Beatles' Record Label(s)

What’s the story with the Apple lable? At some point, did Capital records pick up the Beatles? Or, was all Beatles music originally recorded under the Apple label?


The Beatles were signed to the Parlophone label, a division of EMI. There was no Parlophone label in the US or Canada or other places, so in some places in the world, their records came out on Capitol - sort of the US branch office of EMI. After Brian Epstein died, they figured they would come up with their own label and management company, to gain more artistic control and hopefully get more of their own money. “Hey Jude” was the first Beatles single on their new Apple label, and the White Album their first album, although they had a whole other business recruiting other talent and releasing their records too. Over the years, Apple has purchased the rights to all the Beatles recordings, and they lease them exclusively to EMI for release and distribution.

Capitol was not the first label Beatles records came out on in the States. They passed on the group when they heard them, saying there was no market in the US for this kind of music. So you’ll find their first EMI recordings on Vee Jay, Tollie and Swan, while their Polydor recordings from Germany were reissued in the US by MGM and a couple others. It was only after “I Want To Hold Your Hand” took off, and the group was coming over to appear on Ed Sullivan that Capitol woke up to the potential windfall of cash, and the machine went into high gear.

The Beatles signed a recording contract to EMI in 1962, and their records were released in Britain under the EMI label Parlophone. Capitol Records was the American branch of EMI. In 1968, the Beatles formed their own label, Apple Records, which was distributed by EMI and Capitol. All of the Beatles’ EMI catalog was reissued in 1975 under the Apple label.