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Sony Music Entertainment (commonly referred to as Sony Music) is an American global music company, which is part of the Sony Music Group owned by conglomerate Sony Corporation of America, incorporated as a general partnership of Sony Music Holdings Inc. through Sony Entertainment, all of which are ultimately owned by the Japanese conglomerate Sony.
It was originally founded in 1929 as American Record Corporation and renamed as Columbia Recording Corporation in 1938, following its acquisition by the Columbia Broadcasting System. In 1966, the company was reorganized to become CBS Records, and Sony Corporation bought the company in 1988, renaming it under its current name in 1991. In 2004, Sony and Bertelsmann established a 50-50 joint venture known as Sony BMG, which transferred the businesses of Sony Music and Bertelsmann Music Group into one entity. However, in 2008, Sony acquired Bertelsmann’s stake, and the company reverted to the Sony Music name shortly after; the buyout allowed Sony to acquire all of BMG’s labels, and led to the dissolution of BMG, which instead relaunched as BMG Rights Management.
As of 2020, Sony Music Entertainment is the second largest of the “Big Three” record companies, behind Universal Music Group and followed by Warner Music Group. Its music publishing division Sony/ATV is the largest music publisher in the world. It used to own 50% of Syco Entertainment, which operates some of the world’s most successful reality TV formats, including Got Talent and The X Factor, but sold their stake back to Simon Cowell in 2020.
On July 17, 2019, Sony announced that Sony Music Entertainment and Sony/ATV would merge to become Sony Music Group. The merger was completed on August 1, 2019.