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With roots stretching right back to the very beginnings of recorded sound and being the company that invented stereo recording, EMI has stayed at the forefront of technological change in the industry. When digital music took off in the 1990s, EMI was well placed to capitalise on the trend.

EMI’s first websites went live in 1993 and 1994 and in 1998 EMI streamed the first complete album over the internet, ‘Mezzanine by Massive Attack. The following year EMI was the first company to release a digital album download, David Bowie‘s ‘…Hours‘ and in 2001 EMI launched the first internet video single, ‘Dig In’ by Lenny Kravitz.

In 2007 EMI became the first major music company to make its music available without digital rights management (DRM) software and at a much higher sound quality than before. Today, in addition to EMI’s strong presence in physical music outlets, EMI’s music is available to purchase and enjoy digitally through hundreds of retailers and services around the world.

One of the decade’s defining acts signed to EMI’s Parlophone label in 1999, releasing their first album in July 2000. As soon as ‘Parachutes‘ came out, Coldplay – Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion – were clearly a band to pay attention to. ‘Parachutes’ debuted at number one in the UK album chart and today Coldplay are the biggest band in the world. ‘Parachutes’ was nominated for the UK’s prestigious Mercury Music Prize and in 2002 won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

The follow-up, ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head‘, was an even bigger hit and 2005′s ‘X&Y’ was the biggest selling album of the year worldwide. They repeated this feat in 2008 when their next album, ‘Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends‘, sold nearly seven million copies, more than any other album in the world that year. Their record breaking success continued the following year, 2009, when Coldplay became the first recording artists to sell more than one million digital albums in the US and two million worldwide.

Robbie Williams continued his reign as the most popular UK solo artist around the world, a remarkable run of success recognised in February 2010 when he was presented with the Outstanding Contribution To Music award at the Brits 2010. Other EMI artists building on their international success in the decade include Depeche Mode, Kylie Minogue, Massive Attack and Pet Shop Boys.

Popular and successful new acts broken by EMI in the last 10 years include artists such as Lily Allen, Bat For Lashes, Corinne Bailey Rae, Eliza Doolittle, David Guetta, Norah Jones, Lady Antebellum, Katy Perry, Darius Rucker, 30 Seconds To Mars, Tinie Tempah, KT Tunstall, Keith Urban and the world’s most successful virtual band, the Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett-inspired Gorillaz.

Other developments for EMI since 2000 include the outsourcing of CD manufacturing and distribution operations, the acquisition in 2002 of seminal independent label Mute, home to artists such as Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, and, in 2006, the acquisition of the 45% stake in Japanese label Toshiba-EMI held by Toshiba Corporation, bringing EMI’s ownership of the company to 100%. The company now operates as EMI Music Japan. In September 2010 EMI Music and Mute founder Daniel Miller reached an agreement that saw EMI support Miller in the establishment of his second record label, and the continuation of the Mute brand as an independent recorded music business.

In May 2007 leading UK private equity firm Terra Firma announced details of a recommended offer for the shares of EMI and assumed control of the company in August 2007. In February 2011 EMI was acquired by Citigroup who undertook a successful recapitalization of the company.

In 2011 EMI Music launched OpenEMI to engage directly with the tech developer community around the world which includes creating a platform with The Echo Nest for developers to access EMI Music tracks and content to create innovative and exciting new apps and digital music concepts for EMI’s artists.

As always, EMI continues to be a thoroughly international business. The company’s management is multinational, overseeing a business that operates right around the world. In recent years, as well as releasing music from Anglo-American artists such as Norah Jones, Coldplay, Lily Allen, and Katy Perry, EMI has issued top selling albums by artists such as Hikaru Utada from Japan; Herbert Grönemeyer and Wir Sind Helden from Germany; Daft Punk, Air, Renaud, Raphael and Cali from France; Bebe from Spain; Mariza from Portugal; RBD and Belinda from Mexico; Marisa Monte from Brazil; and Vasco Rossi and Tiziano Ferro from Italy, to name but a few.

EMI is a business solely focused on music, tracing its history to the very beginnings of recording. Our artists and catalogue are world class and we continue to be a leader in facilitating the creative and commercial success of our artists and songwriters around the globe.

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Useful links

EMI websites

EMI Music Sound Foundation

EMI Group Archive Trust