Arista Records

Last updated

Arista Records, Inc.
Arista Records Logo.svg
Parent company
Founded1974 (1974); 47 years ago
Founder Clive Davis
StatusActive
Distributor(s)
  • Self-distributed (U.S.)
  • Sony Music Entertainment (worldwide)
  • Legacy Recordings (reissues)
GenreVarious
Country of originUnited States
Location New York City, New York, U.S.
Official website www.aristarecordings.com

Arista Records, Inc. ( /əˈrɪstə/ ) is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of the Japanese conglomerate Sony. The label was previously handled by Bertelsmann Music Group. The label was founded in 1974 by Clive Davis. Along with Epic Records, RCA Records, and Columbia Records, Arista is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels.

Contents

History

Background

Logo used prior to Arista's 2018 relaunch Arista logo.png
Logo used prior to Arista's 2018 relaunch

After being fired from CBS Records, [1] Clive Davis was recruited by Alan Hirschfield, CEO of Columbia Pictures, in June 1974 to be a consultant for the company's record and music operations. Shortly after his hiring by CPI, Davis became president of Bell Records, replacing the departing Larry Uttal. Davis's real goal was to reorganize and revitalize Columbia Pictures's music division. With a $10 million investment by CPI, and a reorganization of the various Columbia Pictures legacy labels (Colpix, Colgems, and Bell), Davis introduced Columbia Pictures's new record division, Arista Records, in November 1974, [2] ultimately owning 20 percent of the company. The label was named after Arista, New York City's public secondary school honor society (of which Davis was a member at Erasmus Hall High School). In early 1975, most of the artists who had been signed to Bell were let go, except David Cassidy (who left for RCA Records), Tony Orlando and Dawn (who left for Elektra Records), and the 5th Dimension (which departed for ABC Records). Others, such as Suzi Quatro and Hot Chocolate, were farmed out to the Bell/Arista-distributed label, Big Tree. Several Bell acts, such as Barry Manilow, the Bay City Rollers, and Melissa Manchester continued with Arista. The British Bell label kept that name for a couple of years before changing its name to Arista. The label was mentioned in the 1978 Nick Lowe song "They Called It Rock," in the lyric, "Arista says they love you/But the kids can't dance to this."

Arista signed the Grateful Dead in 1976, and the group released their only Top 40 pop hit, "Touch of Grey", on the label in 1987. [3] [4] In addition to Outlaws, Patti Smith, Eric Carmen, Air Supply, The Kinks, Lou Reed, Alan Parsons and Dionne Warwick, Arista signed Aretha Franklin in 1980, after her long relationship with Atlantic Records ended. The label's most significant acquisition came in 1983 when Davis signed Whitney Houston. Houston would become Arista's biggest-selling recording act and one of the best-selling acts in music history with sales of over 200 million records worldwide, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). [5]

Subsidiary imprint labels

Arista had an imprint label in the 1970s called Arista Novus, which focused on contemporary jazz artists. It distributed two other jazz labels, Arista Freedom, which specialized in avant-garde jazz [6] and, until 1982, GRP Records, which specialized in contemporary jazz and what came to be known as smooth jazz. A country music division, Career Records, was merged into the Arista Nashville division in 1997. Arista Austin was used in the late 1990s as a country label. Additionally, Arista was the North American distributor of Jive Records from 1981 until 1987. During the 1990s, Arista also distributed Logic, Rowdy and Heavenly Recordings.[ citation needed ]

Acquisitions, sell-offs

Looking to stave off bankruptcy, Columbia Pictures sold Arista to German-based Ariola Records, a unit of Bertelsmann, in 1979. But after Arista lost $12 million in 1982, Bertelsmann sold a 50% interest in the company to RCA Records in 1983. In 1985, RCA and Bertelsmann merged their music operations to form RCA/Ariola International; RCA owned 75% and Bertelsmann owned the remainder. After General Electric absorbed the RCA Corporation in 1986, GE sold off various RCA assets, including all of its interest in RCA/Ariola to Bertelsmann, and it was renamed Bertelsmann Music Group, though Arista's U.S. releases would not note BMG until 1987.

