Columbia Records by sefanit abbi and Gianna Burns Ferguson


Columbia Records is a famous record label that has given the world countless pieces of music and timeless artists due to its commitment to music, ability to record different genres, as well as allowing their artists to have creative freedom. 


History and Influence

Columbia Records was founded in Washington, D.C, in 1888 by Edward D. Easton.  It is American and is owned by Sony Music Entertainment.  Columbia originally released music through phonographs and phonograph cylinders.  This was until 1889 when Columbia first graphophone.  They also produced molded brown wax records as well as black wax records in 1903.  They then progressed to issuing records in 45 rmp format.  Though they were making a profit off the wax cylinders, they eventually stopped making them in 1908 due to an issue with the Indestructible Record Company.  They then moved to stereo in 1956.  A while after, they progressed to prerecorded records. 

Columbia Records was the first record company to produce prerecorded records, not vinyl.  In addition to the new records, they also began bringing opera singers onto the label to gain some traction.  These singers included Lillian Nordica and Marcella Sembrich.  They continued to expand in 1926 by acquiring Okeh Records and growing their jazz and blues genres.  This included artists like Louis Armstrong, Clarence Williams, and Bessie Smith.  Her first single, “Downhearted Blues”  sold hundreds of thousands of copies. This single alone helped Columbia Records out of a financial slump. Ultimately, Smith was one of the artists who propelled  “race records”, a market of music targeted to black audiences. Bessie Smith became one of the earliest stars of recorded music was also the highest-paid African American artist working in music during her time and the first African American superstar.


But they did not limit themselves to only jazz, blues, and opera.  They also had a very successful Hillbilly era that lasted a few years.  The company then tried to expand to gospel music, being the only record company to record Charles David Tillman.  They then had a pop stereo album in the summer of 1958. Columbia even had Duke Ellington on contract for several years.  Columbia records were then named the most successful non-rock record company in the 1950s.It is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business. This is why now they have some of the biggest celebrities signed with them, one of them being Beyonce.  Columbia records has evolved into a timeless record label that has generated thousands of hits since its conception. 

Prominent Artist

A prominent artist signed to Columbia Records is Beyonce. She is under both Columbia records as well as her own label. Beyonce released her first solo album “Dangerously in Love” under Columbia Records in 2003. For almost 20 years, Beyonce has been releasing music via Columbia Records, earning her six Grammy awards and countless nominations. Beyonce is one of the most successful people in the music industry and using a medium such as Columbia Records to release her music allows her to continue making great quality music that millions enjoy. Under Columbia Records, Beyonce released the following albums.

  • Lemonade (2016): 653,000 units earned.
  • Beyoncé (2013): 617,000 copies sold.
  • B’Day (2006): 541,000 copies sold.
  • I Am … Sasha Fierce (2008): 482,000 copies sold.
  • Renaissance (2022): 332,000 units earned.
  • Dangerously In Love (2003): 317,000 copies sold.

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