E.O.A.A WEEKLY: Friday, November 28, 2014, Written by Tiwanda ‘Ne Ne’ Lovelace
These were some of the same people who shortly after profiting, began transferring me back and forth over the phone (keeping me on speakerphone) while rejoicing, mocking and laughing about Zomba being Number 1.
Moving On Up The Line
I was signed to Zomba in 1993 and I think I have an idea of
what was meant by ‘ethical disagreement.
In the late nineties, Jive expanded its success to include teen pop
companies (now a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment)
with Clive Calder in the 1970s. In the mid-90s, he was
Executive Vice President of Capitol Records and Blue Note
Records in Hollywood and started EMI Music’s global New
Zomba and Jive because of their lack of
response to my request as to how BMG, MCA,
EMI, WEA, Polygram and Jive have released
songs which blatantly infringe upon my
copyrights. I submitted these lyrics and
melodies to Zomba.
it is easy to see how moving employees back
and forth from BMG, MCA, EMI, WEA, Polygram
and Jive may have gained access to songs
which blatantly infringe upon my copyrights. I
sent these lyrics to Zomba; which they deny receiving.
Conveniently their denials were received in
envelopes marked ‘Comics’.
DOES THIS SOUND LIKE A GAME TO YOU?
Zomba Group of Companies
|Zomba Label Group|
|Parent company||Sony Music Entertainment|
|Founder||Clive Calder, Ralph Simon|
|Distributor(s)||Sony Music Entertainment|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Location||London, EnglandNew York, NYNashville, TN|
|Official website||Zomba Label Group.com|
South African Roots: Calder, Simon and Lange
In late 1971, Clive Calder and Ralph Simon began their two-decade partnership in forming businesses in record production and promotion, music publishing, artist management and concert promotion in South Africa. Because of the market in South Africa, there was a need to branch out into various aspects of the business, instead of just focusing on one aspect of the industry. “You couldn’t do just one thing. It was too small,” explained David Gresham, CEO of David Gresham Record Company. “This is not a country where you have a million-seller. A No. 1 record is a 10,000 unit seller. That only pays the rent for a month or two.” While almost mandatory in South Africa, this early style of music company would be adapted to other markets throughout the companies history, and would become a staple of Calder’s managing legacy.
Early companies formed by Calder and Simon were Sagittarius Management and Clive Calder Productions (CCP). CCP was distributed by EMI Records South Africa who purchased the company in 1972. Although Calder has no stake in it now, it still exists as a wholly owned subsidiary of EMI, specializing in the recording, development and marketing of domestic artists. Calder’s relationship with EMI began when he had been an A&R Manager at EMI South Africa for eighteen months. There he had signed some big groups for the time such as Freedom’s Children and the Otis Waygood Blues Band. During this time, Calder was also a bassist in a few bands. He formed the Four Dukes and the In Crowd with EMI artist Peter Vee, whom he also produced. Calder eventually paired Lee with a young producer named Mutt Lange, who began producing songs for Calder at CCP, including the local hit “Sunday Monday Tuesday” by Jessica Jones.
Zomba in London
The trio of Calder, Simon and Lange decided in 1974 that they had to get out of South Africa. “We were politically very much opposed to the old apartheid regime” says Simon. They pooled together what little money they had and moved to London. Having landed right in the middle of the British punk rock movement, they felt their experience would not be best utilized in marketing and promotion in such a different context. Instead, they opted to create a publishing company and Zomba Corporation was officially registered in Switzerland in 1975, operating out of Calder’s bedroom space in London. The name “Zomba” referred to the capital of African country Malawi (Lilongwe superseded Zomba as Malawi’s capital in 1974).