Into the 1980s, Arista continued its success, including major UK act Secret Affair. Over the years it acquired Northwestside Records, deConstruction Records, First Avenue Records, and Dedicated Records in the UK. In 1989, Arista entered into a joint venture with Antonio "L.A." Reid and Babyface in the creation of LaFace Records, record company of Toni Braxton, Usher, and TLC, which it acquired in 1999. In 1993, Arista also entered into a joint-venture with Sean "Puffy" Combs to form Bad Boy Records. In 1997 Arista acquired Profile Records, the home of Run-D.M.C. and Poor Righteous Teachers.

Milli Vanilli controversy

In 1989, Arista signed Milli Vanilli, a duo consisting of Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan that was based in Germany. The label released its debut album, Girl You Know It's True , which was a remixed and re-edited version of All or Nothing , which had been out in Europe the previous year. The album was certified sextuple platinum in the U.S., and charted five top-ten singles, three of them reaching the number one position. In 1990, Milli Vanilli won two American Music Awards and a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Carol Decker, lead singer of the band T'Pau, was interviewed after their performance on MTV and said that Milli Vanilli had used a Synclavier and were not singing. Later that year, Frank Farian, Milli Vanilli's producer, said that the duo hadn't performed a single note on their album. This revelation caused a firestorm in the music industry, as recording artists, particularly bubble-gum pop acts that heavily relied on electronic processing and over-dubbing (what they referred to as "studio magic"), were now under scrutiny and subsequently forced to cut back on lip-synching to show that they were authentic. Milli Vanilli's Grammy Award was subsequently revoked. [7] Clive Davis promptly released the duo from its contract and deleted the album and its masters from their catalogue—making Girl You Know It's True the largest-selling album to be deleted. A court ruling in the U.S. allowed anyone who had bought the album to get a partial refund.

In response to the scandal, Arista's position was that the company had been completely unaware of Morvan and Pilatus having not themselves recorded their album. In a post-debacle interview, Morvan defended himself for his part in the deception by saying, "[Before Milli Vanilli] I was working at a McDonald's. What would you have done?"

Reconstructing Arista

At the end of the year 2000, following its 25th anniversary, BMG pushed Davis out as presient and CEO. Although Davis was still one of the most successful record heads in the entire music industry, BMG had an age restriction policy. Davis was replaced by L.A. Reid as the company's president and CEO. Under Reid, the label had success with newer acts such as Avril Lavigne, Pink, and Kelis, but struggled with newer releases by more established acts already on the label. Reid seemed to lose focus and have many miscalculations when it came to promoting Arista's established acts such as TLC, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston (Houston being BMG's biggest selling act out of all BMG labels), and several other acts. Reid seemed to put more money in promoting newer acts and less money into promoting established acts. Reid's extravagant spending, meanwhile, and lower sales of big-name established acts under his tenure, caused the company to lose money. After the merger of BMG and Sony Music Entertainment in 2004, Reid was fired. Arista, always an independently managed front line label at BMG, was merged with J Records in August 2005; J Records being the successful label that Clive Davis started after being let go by BMG due to age restrictions. The merged Arista and J record labels began operating under the newly formed RCA Music Group—of which Davis was re-instated as CEO after the merger of BMG and Sony, thus Davis once again became in control of Arista and several other labels from the very company that previously had let him go. The Arista label continued to be used for new releases, although heavily scaled back, while its reissues are released through Sony Music's Legacy Recordings. Also, as a result of the Sony-BMG merger, Arista once again became related to Columbia Pictures, which is fully owned by the Sony Corporation of America (through Sony Pictures Entertainment) - who would buy out BMG's share in 2008.[ citation needed ]

Dissolution and revival

After the Sony-BMG merger, LaFace Records was eventually revived; the label was now fully owned by Sony-BMG and began operating under the JIVE Label Group.

During the summer of 2011, the RCA Music Group underwent a restructuring that saw the elimination of the Arista name later on that year, along with sister labels J Records and Jive. [8] RCA Records started releasing all RCA Music Group releases under RCA Records. [9] [10] [11] Arista Nashville continued to operate through Sony Music Nashville and was not affected by the closing of Arista Records. [12]

Arista Records France was founded in September 2012, making it initially the last active remnant of the label.

