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Phonogram Incorporated was started in 1970 as a successor to Philips Phonographic Industries, a unit of the Grammophon-Philips Group (GPG), a joint venture of Philips N.V. of the Netherlands and Siemens A.G. of Germany.
|Founder||Philips Records and Deutsche Grammophon|
|Headquarters||Netherlands, France, Germany, United States, United Kingdom.|
Phonogram was the name of a parent company that owned and or distributed many different record labels. Phonogram was never a record label as such, but a holding company for labels which included Phillips, Fontana, Vertigo and Mercury.
In 1972 Grammophon-Philips Group was reorganized as The PolyGram Group. Following PolyGram's acquisition of Mercury in the United States, the corporate name was changed from Mercury Record Productions, Inc., to Phonogram, Inc. In the U.S. Phonogram artists were generally released on Mercury Records, but the label is independent from its U.K. counterpart. By 1982, Mercury and all other PolyGram owned labels including, RSO, Polydor, Total Experience and Casablanca carried the following wording "Manufactured And Marketed by PolyGram Records" with the PolyGram Records logo.
In the United Kingdom, Phonogram was the holding company for Philips Records, which had started in 1953 and had also launched the Fontana label in 1958. As well as producing their own recordings many of which became U.K. hits, Philips/Fontana licensed the rights from Columbia Records (U.S.) to release and distribute their product from 1953 until the end of 1964. After that time, Columbia U.S. set up their own marketing and production unit in the UK in Theobalds Road, London, having acquired Oriole Records and its record-pressing plant that had prospered in manufacturing discs for U.K. budget labels including Embassy, sold through Woolworths. U.S. Columbia was unable to use the "Columbia" trademark outside the United States and Canada as it had already been copyrighted overseas by EMI. Therefore U.S. Columbia product was released in most territories on the CBS record label.
Releases in Europe were issued by Vertigo and Philips and carried the "Marketed by Phonogram" wording with the Phonogram logo. Phonogram also licensed recordings from small U.S. record labels for European release. Among these were Avco, Sire, Janus, Westbound, All Platinum, and Chess.
In 1997, all PolyGram units still using the Phonogram name were renamed Mercury Records. By that time, Mercury had become PolyGram's flagship label. PolyGram continued until 1998, when the company was purchased by Seagram and merged with Universal Music Group, now owned by Vivendi. Philips Records UK and Phonogram UK still have their own websites.