Next, Calder and Simon began looking for songwriters. The first was Henri Belolo, the French producer who helped create the Village People. Zomba became the disco group’s British publisher. Though the band had been turned down by a few UK labels, Calder and Simon thought they could retain the most control of Zomba if they stayed in the publishing and management business, allowing other labels to release their artists’ music. Meanwhile, Lange was building a name for himself as a producer, with albums by theBoomtown Rats, Graham Parker and eventually AC/DC’s 1979 Highway to Hell, his breakthrough album. This led to Lange becoming one of the world’s leading hard-rock producers, later adding Def Leppard, Foreigner and Bryan Adams to his resume. For Zomba, this meant increased exposure and credibility leading to many new producer and songwriter management deals. Additionally, artists would sign publishing deals, giving their publishing company a constantly burgeoning collection.
In early 1978, Zomba opened offices in New York City and began looking for more artists and songwriters. Clive Davis was one of the first to contact the group, who used his recently formed Arista Records to distribute Zomba artists. The first major signing was Billy Ocean. Over the next few years, Zomba’s songwriters hit it big and the publishing profits kicked in, marking the beginning of the company’s first major expansion into record labels. Though Davis wanted Calder to head his West Coast A&R operations, Calder had a different plans altogether, and instead presented Jive Records to Davis.
Jive: taking a chance with rap
Arista had been having trouble pushing rock acts in the US, and Clive Davis had hoped that with Zomba’s Mutt Lange connection, Jive would fill that role. However, Calder had other ideas. In 1981, Jive began operations by releasing British dance and pop music such as Q-Feel, A Flock of Seagulls and Tight Fit. By 1982, Calder was introduced to a young fresh college graduate named Barry Weiss who, for his job interview with Zomba, took Calder out to hip-hop and black clubs all over New York City. Calder was immediately impressed with the man and had him scanning sales data all over the country searching for unknown acts on small labels selling large numbers. Calder got one of his songwriters Thomas Dolby to create a catchy hook for a local DJ Mr. Magic to rap over. Mr. Magic had to cancel at the last minute, but fortunately he knew another rapper, Jalil Hutchins. Weiss’s stress level shot up when Hutchins came to the session with another unknown rapper named Ecstasy and no rhymes. After two days, the group created and recorded “Magic’s Wand” which turned into a hit single. Weiss named the group Houdini, but Calder changed it to Whodini. Calder flew the group to London to record an album, then to Germany to record with producer Konrad “Conny” Plank of Devo and Ultravox fame. While the group would eventually leave Jive after a few albums, the early success resulted in Jive becoming a label with a focus on hip-hop artists throughout eighties. At a time when the record establishment wouldn’t touch “ghetto” music like rap, a white South African successfully marketed some of the edgiest black music.
After Whodini, Jive began signing other rap artists into the later half of the decade. Boogie Down Productions was signed on the strength of their first record Criminal Minded, and their Jive debut By All Means Necessary was released in 1988. Young West Coast rapper Too Short was picked up by Jive after his independently released Born to Mack sold over 50,000 copies. Jive gave the album national distribution which led to gold status, and then quickly issued his follow up Life Is…Too Short which achieved platinum status.Meanwhile, Jive signed DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince in 1986 and released their debut Rock the House. The duo was a great success for Jive, helping make rap more accessible.
Jive continued supporting rap artists into the nineties. Most of the aforementioned groups continued on Jive into the next decade. KRS-One, the primary force behind Boogie Down Productions, released a string solo albums with Jive beginning with Return of the Boom Bap in 1993. In 1991, Jive signed R&B artist R. Kelly who, along with his backing band Public Announcement, released their debut Born into the 90’s in early 1992. R. Kelly’s began his solo career with 12 Play in 1993 and continues to release with Jive today. A Tribe Called Quest was signed by Jive in 1989 following a successful independently released single “Description of a Fool.” Their debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm was released by Jive in 1990 and framed the group as one of the most intelligent rap groups. Many other rap and R&B artists were signed throughout the eighties and nineties before the teen-pop explosion in the later half of the decade.
