American Recordings (record label)

Last updated
American Recordings
American Recordings.jpg
Parent company Universal Music Group
Founded1988 (1988)
Founder Rick Rubin
Distributor(s) Republic Records
GenreVarious
Country of originUnited States
LocationLos Angeles, California
Official website republicrecords.com

American Recordings (formerly Def American Recordings) is an American record label headed by producer Rick Rubin. The label has featured artists such as Slayer, the Black Crowes, ZZ Top, Danzig, Trouble, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, The Mother Hips, and System of a Down.

A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information. Within the mainstream music industry, recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels also provide publicists, who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.

Rick Rubin American music producer

Frederick Jay Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and also established American Recordings. With the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Geto Boys, and Run-DMC, Rubin helped popularize hip hop music.

Slayer American thrash metal band

Slayer is an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California. The band was formed in 1981 by vocalist and bassist Tom Araya and guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. Slayer's fast and aggressive musical style made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax. Slayer's current lineup comprises King, Araya, drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt. Hanneman and drummers Dave Lombardo and Jon Dette are former members of the band.

Contents

Company history

The rarely seen original Def American logo. Note its resemblance to the Def Jam Recordings logo Original Def American logo.jpg
The rarely seen original Def American logo. Note its resemblance to the Def Jam Recordings logo

The label Def American Recordings was founded after Rick Rubin left Def Jam Recordings in 1988. Among the first acts to be signed were Slayer (which followed Rubin from Def Jam), Danzig, The Four Horsemen, Masters of Reality, and Wolfsbane, as well as indie rockers the Jesus and Mary Chain and controversial stand-up comedian Andrew Dice Clay. Rubin continued his association with hip-hop music as well by signing artists such as the Geto Boys and Sir Mix-a-Lot. Def American had its first major success with The Black Crowes' 1990 debut album, Shake Your Money Maker , which was eventually certified quintuple platinum by the RIAA. The group’s 1992 follow-up, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion , gave the label its first No.1 album. Rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot obtained a number-one hit with the song "Baby Got Back" as well as a platinum-selling album entitled Mack Daddy . Heavy metal acts Slayer and Danzig also enjoyed notable commercial success, with Slayer in particular having several gold certified albums. Rubin produced many of the recordings on the label, as well as directing other related ventures.

Def Jam Recordings American record label

Def Jam Recordings is an American record label focused predominantly on hip hop and urban music, owned by Universal Music Group. In the UK, the label takes on the name Def Jam UK and is operated through Virgin EMI Records, while in Japan, it is known as Def Jam Japan, operating through Universal Music Japan. The label distributes releases of various record labels, including Kanye West's GOOD Music, and Listen Up Forever Records, headed by producer, Ronny J. Current artists include Justin Bieber, Logic, Big Sean, Kanye West, Nas, 2 Chainz, Teyana Taylor, YG, Dave East, Jeezy, Jeremih, Q-Tip, Valee, Pusha T, Vince Staples, Fabolous, Desiigner and Jhené Aiko.

Danzig (band) American heavy metal band

Danzig is an American heavy metal band, formed in 1987 in Lodi, New Jersey. The band is the musical outlet for singer-songwriter Glenn Danzig, preceded by the horror punk bands the Misfits and Samhain. They play in a bluesy doom-driven heavy metal style influenced by the early sound of Black Sabbath.

The Four Horsemen were an American hard rock band, who enjoyed a brief popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their style was blues-influenced hard rock, but their fame was both fleeting and marred by tragedy.

Rubin changed the name of the company from Def American Recordings to American Recordings in 1993 after reportedly seeing the word "def" in the dictionary. The company was reportedly renamed because he believed that finding the word in a notable source was against the anti-establishment image that he was trying to project. A mock funeral presided over by the Reverend Al Sharpton was done for the label name change.

Al Sharpton American Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and television/radio talk show host

Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr. is an American civil rights activist, Baptist minister, television/radio talk show host and a former White House adviser for President Barack Obama. In 2004, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election. He hosts his own radio talk show, Keepin' It Real, and he makes regular guest appearances cable news television. In 2011, he was named the host of MSNBC's PoliticsNation, a nightly talk show. In 2015, the program was shifted to Sunday mornings.

American had several sub-labels over the years, including Onion Records, Ill Labels, Wild West, Whte Lbls [ sic ], and Infinite Zero. The latter was a partnership with Henry Rollins that specialized in reissues of obscure albums. None of these labels made the distribution transition after American Recordings left Warner Bros. Records in 1997, and its recordings were deleted.

The Latin adverb sic inserted after a quoted word or passage indicates that the quoted matter has been transcribed or translated exactly as found in the source text, complete with any erroneous, archaic, or otherwise nonstandard spelling. It also applies to any surprising assertion, faulty reasoning, or other matter that might be likely interpreted as an error of transcription.

