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Geffen Records is an American record label, owned by Universal Music Group, and operated as one third of UMG's Interscope-Geffen-A&M label group.

Company history

Beginnings

Geffen Records was founded in 1980 by music industry businessman David Geffen 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 Brothers Pictures. He was fired from Warner circa 1978, but remained locked in a 5-year contract, preventing him from working elsewhere. He returned to work in 1980 and struck a deal with Warner Bros. Records to create Geffen Records. Warner provided 100 percent of the funding for the label's operations, while Geffen retained 50 percent of the profits, and distributed its records. (International distribution outside the US and Canada, meanwhile, was handled by CBS from 1980-1985, WEA then took over distribution until 1990.)

Geffen Records' first signee was disco superstar Donna Summer, whose gold-selling album The Wanderer became the label's first release in 1980. The label followed it up with Double Fantasy by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was Lennon's first new album since 1975. Two days 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 are now owned by EMI).

As the 1980s progressed, Geffen would go on have success with such acts as Quarterflash, Oxo, Asia, Wang Chung, Kylie Minogue and Sammy Hagar.In the meantime, the label continued to sign a handful of established music icons, including: Elton John, Cher, 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 (US only), Guns N' Roses, Tesla, and the mainstream comeback of '70s era rockers Aerosmith. This prompted Geffen to create a subsidiary label, named DGC Records in 1990, which focused on more progressive sounds and would later embrace the emergence of alternative rock, Nirvana being an example. Geffen also 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 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 and collaborated with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg to form DreamWorks SKGmarker, an ambitious multimedia empire dealing in film, television, books, and music. Geffen Records would distribute releases on the new operation's DreamWorks Records subsidiary.

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 (who also took over distribution of DreamWorks Records).

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 catalogues) led to a more diverse roster; with former MCA artists such as Mary J. Blige, The Roots, Blink-182, and Common now featured on the label. Meanwhile, DreamWorks Records also folded, with artists such as Nelly Furtado and Rufus Wainwright being absorbed by Geffen as well. DGC Records was folded in 2003 and now only functions to reissue Nirvana's recordings.

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 back 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.

Labels under Geffen



Artists

List of Geffen Records artists

See also



References

External links




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