RCA (RCA Records: simple ‘RCA’ or ‘RCA’ with lightning bolt in circle)
RCA imprint logo history:
until ca. 1962, RCA Records had used the original lightning bolt logo (eg: as seen in this 1962 release, before transitioning to the newer logo, as seen in this 1963 release) — though wikipedia claims the transition didn't occur till about 1968.
1963–1988: a modernized RCA logo was introduced (shown here as valid from "1977–1988", but actual releases provide evidence it was introduced much earlier)
1988–present: the return to the iconic lightning bolt logo, albeit a slightly revised version of the original, when then parent BMG brought it back into use.
The Radio Corporation of America (est. 1901) did not start producing discs until 1929 when it bought the Victor Talking Machine Company and changed its name. The RCA Victor Company had two main divisions; one manufacturing electrical equipment such as radios and televisions, the other devoted to recordings. The recording branch has been known under various names during its history, but was initially called RCA Victor. The RCA Records imprint was not used until the late 1940s.
The company released the first 45rpm record in 1949 and was subsequently divided into RCA (for pop, rock and country music) and RCA Victor (for blues, world music, and jazz). RCA Red Seal is the renowned classical music label with a reissue sub-label called RCA Gold Seal. Defunct labels from the past include budget labels RCA Camden and RCA Victrola.
In 1955, RCA Records purchased the recording contract of Elvis Presley from Sun Records.
In 1983, 50% of Arista Records was sold to RCA, and two years later, Bertelsmann (the owner of the other 50%) and RCA formed a joint venture which led to the creation of Bertelsmann Music Group (encompassing Arista, Ariola, RCA and Bertelsmann) in 1986.
With the history of RCA in the US, and the distribution power of Bertelsmann in Europe, BMG was one of the most successful music groups from the mid-80s to 2004, when it joined forces with Japanese conglomerate Sony.
RCA Records still exists as an imprint for many original releases, with Legacy issuing much of the RCA back catalogue, all via Sony/BMG's international outposts.
Worldwide distribution network, based on Broadway, NYC. Responsible for national branches of RCA Records (e.g. US, UK, Australia), along with Arista, Jive, and Zomba. Is, in fact, a fully-owned subsidiary of BMG, which has been involved in a joint venture with Sony since August 2004.
As of October 7, 2011, record labels Arista, Jive, and J Records were shut down and their signed artists moved to a restructured RCA Records.