His Master's Voice

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His Master's Voice record label, September 1928

His Master's Voice ( German: The voice of his master, French: La Voix de son Maître, Italian: La voce del padrone, Spanish: La Voz De Su Amo, Portuguese: A Voz do Dono ) is known worldwide Brand name of various record labels .


The name and its logo to go to the painter Francis Barraud back in 1898 his dog Nipper eavesdropping of Edison - phonograph had portrayed. The Gramophone Company , newly founded by Emil Berliner, among others , bought the picture, including the exploitation rights, from him in 1899 for a total of 100 pounds in order to use it in their newspaper advertisements. The condition was, however, that the originally shown Edison phonograph was painted over by a Berlin gramophone , which was also done. This original painting is still the eye-catcher in the entrance hall of the main company building in Hayes . Another 15 similar works were ordered, one of which is now in Vienna with a record label.

At the beginning of 1902 the Gramophone Company, after the establishment of the Victor Talking Machine Company in the United States , entered into negotiations with the company in which an agreement was reached for cooperation in a wide variety of areas. This also applies to the brand symbol, which from now on also graced the labels of the Victor Talking Machine Company.

"His Master's Voice" in the Phonomuseum "Old School"

Initially, the logo was used in advertisements. From 1903, its use on the characteristic tin cans in which gramophone needles were available in sets of around 100 needles is documented. The logo subsequently became so popular that the Gramophone Company changed the name of its record label Gramophone Records in 1909 to "His Master's Voice" and from then on it can be found on the records themselves in the title block in the middle and in many other places was. The name alludes to the fact that the dog is said to be listening to the voice of its deceased master. This representation was later denied.

In 1900 Emil Berliner had also secured the trademark “His Master's Voice” and Nipper as advertising motifs for the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft, which he helped to establish , in particular to serve the American market. In 1924, Berliner sold the America rights to the trademark to the Victor Talking Machine Company , which was incorporated into the RCA in 1929. Although the entire music business was sold to Bertelsmann in the form of RCA Records in 1986, unlike the rest of the company , the Thomson Group, to which RCA-Victor has belonged since then, became the rights holder of the trademark for the American continent. A final memento of this first phase of the record industry in Germany is a statue of Nipper in front of the former Deutsche Grammophon headquarters in Hanover .

In Europe and the Commonwealth countries, the rights to the trademark "His Master's Voice" were transferred to EMI , founded in 1931 , the successor to the Gramophone Company / HMV . EMI used the logo again from 2001 until it was broken up in 2011 as the cover motif of its CD series Nipper Collection with re-releases of older classical recordings. The record store chain HMV , which emerged from the EMI Group and is one of the market leaders in Great Britain, also follows the tradition of this trademark.

In Japan, the rights remained with the Victor Company of Japan ( JVC ), the former Japanese subsidiary of Victor Talking Machine Company.


  • Martin Fischer: The fascination of shellac: gramophones, shellac records, needle boxes. Battenberg, Regenstauf 2006, ISBN 3-866-46008-2 .
  • Hoffmann, Frank W. & Ferstler, Howard:  Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound,  Routledge, London 2005,  ISBN 978-0-415-93835-8 .

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