Geffen Records

Last updated
Geffen Records
Geffen Records logo.svg
Parent company Universal Music Group
Founded1980;41 years ago (1980)
Founder David Geffen
Distributor(s)
GenreVarious
Country of originUnited States
Location Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Official website interscope.com

Geffen Records is an American record label established by David Geffen and owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records imprint.

Contents

Founded in 1980, Geffen Records has been a part of Interscope Geffen A&M since 1999 and has been used by Universal Music as a syndicating division, serving its purpose to operate as a premier label for many new releases since 2003 and its 2017 reboot and at the same time to reissue many releases from recording labels such as Decca Records (exclusively the American pop/rock catalog), Kapp Records, DreamWorks Records, MCA Records, Uni Records, Chess Records, Almo Sounds (Recently, Interscope has managed reissues of the label in 2015) Dot Records, and ABC Records (primarily its pop, rock, and R&B recordings).

Over the years since its conception, the venerable label has signed and released recordings from many major artists such as Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Enya, Cher, Guns N' Roses, Tesla, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Aerosmith, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Donna Summer, and more recently Nirvana, Weezer, Mary J. Blige, Blink-182, Avicii, DJ Snake, Keyshia Cole, Lifehouse, Beck, Nelly Furtado, Lil Durk, Marshmello, Rise Against, Olivia Rodrigo, Snoop Dogg, Rob Zombie, Lil Huddy, and Gryffin.

History

Geffen Records began operations in 1980, having been started by music industry businessman David Geffen [1] who, in the early 1970s, had founded Asylum Records. Geffen stepped down from Asylum in 1975, when he crossed over to film and was named a vice president of Warner Bros. Pictures. He was fired from Warner circa 1978, but still remained locked in a five-year contract, which prevented him from working elsewhere. When that deal expired, he returned to work in 1980 and struck a deal with, ironically, Warner Bros. Records, the sister company to Warner Bros. Pictures, to create Geffen Records. Warner Bros. Records provided 100 percent of the funding for the label's start-up and operations and Warner distributed its releases in North America, while Epic Records handled distribution in the rest of the world until 1985. In that year, Warner Bros. took over distribution for the rest of the world. Profits were split 50/50 between Geffen Records and its respective distributors.

Geffen Records' first artist signing was superstar Donna Summer, whose gold-selling album The Wanderer became the label's first release in 1980. The label then released Double Fantasy by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Two weeks after it entered the charts, Lennon was murdered in New York City. Subsequently, the album went on to sell millions and gave Geffen its first number-one album and single; the rights to the album would later be taken over by EMI, which eventually was absorbed by Geffen's parent Universal Music.

As the 1980s progressed, Geffen would go on to have success with such acts as Berlin, Enya, Kylie Minogue, Quarterflash, Wang Chung, and Sammy Hagar. The label also signed several established acts such as Elton John, Irene Cara, Cher, Debbie Harry, Don Henley, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, and Jennifer Holliday. Toward the end of the decade, the company also began making a name for itself as an emerging rock label, thanks to the success of Whitesnake (U.S. and Canada only), The Stone Roses, Guns N' Roses, Tesla, Sonic Youth and the comeback of 1970s-era rockers Aerosmith. This prompted Geffen to create a subsidiary label, DGC Records in 1990; which focused on more progressive rock and would later embrace the emergence of alternative rockNirvana being an example. Geffen also briefly distributed the first incarnation of Def American Recordings through Warner Bros. from 1988 to 1990.

Acquisition by MCA

After a decade of operating through Warner, when its contract with the company expired, the label was sold to MCA Music Entertainment (later renamed Universal Music Group) in 1990. The deal ultimately earned David Geffen an estimated US$800 million in stock (until the Japanese conglomerate, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.'s cash acquisition of MCA in 1991, made Geffen a billionaire) and an employment contract that ran until 1995. Following the sale, Geffen Records operated as one of MCA's leading independently managed labels. Geffen stepped down as head of the label in 1995 to collaborate with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg to form DreamWorks SKG, an ambitious multimedia empire dealing in film, television, books and music. Geffen Records would distribute releases on the new operation's DreamWorks Records subsidiary. In January 1996, Geffen Records funded and distributed a short-lived boutique label Outpost Recordings featuring the likes of Whiskeytown, Ry Cooder, Veruca Salt, and Hayden [2] .

Interscope-Geffen-A&M

Universal Music Group acquired PolyGram in 1999, resulting in a corporate reorganization of labels. Geffen Records, along with A&M Records, was subsequently merged into Interscope Records. Although Geffen would continue to exist as a brand, it was downsized to fit into the greater expansion of Interscope. At the same time, international distribution of Interscope and Geffen releases switched to ex-PolyGram label Polydor Records, which had already been distributing A&M releases overseas (in return for A&M handling Polydor releases in the U.S.).

