Enigma Records

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Enigma Records
Enigma logo.png
Parent companyGreenworld Distribution (until 1985)
EMI (from 1989)
Universal Music Group (back catalog)
Disney Music Group (Stryper catalog)
Warner Music Group (Devo and Restless catalogs)
Founded1980 (1980)
FounderWilliam and Wesley Hein
Defunct1991 (1991)
Distributor(s) Capitol Records (reissues)
Hollywood Records (Stryper reissues)
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal, alternative, punk [1]
Country of originUnited States
Location Torrance, El Segundo, Culver City, California

Enigma Records (also known as Enigma Entertainment Corporation) was a popular rock and alternative American record label in the 1980s.



Enigma Records launched as a division of Greenworld Distribution, an independent music importer/distributor, in 1981. [2] [3] Four years later, in 1985, Enigma severed ties with Greenworld and became its own company. [4] Enigma was initially located in Torrance, California, [1] then El Segundo, California [5] and finally Culver City, California. [6] Enigma was founded and run by brothers William and Wesley Hein. [3] Jim Martone joined the company in 1984. [7] Enigma focused on punk rock, alternative, and heavy metal music [1] though it also released techno (Synthicide Records), jazz (Intima Records) and classical music (Enigma Classics) through subsidiary labels. [4]

The label's first release was Mötley Crüe's Too Fast for Love . [4] The album was initially released under the band's own Leathür Records imprint but manufactured, marketed and distributed by what would become the Enigma Records team. After the band moved on to Elektra Records, the Enigma Records name was adopted and all subsequent artists were released under this new name. Enigma's next major success was with the pop band Berlin. [4] [8]

Enigma Records was initially distributed through independent record importers/distributors such as Jem Records and Important Records. In 1984, Enigma entered into a joint venture with EMI America to sign and develop new artists. Among the artists signed under the venture were the Red Hot Chili Peppers and SSQ (later renamed Stacey Q and signed to Atlantic Records). In 1986, Enigma moved its distribution to Capitol/EMI, [4] a major record label, while leaving its Restless Records division with the independent distributors that had previously distributed Enigma. Poison, a glam rock band, and The Smithereens were two of the first artists released under the joint Enigma / Capitol relationship, both of which had significant success. That same year it launched a music video line, which was also distributed by Capitol. [9]

One of Enigma's biggest commercial successes was with the Christian rock band Stryper, which had several gold and platinum records on the label as well as significant international success. [10]

In addition to the primary Enigma Records label, the company had two smaller subsidiary labels as well as a music publishing company (La Rana / El Porto Music administered by Bug Music). Enigma Retro focused on re-issues of material licensed from other labels such as Straight Records, Bizarre Records, and DiscReet Records. The Restless Records division focused on alternative artists not intended for major label distribution. Enigma also released film soundtracks including The Terminator and River's Edge . Enigma released a compilation album, Enigma Variations , with various artists. Enigma had a joint venture with Mute Records and released certain Mute titles in the United States. Sonic Youth's landmark 1988 album Daydream Nation was originally released on Enigma Records, in association with Blast First Records.

Enigma was formally acquired by Capitol/EMI in 1989. [3] [5] Some of its catalog and operations were merged into the still independent Restless Records in 1991. [11]

Enigma's Canadian division was closed in 1992 and was reorganized into FRE Records before shuttering in 1999, after which its back catalogs was sold to DROG Records.

The Enigma catalog is controlled by Capitol Music Group, owned by Universal Music Group which acquired Capitol's former parent EMI and the majority of its recorded music operations in 2012. Disney Music Group's Hollywood Records, distributed by UMG, handles the reissues of Stryper's Enigma albums. The catalog of Devo's albums and Enigma titles that were merged into Restless is owned by Warner Music Group, which acquired Restless's previous parent Rykodisc in 2006, and distributed by the Alternative Distribution Alliance.


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<i>Enigma Variations</i> (album) 1985 compilation album by Various Artists

The Enigma Variations is a compilation album of newer artists that were on Enigma Records or one of its subsidiaries. It was originally released as a double LP and cassette, but was then subsequently also released as a CD with a reduced number of tracks. The album was compiled by Steve Pross and William Hein. The Greek pressing of the album was issued as a single LP.


  1. 1 2 3 Seidenberg, Robert (August 1985). "The Enigma Variations". Spin . p. 31. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  2. Gil, Paco Pepe (October 31, 2019). "Chiswick, Stiff, Creation...: 10 razones de peso para comprarle discos a un sello independiente" [Chiswick, Stiff, Creation ...: 10 compelling reasons to buy records from an independent label]. El Periódico de Catalunya (in Spanish). Retrieved March 9, 2020. In 1980, Enigma Records was created by the brothers William and Wesley Hein as a division of Greenworld Distribution, an independent music distributor and importer. A few years later they split from the parent company and moved to California and dedicated themselves to promoting and supporting alternative music bands and artists. ... Notable artists include: The Dream Syndicate, Don Dixon, The Cramps, Agent Orange, Rock Erickson, Green On Red, The Minutemen, Rain Parade, Redd Kross, The Vandals, Wednesday Week, Stryper and The Smithereens. (translated from Spanish)
  3. 1 2 3 "Wesley Hein". LinkedIn . Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Goodman, Fred (July 18, 1987). "Putting Business back Into the Music Business". Billboard . pp. E-4. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 9, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  5. 1 2 Knoedlseder, William K., Jr (July 28, 1989). "Polygram Will Buy Island Records for About $300 Million". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  6. "Ad for the Cramps Stay Sick album". Spin . April 1990. p. 23. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  7. "Jim Martone". Music 180.com. Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  8. "Enigma Records History" (PDF). New on the Charts. March 4, 2017. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  9. Sutherland, Sam (May 3, 1986). "Capitol Is Solution for Enigma Distribution". Billboard . 98 (18). pp. 4, 71. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
  10. "Stryper History". Q103 Albany. October 22, 2016. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  11. "Enigma Records". Rate Your Music . Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2011.