Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the United States division of Sony Corporation. It was founded in 1887 from an earlier enterprise named the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company.[1]

One Direction signed a record deal with Columbia Records in November 2011. While rumors of Harry Styles signing an $80 million solo record deal with Columbia in 2016 went unconfirmed, Styles did ultimately release his debut solo music through the label.


Founded in 1887, evolving from earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia's recordings were released outside the US by CBS Records label before adopting the Columbia name internationally in 1990. It is one of Sony Music's three flagship record labels, alongside RCA Records and Epic Records.

Artists currently signed to Columbia Records include Adele, Beyoncé, Calvin Harris, Celine Dion, Daft Punk, Ella Henderson, James Arthur, J. Cole, Juicy J, Little Mix, One Direction, Pharrell Williams, Rachel Platten and the Glee and Empire casts.[2]

In 2012, Columbia Records had the highest label share on adult contemporary radio in the US, and was ranked as the number-one adult contemporary label that year.

Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, being the second major company to produce recorded records.[3]

Relationship with One Direction

Upon signing One Direction in 2011, co-chairman Steve Barnett stated "I just thought there was a void, and maybe they could seize and hold it."

The label took an unconventional approach to marketing One Direction to a US audience, deciding on a four month social media campaign to begin with, rather than the usual routine of single releases and live shows first. The campaign worked, boosting One Direction's online presence and helping "What Makes You Beautiful's" sales numbers rise before it hit radio.[4]

In February 2017, Columbia CEO Rob Stringer confirmed the label would release Harry Styles debut solo album. On April 7, Styles debut single "Sign of the Times" was released, with Columbia licensing the single from Harry's own label Erskine Records. On May 12, Styles self titled debut album was released and reached #1 in 20 countries.


  1. The Columbia Graphophone and Grafonola -- a beginner's guide
  2. Columbia Artists
  3. "Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry: The Gramophone"
  4. Boy Bands Are Back
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