By 1990, Zomba was worth $225 million with over fifty companies. Contrary to most other record businesses at the time, Zomba spared no time with frills. “The Jive offices were crummy, cardboard desks. They just really did everything on the cheap”, says attorney Gary Stiffelman. The company began to attract more major label attention when EMI attempted to buy the company, but was ultimately turned down. This period also saw Ralph Simon leaving Zomba at the start of the decade. Through an unspecified “ethical disagreement”, Calder and Simon ended their relationship of over two decades. Calder bought out Simon’s half of the company and subsequently gained full control of the company. In late 1991, BMG furthered its relationship with Zomba buy purchasing a 25% stake in their music publishing business, allowing them to sub-publish Zomba compositions in foreign markets. BMG continued with a 20% purchase of Zomba’s records division in 1996.
Building on the successes of the Jive label, Zomba began expanding its reach by purchasing and creating new labels, and by creating new divisions that helped expose more people to Zomba artists and services. In 1988, Andrew Lauder formed the UK-based Silvertone Records under the Zomba Group. While Jive focused on hip hop, Silvertone focused on more rock-oriented music. The label’s roster was initially bolstered by The Stone Roses, but quickly expanded to include blues, acoustic, and roots music.
Teen Pop explosionAround 1993, Clive Calder began his uneasy relationship with Lou Pearlman. Pearlman had put together a new group, Backstreet Boys, which was languishing on Mercurywithout any hits.
Initially, BMG took its time in integrating Zomba with the rest of its labels, hoping that the former independent would lift BMGs worldwide rank from fifth to fourth-largest record company. Calder resigned his position as CEO immediately after the purchase, but stayed on in an advisory position for about another year. In mid-2003, BMG began its worldwide integration of Zomba cutting hundreds of jobs through the consolidation of regional operations. While many of the key managers stayed, and the large offices in the US and the UK remained operational, all of the other regional offices were assimilated into BMG. In addition to the regional mergers, the Zomba and BMG publishing companies were integrated. The US and UK offices remained as stand-alone units, but many of the back-office functions were consolidated into BMG. The Provident Music Group, Zomba’s foray into the Christian music market, was reassigned as a RCA sub-label. By 2004, the record labels were reorganized under the Zomba Label Group.
In 2004, BMG and Sony Music Entertainment merged to form Sony BMG Music Entertainment taking Zomba with it. Though the merger was plagued with controversy and eventually ended with Sony buying out BMG’s stake in late 2008, Zomba executives continued to expand the company’s operations in various aspects. In 2007, as part of Sony BMG integration and consolidation, RCA Music Group and Zomba Label Group merged their international, sales and field staffs to form the BMG Label Group under Sony BMG. RCA and Zomba kept separate groups under BMG, but this configuration was short-lived due to the dissolution of the Sony BMG merger. Zomba is currently owned wholly by, and operates under Sony.
On 2 November 2004 the American Federation of Musicians announced that it had entered into an agreement with Zomba. Effective 1 January 2005, the labor union covered all artists on any Zomba subsidiary labels (and any future labels) under the Federation’s Sound Recording Labor Agreement. The deal ensured that all artists under the Zomba aegis would receive, for the first time, a full range of benefits and protections, among which are scale payments, industry standard working conditions and pension contributions.
In 2005, Zomba formed Zomba Gospel under the Zomba Label Group in an effort to collate its recently expanding gospel labels. Zomba’s interest in gospel began in the form of a distribution deal with GospoCentric Records (and sublabel B’Rite Music) in October 2001, which Zomba later purchased in 2004. Verity Records president Max Siegel was charged with heading the new entity which included Zomba labels Verity and GospoCentric, as well as four artist owned imprints: Quiet Water Entertainment (Donald Lawrence), Fo Yo Soul Entertainment (Kirk Franklin), New Life Records (John P. Kee) and F. Hammond Music (Fred Hammond). Distribution was handled by Provident-Integrity for the Christian Bookselling Association, and through Sony Distribution (formerly Sony BMG) for the mainstream market.
