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Label history

Naxos Records is a record label specializing in classical music. Through a number of imprints, Naxos also releases genres including Chinese music, jazz, world music, and early rock & roll. The company was founded in 1987 by Klaus Heymann, a German-born resident of Hong Kong.

Naxos is the largest independent classical label in the world and one of the two largest-selling classical labels. It is also one of the largest distributors of independent classical record labels in the world. Since 2009 the company has distributed blu-ray discs, streaming web radio and podcasts. The company allows members of subscribing Public Libraries and Music Schools such as Hong Kong Public Libraries, Auckland Libraries, and Wellington City Libraries free streaming of Naxos classical and jazz collections.

The company originally was known for its budget pricing of discs, with simpler artwork and design than most other labels. In the 1980s, Naxos primarily recorded central and eastern European symphony orchestras, often with lesser-known conductors to minimize recording costs and maintain its budget prices.

In more recent years, Naxos has taken advantage of the expiring copyrights of other companies' studio recordings by selling disks remastered from gramophone records. Examples include the complete recordings of great opera singers such as Enrico Caruso, Amelita Galli-Curci and Titta Ruffo and of the 1934 world première performance of Howard Hanson's opera Merry Mount. Legal restrictions prevented some of these recordings being sold in the United States. Naxos has also recorded the music of contemporary composers, including Leonardo Balada, Bechara El-Khoury, Laurent Petitgirard and Alla Pavlova. The label has also branched out into jazz, world music, and books on musical subjects. Naxos Spoken Word Library contains non-music products, such as audiobooks and radio dramas.

Since the 1990s, Naxos has recorded with British and American orchestras, such as the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

The company produces Super Audio CDs, DVD-Audio and Blu-ray discs. In 2003 it began a paid subscription service for listening on the Internet that offers its complete catalogue and the Naxos Music Library. In 2015 it launched a high-definition download and streaming service, ClassicsOnline HD•LL, with a catalogue drawn from a number of classical record labels.

Naxos generally avoids repertoire duplication. Because of that, its classical repertoire has broadened to include fringe works, such as the symphonies of Nikolai Myaskovsky, contemporary classical music, and the works of lesser-known composers, such as Alexander Glazunov and Louis Spohr. It has produced a series of little-recorded works, such as the American Classics series, Canadian Classics series, Japanese classical music, Jewish-American music, wind band music, film music and early music, many of which are première recordings.

Like many independent labels, Naxos Records created its own distribution network as an alternative to pre-existing networks. Naxos was so successful that other independent labels began to seek distribution through its network as well. Naxos Global Logistics, based in Poing, near Munich, was founded in 2008 to expand the services offered to its distributed labels, including manufacturing, marketing, and licensing.

In 2005 Naxos won the “Label of the Year Award” at Classic FM/Gramophone awards.

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