriter Jason Falkner coined the term "Neglektra" to describe his feelings about the label. They Might Be Giants quit Elektra in 1996, when the label booked an unscheduled, last-minute concert during their tour in Japan, which they refused to play.

The label struggled in the early 2000s, despite some success with artists like Jason Mraz and Staind. In 2004, Elektra was merged with Atlantic Records and the label went dormant. Most of its performers were moved to other WMG labels, while some left the company entirely.

Elektra was reactivated by Warner in 2009; its latter-day roster includes Bruno Mars (who quickly moved to Atlantic), Zac Brown Band, Little Boots, Christina Perri, Marina & the Diamonds and Ed Sheeran. In June 2018, WMG announced that Elektra would become a frontline label again, separate from Atlantic, with Fueled by Ramen and Roadrunner Records moving into Elektra Music Group's umbrella.

Elektra artists, past and present, with TV Tropes pages:

* US & Canada only
** Originally on Asylum, transferred to Elektra when Asylum went dormant


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