Henry Rollins American singer-songwriter

Henry Lawrence Garfield, better known by his stage name Henry Rollins, is an American musician, actor, writer, television and radio host, and comedian. He hosts a weekly radio show on KCRW, and is a regular columnist for Rolling Stone Australia and was a regular columnist for LA Weekly.

Distribution

The first Def American release was Reign in Blood by Slayer, which had a Def Jam Recordings logo on its first pressing. It is known by fans of heavy metal music to be one of the most critically acclaimed and important albums in the genre's history, and continues to obtain much high praise from fans and critics. [1] A Def Jam Recordings logo was also present on its follow-up album. However, because Russell Simmons felt that Slayer's music was not in line with Def Jam, and because Def Jam's then-distributor Columbia Records refused to release it, it was released through Geffen Records, and Rubin took the rights of the release to the new label with him after the split. Danzig's 1988 debut album was the first release to actually bear the Def American logo. Initially, the label was distributed by Geffen through Warner Bros. Records, but when Geffen refused to distribute the self-titled album by the Geto Boys and the controversy it caused, distribution was absorbed by Warner Bros. proper, which released all subsequent Def American titles.

<i>Reign in Blood</i> 1986 studio album by Slayer

Reign in Blood is the third studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on October 7, 1986 by Def Jam Recordings. The album was the band's first collaboration with producer Rick Rubin, whose input helped the band's sound evolve. The release date of the album was delayed because of concerns regarding the lyrical subject matter of the opening track "Angel of Death", which refers to Josef Mengele and describes acts such as human experimentation that he committed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. However, the band's members stated numerous times that they did not condone Nazism and were merely interested in the subject.

Russell Simmons American entrepreneur, producer and author

Russell Wendell Simmons is an American entrepreneur, record executive, writer and film producer. The chair and CEO of Rush Communications, he co-founded the hip-hop music label Def Jam Recordings and created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and Tantris. Simmons's net worth was estimated at $340m in 2011.

Columbia Records American record label; currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment

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 in 1887, 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 1990, Columbia 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.

American's distribution has been handled through several labels over the years. American's first incarnation was distributed by Geffen Records through Warner Bros. Records from 1988 to 1990. After a falling out with Geffen over the content of the Geto Boys' only Def American release, Warner Bros. itself took over distribution duties from 1990 to 1997. However, sub-label Ill Labels was distributed by hip-hop specialist and former Warner Bros. subsidiary Tommy Boy Records as part of its deal. For a brief time during the 1990s, the label also distributed Too Pure Records in the US.

Rubin signed a distribution deal with Columbia Records in 1997, which distributed the label's titles until 2001. That year, Universal Music Group, through its Island Def Jam Music Group division, took over distribution. In 2005, with the exception of the recordings of Johnny Cash, the label returned to the aegis of Warner Bros. Records. Non-US distribution was handled by Sony Music Entertainment until the deal with Columbia expired.

In 2007, Warner Bros. Records, which was American's home from 1990 to 1997, acquired the rights to the extensive American Recordings catalog, which included Johnny Cash, The Black Crowes, The Jayhawks, Slayer, and Danzig. However, American's current roster (except Tom Petty) was transferred to BMG successor Sony BMG (now Sony Music Entertainment) in mid-2007 after a legal battle between Warner and Rubin over the details of their former arrangement, in which American Recordings would sign and provide creative services for artists, while Warner Bros. was only to handle promotion, sales, marketing, and distribution because Rubin was prompted to move his label with his appointment to co-chairman of Columbia Records in the spring of 2007.

In 2012, Rick Rubin, upon his exit from Sony Music Entertainment, signed a new deal with Universal Republic Records (now Republic Records) for a new incarnation of American. The first albums to be released under this new deal were ZZ Top's La Futura and The Avett Brothers' The Carpenter . [2]

Current artists

Former artists

Soundtracks

Infinite Zero Reissue Artists

See also

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Lyor Cohen is an American music industry executive. Cohen has been actively involved in hip hop at various record labels for more than 30 years. He started by managing rappers for Rush Productions, then led Def Jam. After Def Jam, Cohen took on a leadership role at Warner Music Group. In September 2012, Cohen put in his resignation at Warner and started his own independent label, 300 Entertainment. On September 28, 2016, Cohen was named YouTube's Global Head of Music.

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References

  1. Merlin (7 October 2011). "'Reign In Blood' Turns 25!". Metal Hammer UK. Future Publishing Limited. Archived from the original on 7 April 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  2. Jem Aswad (22 August 2012). "Exclusive: Rick Rubin Brings American Recordings to Universal Republic". Billboard.biz. Billboard. Retrieved 11 October 2012.