Walt Disney Records is the flagship record label of the Disney Music Group and is owned by The Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Records was formed in 1956 as Disneyland Records. Before that time, Disney recordings were licensed out to a variety of other labels such as (RCA, Decca, Capitol, and ABC-Paramount Records). It was Walt Disney’s brother, Roy O. Disney, who suggested that Walt Disney Productions (now the modern-day Walt Disney Company) form their own record label. Roy enlisted longtime staffer Jimmy Johnson to head this new division – Disneyland Records. It adopted its present name in 1988. The label currently releases soundtracks from Disney's motion pictures and theme parks, as well as, traditional studio albums produced by its roster of pop, teen pop, and country artists.
Jimmy Johnson brought in musician Tutti Camarata, founder of Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, to head the creative end of this new enterprise. Tutti established the label's initial forays into long-form musical albums, which included jazz interpretations of Disney standards from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, and Cinderella, as well as original musical concept albums, and he expanded the format of soundtracks by including selections from the score as well as the 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. 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 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 1960s 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, the Disney Audio Entertainment (1990–1991), Disney Sound (2004–present), and Disney Pearl labels were established to delineate the many varied styles of recordings the company released.
Today, Walt Disney Records' selection of products ranges from traditional studio albums and original soundtracks to audiobooks and karaoke albums. It releases music from Walt Disney Pictures' films, Disney Channel Original Movies, Walt Disney Theatrical productions and other feature-length productions. It also releases the Disneymania and Radio Disney Jams albums while still keeping to its family-oriented representation by endorsing read-along albums for pre-schoolers and classic Disney music.
Walt Disney Record's Marketing strategy is very closely linked with sister television channels Disney Channel and Disney XD. Snippets of music videos released by the label frequently show during ad breaks on the channels. Disney Channel also sometimes airs mini-documentaries (Hannah Montana Live! - 2007) or interview sessions with Walt Disney Records Artists.
- Ross Lynch
- China Anne McClain
- Selena Gomez
- Bella Thorne
- Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana
- Debby Ryan
- The Muppets
- Bridgit Mendler
- Billy Ray Cyrus (on Vanity label Buena Vista Records)
- Imagination Movers
- Wayne Brady (Buena Vista)
- Adam Hicks
- Laura Marano
- Emily Osment
- Dove Cameron
- Radio Disney Jams
- Disney Karaoke Series
Note: Walt Disney Records also releases music under pseudo names such as Buena Vista Records, Disney Sound, and Disney Pearl Series labels.
- Disney Channel Holiday (2007)
- Pure Disney (2008)
- Disney Channel Playlist (2009)
- Disney Channel Holiday Playlist (2012)
- Disney's Friends for Change: Soundtrack Playlist (2013)
- Club Penguin: The Party Starts Now! (2013)
- Disney: The Company that changed the World published by Hyperion Books
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