Zomba’s publishing division also continued its expansion. In 2006, Zomba Music Publishing purchased the catalogue of the UK-based Strongsongs Music Publishing from the Telstar Music Group. This large acquisition gave expanded Zomba’s rights to many international hitmakers to include Metallica, Craig David and Dannii Minogue among others. Beginning with the appointment of David Mantel in 2005 as the head of Zomba Music Publishing US operations, the company began to take a different signing approach that focused on unknown or unsigned artists. Mantel’s first signing was T-Pain, whose two singles “I’m Sprung” and “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)” hit number 8 and 5 respectively on the Billboard Hot 100. This type of signing was also used in the records division were artists or producers were given their own imprint. In October 2008, Zomba made an all-inclusive multiyear joint-venture deal with Hitz Committee Entertainment, and imprint in the making for almost 5 years by Jive A&R VP Micky “MeMpHiTz” Wright. Beginning in 2008, Hitz Committee consists of a record label under Sony, music production, music publishing, artist and producer management, and TV and film projects.
Company structureFor a list of all companies associated with Zomba see: List of Zomba Group companiesThe structure of the Zomba Group during the independent era (1975 to 2002) is difficult to pinpoint exactly due to the private nature of Clive Calder’s managing style. During that period, Calder’s private investment group Summer Shore NV controlled the Zomba group. The company began as Zomba Management and Publishers as early as 1975. They expanded to the US, first with a publishing sector in 1978, then a records division in 1981 while the management and publishing divisions became separate companies. Also sometime during that period, they started a production division initially called Zomba Productions Ltd., which would become Zomba Recording Corporation. From a legal standpoint, Zomba’s holdings are divided into their music publishing business (Zomba Music Holdings BV) and music recording business (Zomba Record Holdings BV).The former holds only music publishing (i.e., written music) rights, while the latter holds all of the recorded music rights, along with some publishing groups acquired over the years. In addition to those two, there is another holding company called Zomba Entertainment Holdings BV. Below is a breakdown of most of the companies and divisions that have been owned by Zomba. Since the BMG integration in mid-2003, and further integration into Sony Music in early 2009, the exact status of some companies is not known. As much detail has been provided to illustrate the current status of these companies.
Records divisionZomba labels were operated under the Zomba Label Group from approximately 2004 until 2009 (now part of the RCA/Jive Label Group. The Provident Label Groupcontained other labels after its purchase in 1997, but is no longer a part of Zomba. The Windsong purchase gave Zomba control of labels through a variety of company structures including Pinnacle and Rough Trade, however, some of these labels are no longer a part of Zomba. These three groups are organized separately below, followed by a list of inactive or formerly owned labels from various periods.Zomba’s first, and flagship label is Jive, formed in 1981. Since then, Zomba has acquired and created a variety of labels and label groups that either operate independent from, or under Jive. During its independent period, the various record labels under Zomba all reported directly to a records division.
Battery Studios is the name of Zomba Recording Corporation’s chain of multi-room facilities often used in the production of Zomba artists. The main facility, located in New York City, is constantly associated with high profile clients including R. Kelly, ‘N Sync and Britney Spears. The studio features three recording and mixing studios with SSL 9000, SSL 4064 G+ and Euphonix CS3000 consoles and Pro Tools MIXplus systems. Battery Studios was originally opened in London before the New York branch existed, and at one point consisted of six locations in London, four New York locations, two Nashville locations, and one location in Chicago. However, Zomba closed its London branches towards the end of 2001 and the others followed soon after leaving only an unknown number of New York locations. In addition to Battery studios, Zomba Recording Corporation began a relationship with the established Swedish studio Cheiron Studios and its production personnel. The studio had operated since the mid eighties (as SweMix), and from 1996 until its closure in 2000 it shared a joint production and publishing venture with the Zomba Group. Apart from the actual studio, the venture included a production team that helped forge the sounds of Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and ‘N Sync.
