Epic Records was launched in 1953 by the
Columbia Records unit of
CBS for the purpose of marketing
classical music that did not fit the theme of its more mainstream
Columbia Records label. Initial classical music releases were from
Philips Records which distributed Columbia product in Europe.
 Pop talent on co-owned
Okeh Records were transferred to Epic which made Okeh a
rhythm and blues label.
 Epic's bright-yellow, black, and blue logo became a familiar trademark for many jazz and classical releases. This has included such notables as the
Charles Rosen, the
Juilliard String Quartet,
Antal Doráti conducting the Hague Philharmonic and
George Szell conducting the
Expansion of genres and mainstream success
By 1960, the label's musical base had been expanded to include all genres. This was done in part to prevent the roster of Columbia Records (which, at the time, had a reputation for releasing material by more established acts) from being overstuffed with newer artists.rock and roll,
country music. Among its many acts, it included
The Dave Clark Five,
Helen Shapiro and
Jeff Beck. Several of the British artists on the Epic roster during the 1960s were the result of CBS's Epic/
Okeh units' international distribution deal with
EMI; Epic recordings were issued by EMI on the
Subsequently, Epic became better known for its signing of newer, fledgling acts. By the end of the 1960s, Epic earned its first gold records and had evolved into a formidable hit-making force in
Epic was involved in a notable "trade" of artists.
Graham Nash was signed to Epic because of his membership in The Hollies. When the newly formed
Crosby, Stills & Nash wanted to sign with
Ahmet Ertegün worked out a deal with
Clive Davis whereby
Richie Furay's new band
Poco (having signed with Atlantic due to Furay's contract from being in
Buffalo Springfield) would sign with Epic.
Epic's commercial success continued to grow in the 1970s with releases from
ABBA in the UK,
Charlie Daniels, Gabriel,
The Isley Brothers,
Minnie Riperton, Pegasus,
Sly & the Family Stone,
Steve Vai, and
Edgar Winter. Also contributing to the label's success was its distribution of
Philadelphia International Records, which produced additional hit records by acts such as
The Three Degrees and
McFadden and Whitehead.
Corporate structure: CBS, Sony Corp purchase, merger with BMG, creation of Sony Music Entertainment
During the 1960s, Epic oversaw the smaller
subsidiary CBS labels including Okeh Records and
Date Records. In 1968, Epic recordings began being distributed in the UK by CBS after the distribution deal with EMI expired that year;
 Epic itself launched in England around 1971.
Sony Corporation bought CBS Records in 1987, and the company was renamed Sony Music in 1991. It began splitting European operations into two separate labels, Epic and Columbia, in 1992, and in 1997, Sony Music Australia and New Zealand followed suit.
In 2004, Sony merged with music distributor,
Arista Records, Columbia Records, Epic Records,
RCA Records and
Zomba Group of Companies to one parent company, Sony BMG.
 In 2008, Sony bought out BMG for $1.2 billion, bringing all affiliated labels together as Sony Music Entertainment International, SMEI. The merger was approved by the
European Union in 2009.
1980s - 2010: Michael Jackson, Culture Club, Sade, Celine Dion, Epic Soundtrax, Pearl Jam, Oasis
Epic's 1980s and 1990s mainstream success were fueled by its signing and releasing of albums by notable acts such as
Teena Marie, Shakin' Stevens,
Gloria Estefan and the
Miami Sound Machine,
Dead or Alive,
Stevie Ray Vaughan,
Rage Against the Machine,
Céline Dion, and
Oasis, among others. The label's greatest financial payoff came via the release
1982 album by Michael Jackson, which went on to achieve approximately 51–65 million in worldwide sales, becoming the biggest selling album in history.
Epic Soundtrax was founded in 1992. It was central to Epic's 1990s success, with 11 releases cumulatively selling more than 40 million records over a three-year period. Notable releases included soundtrack albums for Honeymoon in Vegas,
Singles, Sleepless in Seattle,
Forrest Gump, Philadelphia, and
2011 to present: L.A. Reid, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor, Jennifer Lopez, Keyshia Cole, Fifth Harmony, Sylvia Rhone
In July 2011,
L.A. Reid became the CEO of Epic Records, signing artists such as
DJ Khaled and
 Epic also signed the winners of
The X Factor during the seasons that Reid appeared on the show.
Sylvia Rhone, former president of
Universal Motown, launched the imprint Vested In Culture through Epic Records. A year later, she was named president of the label.
In November 2014,
Mosley Music Group created a joint venture with Sony Music, with marketing, publicity, distribution and overall label services provided by Epic. The joint venture was created due to
Timbaland's previous collaboration with L.A. Reid on Michael Jackson's posthumous album, Xscape. Previously operated by
Interscope, most of MMG's roster moved to Epic.
Mariah Carey left her former label,
Def Jam Recordings, to reunite with Reid at Epic. He had worked with Carey at Def Jam under
The Island Def Jam Music Group in 2004.
 That same month, it was announced that R&B group
Jodeci had signed to the label and planned to release their first studio album in 20 years.
Wondaland Records, singer
Janelle Monáe's imprint, entered into a joint venture with Epic in 2015.
 Acts on Wondaland include
Deep Cotton and
Jennifer Lopez returned to Sony Music, six years after leaving in favor of
Island Def Jam and
Capitol Records. Lopez's multi-album deal reunited her with Reid, whom she signed with at Island Def Jam in 2010.
 In January 2017,
21 Savage signed to Epic .
In May 2017, Reid was fired for sexual harassment. Rhone subsequently served as the label's interim chief.