|Walt Disney Records|
|Parent company||Disney Music Group|
|Founder||Roy O. Disney and Jimmy Johnson|
|Distributing label||Universal Music
Distribution (U.S. and India)
|Country of origin||US|
|Official Website||Official Site|
Walt Disney Records (WDR) is a family music record label owned by Disney. Walt Disney Records was formed in 1956. Before that time, Disney recordings were licensed out to a variety of other labels (RCA, Decca, Capitol, and AmPar Records). It was Walt Disney’s brother Roy O. Disney who suggested that Walt Disney Productions (now The Walt Disney Company) form their own record label. Roy enlisted long time staffer Jimmy Johnson to head this new division – Disneyland Records.
Jimmy brought in Salvador "Tutti” Camarata (renowned musician and founder of the legendary Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood) to head up the creative end of this new enterprise. Tutti’s expertise and skill established the label’s initial forays into long form musical albums, which included Jazz interpretations of Disney Standards (Snow White, Bambi, and Cinderella), original musical concept albums (Summer, Winter, Spring, Autumn, and Tutti’s Trumpets) and expanded the format of Soundtracks by including selections from the score as well as the famous songs. Tutti’s connections within the music industry also brought to the label the likes of Mary Martin, Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Jerry Colonna, and Phil Harris to name a few. It was also Tutti’s idea that the popular Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello, become the label’s first artist in residence. For her albums, and more ‘contemporary’ selections, the Buena Vista Records label was established under the Disneyland Records banner.
While looking for the right material for Annette, Tutti and his team discovered the songwriting duo of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman after hearing one of their songs on the radio. The two were brought to the Disney Studio in Burbank where they eventually became the first staff songwriters for the entire Disney Company. They not only penned a good deal of Annette’s songs, but were also responsible for most of the iconic Disney songs of the 1960’s and beyond – “It’s a Small World” and “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” for the Theme Parks, as well as the songs from “Mary Poppins”, “The Jungle Book”, “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”.
In 1989 Disneyland Records was renamed Walt Disney Records. In addition to the Buena Vista label, Disney Audio Entertainment (1990 – 1991), and Disney Sound (2004 – present) labels were established to delineate the many varied styles of recordings the company releases.
Walt Disney Records’ product offerings have been quite diverse. Along with traditional Song Albums and Soundtracks targeted to children and families, they’ve released spoken word Read Alongs (Book and Tape/CD reading tools), Storyteller Albums (album length spoken word for children), Audio Books, Official Theme Park Albums, Karaoke CD+G Albums, as well as the Baby Einstein Classical series (which regularly tops the midline Classical Charts). Currently, the label’s mainstay remains compilation albums of catalog recordings as well as collections of contemporary recordings of the Disney Standards by way of its DisneyMania Series.
Walt Disney Records holds the distinction of being the only record company to top the IFPI’s best-selling global album for two years in a row (“High School Musical” Soundtrack in 2006, and “High School Musical 2” Soundtrack in 2007). It also has diversified by producing touring concerts (with its sister division, Buena Vista Concerts) of its artists including Hannah Montana and the Cheetah Girls. It adopted its present name in 1989.