In addition to recording studios, Zomba Recording Corporation operated Dreamhire Professional audio Rentals. Dreamhire opened in 1984 with operations in London,New York City (1989) and Nashville (1988). The London branch closed in 2001 followed by Nashville in 2003. Dreamhire also included Hilton Sound, a hire operation purchased by Zomba in 1996. Since November 2003 following the BMG purchase, Dreamhire is no longer a part of Zomba and runs independently as Dreamhire LLC from one location in New York City, owned by Chris Dunn, ex-bass guitarist from UK band (City Boy (band)) which recorded 5 albums all produced by Mutt Lange.
Zomba Label Group
During its existence, the Zomba Label Group featured all of the Zomba-related labels that BMG purchased in 2002. The current Battery Records is unrelated to the previous defunct imprint of the same name. Listed below is the structure of the Zomba Label Group immediately before its rebranding and dissolution in 2009.
- Battery Records
- Jive Records
- LaFace Records
- Silvertone Records
- So So Def Recordings
- Volcano Entertainment
- Verity Gospel Music Group (previously Zomba Gospel)
Provident Music Group
- Benson Records
- Essential Records
- Flicker Records
- Reunion Records
- Verity Records
Windsong (Pinnacle, Rough Trade, Music For Nations)
- Collins Classics – Opened in 1989, closed in 1998.
- Connoisseur Collection – Released high quality, mid price compilation.
- Music For Nations – Metal/hard-rock label that closed in 2004.
- Pinnacle Entertainment – Entertainment group largely known for being the largest UK distributor of independent record labels.
- Rough Trade (80% of Rough Trade Records Germany/Switzerland/Austria and 100% of Rough Trade Benelux) – German distributor and label group.
- Windsong Exports – Exporter of music and film/TV.
- Windsong In Concert – Windsong’s collection of “BBC In Concert” recordings.
- Form & Function
- Our Choice
- Reihe Ego
- Rough Trade
- World Service
Zomba International Records Group
|Zomba Records Australia Pty. Ltd.||24 May 1999||Sony Australia||Sydney, Australia||Scott Murphy (March 1999 – Feb. 2001)Paul Paoliello (1 March 2001 – ?)|
|Zomba Records (Canada) Inc.||1 July 1999||BMG Canada||Toronto||Laura Bartlett|
|Zomba Records APRO Pty Ltd.(also called Zomba Records Singapore)||1 July 1999||BMG Singapore||Singapore||Julius Ng|
|Zomba Records GmbH (Germany)||8 July 1999||Zomba Distribution||Köln, Germany|
|Zomba Records GesmbH||8 July 1999||Zomba Distribution||Vienna, Austria|
|Zomba Records GmbH (Switzerland)||8 July 1999||Zomba Distribution||Zürich, Switzerland|
|Zomba Records Benelux||8 July 1999||Zomba Distribution||Hilversum, Netherlands||Bert Meyer (1999–2003)|
|Zomba Records France SARL||1 October 1999||Virgin||Paris, France|
|Zomba Records Scandinavia AB||1999||Virgin||Stockholm, Sweden||Bert Meyer (1999-??)Magnus Bohman (main office, 2000–2001)Kenneth Ruiz-Davila (Norway, 2000–2001; GM of region after 2001-09-03)|
|Zomba Record Holdings BV||1999||Zomba Distribution||Brussels, Belgium||Thierry Thielemens|
|Zomba Records New Zealand Ltd.||1 July 2000||BMG New Zealand||Auckland, New Zealand||Morrie Smith|
|Zomba Records Korea Ltd.||1 July 2000||Rock Records||Seoul, Korea||Chang-Hak Lee|
|Zomba Records Espana SA||1 July 2000||Virgin||Madrid, Spain||Andres Ochaita|
|Zomba Records Italy SRL||1 July 2000||Virgin||Milan, Italy||Roberto Biglia|
|Zomba Records Japan KK||1 October 2000||Alfa Records(First)Avex (Second)||Tokyo, Japan||Tak Kitazawa|
|Zomba Records Portugal||1 July 2001||Valentim de Carvalho||Lisbon, Portugal||Andres Ochaita|
|Zomba Records Brasil Ltda.||1 July 2001||Som Livre||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||Martin Davis|
- : Distribution information in this chart is from approximately 1999 until the BMG integration.
