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Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded on January 15, 1889, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1991, its recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI’s Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music’s four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.
Adele is one of several artists signed to Columbia in both the United States and United Kingdom. From 2008–2015, Adele’s music releases were largely distributed by XL Recordings, with Columbia exclusively handling her releases in the United States and Latin America. However, in 2016, she reportedly signed a new contract with Sony Music, solidifying Columbia as her primary record label in both the US and UK. Adele’s forthcoming fourth studio album, 30, will be her first album to be marketed globally by Columbia Records, instead of being split between XL Recordings and Beggars Group's regional distribution partners in most of the world and Columbia in North America.