By 2000, despite Geffen Records no longer being independently operated within UMG and taking a more submissive position behind Interscope, it continued to do steady business—so much so that in 2003, UMG folded MCA Records into Geffen. Though Geffen had been substantially a pop-rock label, its absorption of MCA (and its back catalogs) led to a more diverse roster; with former MCA artists such as Mary J. Blige, The Roots, Blink-182, Rise Against and Common now featured on the label. Meanwhile, DreamWorks Records also folded, with artists such as Nelly Furtado, Lifehouse and Rufus Wainwright being absorbed by Geffen as well. During this time, DGC Records was also folded into Geffen, with retained artists now recording for Geffen directly (DGC was reactivated in 2007, however it would now operate through Interscope Records instead).

As the 2000s progressed, Geffen's absorption of the MCA and DreamWorks labels, along with its continuing to sign new acts such as Ashlee Simpson, Angels & Airwaves, Snoop Dogg and The Game, had boosted the company to the extent that it began gaining equal footing with the main Interscope label, leading some industry insiders to speculate that it could revert to operating as an independently managed imprint at UMG again. At the end of 2007, however, Geffen was absorbed further into Interscope, laying off sixty employees.

In 2009, it was announced that Geffen Records had signed an agreement with the Holy See to produce an album of Marian songs and prayers from Pope Benedict XVI. [3]

Jimmy Iovine relaunched the Geffen imprint in 2011, moving its headquarters from California to New York City. Gee Roberson was appointed chairman. [4]

In March 2017, Neil Jacobson was appointed President of Geffen Records to oversee the relaunch of the label via new signings as well as reinvigoration of the label's legendary catalog. [5] In December 2019, Jacobson left Geffen to start Crescent Drive Productions. [6]

In January 2020, Lee L'Heureux was appointed General Manager of Geffen Records. [7]

Joint Ventures

Current artists

Past artists

See also

Related Research Articles

MCA Records US record label

MCA Records was an American record label owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger Universal Music Group.

Universal Music Group American music corporation

Universal Music Group B.V. is a global music corporation that is majority owned by the French media conglomerate Vivendi, with Chinese tech company Tencent owning a minority stake. UMG's corporate headquarters are located in Hilversum, Netherlands and its operational headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California. The biggest music company in the world, it is one of the "Big Three" record labels, along with Sony Music and Warner Music Group. Tencent acquired ten percent of Universal Music Group in March 2020 for €3 billion and acquired an additional ten percent stake in January 2021.

Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M imprint. Founded in late 1990 by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field as a $20 million joint venture with Atlantic Records of Warner Music Group, it differed from most record companies by letting A&R staff control decisions and allowing artists and producers full creative control. Its first hit records arrived in under a year, and it achieved profitability in 1993. Chair and CEO until May 2014, Iovine was succeeded by John Janick.

David Geffen American record executive, film producer, theatrical producer, and philanthropist

David Lawrence Geffen is an American business magnate, producer and film studio executive. Geffen co-created Asylum Records in 1971 with Elliot Roberts, Geffen Records in 1980, DGC Records in 1990, and DreamWorks SKG in 1994.

Warner Music Group American global music conglomerate

Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) is an American multinational entertainment and record label conglomerate headquartered in New York City. It is one of the "big three" recording companies and the third-largest in the global music industry, after Universal Music Group (UMG) and Sony Music Entertainment (SME). Formerly part of Time Warner, WMG was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange from 2005 until 2011, when it announced its privatization and sale to Access Industries. It later had its second IPO on Nasdaq in 2020, once again becoming a public company. With a multibillion-dollar annual turnover, WMG employs more than 3,500 people and has operations in more than 50 countries throughout the world.

DGC Records American record label

DGC Records is an American record label that operates as a division of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, which is owned by the Vivendi-based Universal Music Group.

Universal Records was a record label owned by Universal Music Group and operated as part of the Universal Motown Republic Group. The label has been dormant since 2005, due to Universal Motown and Universal Republic Records being formed and taking all of the artists from it. Those labels were eventually combined to form the latest iteration of Republic Records.

Hip-O Records

Hip-O Records is a record label that specializes in reissues and compilations. It is part of Universal Music Group. Established in 1996, the label has distributed releases from 'out of style' genres such as disco and early hip-hop music as well as publishing film soundtracks. The label's name is a pun on the name 'hippo'.

DreamWorks Records

DreamWorks Records was an American record label founded in 1996 by David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg as a subsidiary of DreamWorks Pictures. The label operated until 2003 when it was sold to Universal Music Group. The label itself also featured a Nashville, Tennessee-based subsidiary, DreamWorks Nashville, which specialized in country music and was shut down in 2006. The company's logo was designed by Roy Lichtenstein and was his last commission before his death in 1997.

Star Trak Entertainment

Star Trak was an American record label, founded by The Neptunes in 2001. It operated as a division of Interscope Geffen A&M, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. Its name is a reference to the 1960s TV program Star Trek.