- : Zomba Records in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Benelux had been in operation as Rough Trade since Zomba had acquired the company in 1996. 8 July 1999 marks the date the Rough Trade name was dropped in favour of Zomba.
- : The Scandinavian operations started with offices in Norway and Denmark. When Kenneth Ruiz-Davila was appointed the head of Zomba Scandinavia in September 2001, the Swedish offices were also moved under the larger company. The Denmark and Norway operations later closed on 1 July 2002, leaving the Swedish office remaining.
Other inactive/former labels
- Associated Production Music (APM) – Production music library and music services company. Was initially a joint venture between Zomba/Jive and EMI. Still Currently operating under unknown ownership.
- Conifer Records Ltd. – Classical label formed in 1977, purchased by Zomba in 1992 and sold to BMG in 1996.
- Internal Affairs
- Trademark Records – Formed under Zomba Records Australia.
- X-Over Recordings – Formed under Zomba Records Australia.
- Zed Beat
- Zomba Production Music – UK-based supplier of Library and Production Music intended for professional use and not released to the general public. They released music through these various sublabels. Not to be confused with Zomba Productions Ltd. which is an earlier name of Zomba Recording Corporation.
- Chappell Recording Music Library
- Bruton Music – Label of the Bruton Music Group purchased by Zomba in 1985.
- Firstcom Music Inc.
- Connect 2 Music
- Zomba Special Projects – Imprint established in 1997 for specific projects like releases sold through McDonald’s restaurants.
- Zomba Video – Imprint used for music-related video releases.
- Under Jive
- Battery Records – Unrelated to the current Battery Records, this was a dance label active in the nineties.
- Dance Jive – Dance label active in the early 2000s.
- EBUL – Record label owned by Pete Waterman Entertainment Ltd. and Jive. The label was largely used to release material by Steps.
- Jive Afrika – Created in 1984 for release of South African material (most prominently, Hugh Masekela).
- Jive House – Formed in the mid-nineties for house music.
- Pepper Records – Formed in the late nineties.
- Violator Records – Purchased by Jive in 2003. New York hip-hop label run by Chris Lighty and Mona Scott.
- Worx Records – Formed in the mid nineties for electronic music.
- Bluey Tunes Productions Ltd. (England)
- Brentwood Music Inc.
- Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing Inc.
- Bruton Music Ltd.
- Firstcom Music Inc. (USA)
- Firstcommusic Inc. (USA)
- Grantsville Publishing Ltd. (England)
- Grever International S.A. (Texas)
- Marlowlynn Ltd. (England)
- M56 Publishing Ltd. (England)
- Street Music Ltd. (England)
- Take Out Music Publishing Ltd. (England)
- Zomba Enterprises Inc.
- Zomba Golden Sands Enterprises, Inc.
- Zomba Melodies Inc. (New York)
- Zomba Music Inc. (New York)
- Zomba Music Publishers Ltd. (England)
- Zomba Silver Sands Enterprises Inc. (Texas)
- Zomba Songs Inc. (New York)
- Cohen, Jane; Bob Grossweiner (6 July 2007). “Industry Profile: Ralph Simon”. CelebrityAccess.com. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
- Knopper, Steve (2009). Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. New York: Free Press. (primarily Chapter 3)
- Pederson, Jay (2003). International Directory of Company Histories 52. New York: St. James Press. ISBN 978-1-55862-482-5. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
- Scott, Ajax (August 1996). “Clive Calder”. Music Business International 6 (4).
- White, Timothy (5 May 2001). “Billboard: The International Newsweekly of Music, Video, and Home Entertainment”. Billboard 113 (18). (this issue features a “Special Report” with multiple articles about Zomba)