In July 2018, it was announced that Arista would be revived as a frontline label, making it now the fourth flagship record label under Sony Music alongside Columbia, RCA, and Epic. The company has hired former Island Records president/CEO David Massey to lead Arista. [13]

Arista Nashville

In 1989, Arista Records launched Arista Nashville, which specializes in country music artists. In 1995, Arista Nashville launched a subsidiary label known as Career Records, the roster of which at the time included Brett James, Tammy Graham, and Lee Roy Parnell. Currently, Arista Nashville falls under the wing of Sony Music Nashville, hosting such artists as Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Ronnie Dunn and Jerrod Niemann.

Artists

See also

Related Research Articles

Clive Davis American record producer and music executive (born 1932)

Clive Jay Davis is an American record producer, A&R executive, music industry executive, and lawyer. He has won five Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer, in 2000.

Milli Vanilli Former German-French R&B duo

Milli Vanilli was a German-French R&B duo from Munich. The group was founded by Frank Farian in 1988 and consisted of Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus. Their debut album, All or Nothing in Europe, reconfigured as Girl You Know It's True in the United States, achieved international success and brought them a Grammy Award for Best New Artist on 21 February 1990.

RCA Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. It is one of Sony Music's four flagship labels, alongside RCA's former long-time rival Columbia Records; also Arista Records, and Epic Records. The label has released multiple genres of music, including pop, classical, rock, hip hop, afrobeat, electronic, R&B, blues, jazz, and country. Its name is derived from the initials of its defunct parent company, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). It was fully acquired by Bertelsmann in 1986, making it a part of Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG). RCA Records became a part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment after Sony and BMG merged in 2004; it was acquired by the former in 2008, after the dissolution of Sony BMG and the restructuring of Sony Music. It is the second-oldest record label in American history, after sister label Columbia Records.

Jive Records American record label

Jive Records was an American independent record label formed in 1981 and was owned by Sony Music Entertainment since 2003. Formerly headquartered in New York City, Jive was best known for its string of successes with hip hop artists in the 1980s and 1990s, and also in teen pop and boy bands during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since 2011, the label has been in hibernation with its previous operations having been absorbed by RCA Records.

Epic Records American record label

Epic 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. The label was founded predominantly as a jazz and classical music label in 1953, but later expanded its scope to include a more diverse range of genres, including pop, R&B, rock, and hip hop.

Bertelsmann Music Group Record label company

Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) was a division of German media company Bertelsmann before its completion of sale of the majority of its assets to Sony Corporation of America on 1 October 2008. Although it was established in 1987, the music company was formed as RCA/Ariola International in 1985 as a joint venture to combine the music label activities of RCA Corporation's RCA Records division and Bertelsmann's Ariola Records and its associated labels which include Arista Records. It consisted of the BMG Music Publishing company, the world's third largest music publisher and the world's largest independent music publisher, and the 50% share of the joint venture with Sony Music, which established the German American Sony BMG from 2004 to 2008.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment was an American record company owned as a 50–50 joint venture between Sony Corporation of America and Bertelsmann Music Group. The venture's successor, the revived Sony Music, is wholly owned by Sony, following their buyout of the remaining 50% held by Bertelsmann. BMG was instead rebuilt as BMG Rights Management on the basis of 200 remaining artists.

Ariola German record label

Ariola is a German record label. In the late 1980s, it was a subsidiary label of the Bertelsmann Music Group, which in turn has become a part of the international media conglomerate Sony Music Entertainment.

Sony Music American music company

Sony Music Entertainment is an American global music company. Owned by the Japanese conglomerate Sony Group Corporation, it is part of the Sony Music Group, which is owned by Sony Corporation of America.

J Records

J Records is an American record label owned and operated by Sony Music Entertainment, and was distributed through the RCA Music Group. The label was founded in 2000 by Clive Davis and was dissolved into RCA Records in 2011.

Zomba Group of Companies Record label

The Zomba Group of Companies was a music group and division owned by and operated under Sony Music Entertainment. The division was renamed to Jive Label Group in 2009 and was placed under the RCA/Jive Label Group umbrella. In 2011, the RCA/Jive Label Group was split in half. Multiple Jive Label Group artists were moved to Epic Records while others stayed with Jive as it moved under the RCA Music Group. In October 2011 Jive Records was shut down and their artists were moved to RCA Records.