Mary J. Blige discography

American singer and songwriter Mary J. Blige began her career as a backing vocalist for Uptown Records in the early 1990s. She has released 13 studio albums, eight of which have individually achieved worldwide multi-platinum status. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and Queen of R&B, Mary J. Blige is uniquely credited as the first singer to release an album singing over hip-hop beats, which created the genre "hip hop soul" which fuses elements of soul, R&B and gospel style vocals over hip hop beats. Blige's genre-changing sound, in many ways, changed and shaped the sound for modern day R&B and blue-eyed soul artists. In September 1999, Rolling Stone bestowed her first album, What's the 411? (1992), as "genre-creating". Her discography consists of 14 top 10 Billboard 200 studio albums, two live albums, two remix albums and over eighty singles—including more than 20 as a featured artist. In 2009, Billboard magazine ranked Blige as the most successful female R&B/hip-hop artist of the past 25 years. In March 2017, Billboard magazine ranked her 2006 song "Be Without You" as the most successful R&B/hip-hop song of all time, as it spent an unparalleled 75 weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, 15 of those weeks at number one. In 2011, VH1 ranked Blige as the 80th greatest artist of all time. Moreover, she was ranked 100th on the list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" by Rolling Stone magazine. In 2012, VH1 ranked Blige ninth among "The 100 Greatest Woman in Music" listing.

Jude Anthony Cole is an American singer, songwriter, manager, and record producer. After signing to Reprise Records, Cole's solo career began with his eponymous debut studio album in 1987, which was followed up 4 subsequent releases until 2000. From then, he outsourced his talent onto managing, producing, and co-writing for the band Lifehouse, whom Cole took under his wing. He is the co-founder of the Ironworks music label alongside actor Kiefer Sutherland.

Interscope Geffen A&M Records

Interscope Geffen A&M Records (IGA), also known as A&M Records Group, is an American umbrella label owned by Universal Music Group, consisting of record labels Interscope Records, Geffen Records, and A&M Records.

This is the discography of Geffen Records and its sister label DGC Records.

A&M Records American historical record label

A&M Records was an American record label founded as an independent company by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in 1962. Due to the success of the discography A&M released, the label garnered interest and was acquired by PolyGram in 1989 and began distributing releases from Polydor Ltd. from the UK. Throughout its operations, A&M housed well-known acts such as Gin Blossoms, Dishwalla, Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Captain & Tennille, Sting, Sergio Mendes, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Bryan Adams, Burt Bacharach, Liza Minnelli, The Carpenters, Paul Williams, Quincy Jones, Janet Jackson, Cat Stevens, Peter Frampton, Elkie Brooks, Carole King, Styx, Dennis DeYoung, Extreme, Amy Grant, Joan Baez, The Police, Jann Arden, CeCe Peniston, Shanice, Blues Traveler, Soundgarden, Duffy, and Sheryl Crow.

Jordan Schur American music executive

Jordan Schur is Co-Chairman and CEO of the film production company Mimran Schur Pictures. He is also the former President of Geffen Records & MCA Records, the founder of Flip Records and Suretone Records as well as the Chairman and CEO of the music, television, and film production company Suretone Entertainment.

2008 Universal Studios fire Fire that destroyed part of Universals backlot

On June 1, 2008, a fire broke out on the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood, an American film studio and theme park in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County, California. The fire began when a worker used a blowtorch to warm asphalt shingles that were being applied to a facade. He left before checking that all spots had cooled, and a three-alarm fire broke out. Nine firefighters and a Los Angeles County sheriffs' deputy sustained minor injuries. The fire was extinguished after 24 hours.

Neil Jacobson is an American music executive and former president of Geffen Records, which was later merged to form Interscope Geffen A&M Records under the ownership of Universal Music Group (UMG). Some of his notable clients while working as an A&R director and international publicist included performers such as Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Black Eyed Peas, as well as notable producers and songwriters, such as Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie, King Henry, Bipolar Sunshine, and Alex Salibian.

References

  1. Tom King, The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells the New Hollywood, pp. 303–307, Broadway Books (New York 2001).
  2. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1996-01-26-fi-28928-story.html
  3. Rocca, Francis X. (2009-07-31). "Pope signs with same label as Snoop Dogg, Ashlee Simpson". USA Today.
  4. Morris, Christopher (2011-06-21). "Gee Roberson named chairman of Geffen Records". Variety.
  5. Gensler, Andy (2017-03-24). "Neil Jacobson: How to Go From Golf Caddy to Geffen Records President". Billboard. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  6. Halperin, Shirley (2019-12-11). "Neil Jacobson Exits Geffen Records; Launches Crescent Drive Productions". Variety. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  7. "HITS Daily Double : Rumor Mill - GEFFEN'S LATEST MOVES". HITS Daily Double. Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  8. Records, Geffen. "Geffen Records". Universal Music Group.