In 2004, Sony and Bertelsmann established a 50-50 joint venture called Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which transferred the businesses of Sony Music and Bertelsmann Music Group into one entity. However, in 2008, Sony acquired Bertelsmann's stake, and the company reverted to the SME name shortly after; the buyout allowed Sony to acquire all of BMG's labels, including former Columbia Pictures subsidiary Arista Records as well as RCA Records, and led to the dissolution of BMG, which instead relaunched as BMG Rights Management.
In 1929, ARC was founded through a merger of several record companies. In 1934, in the midst of Great Depression, the Columbia Phonograph Company (founded in the U.S. in 1888), including its Okeh Records subsidiary, was acquired by ARC.
ARC was acquired in 1938 by the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), which, in turn, had been formed by the Columbia Phonograph Company, but then sold off. ARC was renamed Columbia Recording Corporation. The Columbia Phonograph Company had international subsidiaries and affiliates such as the Columbia Graphophone Company in the United Kingdom, but they were sold off prior to CBS acquiring American Columbia. RCA Victor Records executive Ted Wallerstein convinced CBS head William S. Paley to buy ARC and Paley made Wallerstein head of the newly acquired record company. The renamed company made Columbia its flagship label and Okeh its subsidiary label, while deemphasizing ARC's other labels. This allowed ARC's leased labels Brunswick Records and Vocalion Records to revert to their former owner Warner Bros., which sold them to Decca Records. Columbia kept the Brunswick catalogue recorded from December 1931 onward on the Columbia label and around the same time the Vocalion label material was reissued on the Okeh label. Wallerstein, who was promoted at the end of 1947 from president to chairman of the record company, restored Columbia's status as a leading record company and spearheaded the successful introduction of the LP record before he retired as Columbia's chairman in 1951. He was succeeded by James Conkling as head of Columbia Records. In 1951, Columbia severed its ties with the EMI-owned record label of the same name and began a UK distribution deal with Philips Records. Okeh Records continued to be distributed by EMI on the Columbia label.
Columbia founded Epic Records in 1953 and in 1956, Conkling left Columbia. He would help establish the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences before eventually becoming the first president of the newly launched Warner Bros. Records. His successor, Goddard Lieberson began the first of two stints as head of the record company. and in 1958, Columbia founded another label, Date Records, which initially issued rockabilly music.