Colgems Records

Colgems Records was a record label that existed from 1966 to 1971.

BNA Records

BNA Records, formerly known as BNA Entertainment, was a label group that shared ties with Arista Nashville and RCA Nashville from parent company Sony Music Nashville, which itself is a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, BNA featured country music acts on its roster. The company derived its name from the IATA and ICAO airport codes for Nashville International Airport.

RCA/Jive Label Group

RCA/Jive Label Group was a short-lived American record label group, owned by Sony Music Entertainment and representing the merger of the RCA Music Group and Jive Label Group. The umbrella group was formed in 2007 under the name BMG Label Group, was rebranded as RCA/Jive Label Group in 2009. In July 2011 it was finally dissolved into two separate labels: the RCA Music Group and Epic Records which took Jive subsidiaries until October 2011 when it retired Jive Records along with Arista Records and J Records. The artists on those three labels were moved to RCA Records.

Barry Weiss American music executive and producer (born 1959)

Barry Weiss is an American music executive and producer who is currently an executive with RECORDS, a label he co-founded. He got his start at Clive Calder's Jive Records before working his way up to the head of the RCA/Jive Label Group. While at Jive, Weiss fostered artists like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, NSYNC, Chris Brown, Backstreet Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, and many others. He left the organization in 2011 to join the Universal Music Group prior to co-founding RECORDS in 2015.

RCA Music Group was an umbrella group of labels distributed by Sony Music Entertainment that existed between March 2004 and 2009, and for a short period of time between July 2011 and October 2011 as all RCA Music Group labels were merged with RCA Records.

Peter Edge is an English-American record executive. He is the chairman and CEO of RCA Records.

CBS Records International

CBS Records International was the international arm of the Columbia Records unit of Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. (CBS) that was formed in 1961 and launched in 1962. Previously Columbia Records had been using other record companies to distribute Columbia recordings outside North America, such as Philips Records and its subsidiary Fontana in Europe.

LaFace Records

LaFace Records was an American record label based in Atlanta, Georgia, that operated as a unit of Sony Music Entertainment from 2008 to 2011 and was historically a part of Bertelsmann Music Group from 1989 to 2004. It was most active and achieved its greatest commercial success during the 1990s; dealing largely in the field of urban music. It was originally distributed by its co-creator Arista Records from 1989 through 2001; after which it was shuttered and absorbed into Arista. In 2004, the label was rebooted, and it began operating through Jive Records until both were absorbed into RCA Records in 2011. Today, the label's back catalog and reissues are managed by Legacy Recordings.

References

  1. "CPI Tabs Davis to Expand Line" Billboard on Google Books (June 1, 1974). Retrieved March 18, 2011
  2. "The New Record Company: Arista Records". Billboard via Google Books (November 23, 1974). Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  3. "Hal Kant: Lawyer for the Grateful Dead". The Independent. December 8, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  4. Browne, David (May 7, 2015). "The Dead's Not-So-Grateful Response to Going Mainstream". Medium. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  5. RIAA sales statistics Archived July 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. "Arista/Freedom Records Listing". Jazzdiscography.com. April 26, 1998. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  7. PARELES, JON (November 20, 1990). "Wages of Silence: Milli Vanilli Loses A Grammy Award". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
  8. Halperin, Shirley (October 7, 2011). "RCA Records' Peter Edge and Tom Corson on Why the Label Downsized and its Place in Sony's Big Picture (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  9. Christman, Ed (August 23, 2011). "RCA's New Executive Team Named Under CEO Peter Edge Amid Layoffs (Update)". Billboard.biz. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  10. "Unveiling The New Look RCA Records". FMQB. August 23, 2011. Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  11. Halperin, Shirley (October 7, 2011). "RCA's Peter Edge, Tom Corson on the Shuttering of Jive, J and Arista". Billboard.biz. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  12. "Quick Takes: RCA closes subsidiaries". Los Angeles Times. October 8, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  13. "David Massey to Helm Relaunched Arista Records For Sony Music Entertainment". Billboard.com. July 9, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.