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Jive Records
Parent company Sony Music Entertainment
Founded 1981
Founder Clive Calder
Distributing label RCA/Jive Label Group
(In the US)United States
RCA Records
(Outside the US)
Genre Various
Country of origin UK
Location New York, New York
Official Website Official website

Jive Records is a record label based in New York City, owned by Sony Music Entertainment, and operating under the Zomba Label Group. Jive is primarily known for a string of successes with hip hop and rap artists in the 1980s, and in teen pop and boy bands in the late 1990s. The word "jive" was inspired by Township Jive, a form of South African music and dance. Jive operated as an independently managed label until 2002 when Bertelsmann Music Group acquired the remainder of Zomba for US $2.74 billion, which was at the time the largest-ever acquisition of an independent label with major-label distribution.





Zomba, Jive's parent company, was formed in the mid seventies as a publishing and management company on Willesden Street in London and their first client was a young Mutt Lange. Initially, co-founders Ralph Simon and Clive Calder wanted to stay away from record labels, choosing to focus on their songwriters and producers while allowing other established labels to release the material.[1] Later in the seventies, Zomba opened offices in the United States where Calder began a business relationship with Clive Davis, whose Arista Records began releasing material by Zomba artists.

Hip Hop and Rap in the Eighties

When Calder and Simon started Jive Records in 1981, Davis was having trouble pushing rock acts in North America, and thought that this could be a role for Jive to fill with its Mutt Lange connection. The labels early roster included, Tight Fit, A Flock of Seagulls, Billy Ocean and Samantha Fox. However, Calder had other ideas for what Jive would become. He found a young local college grad named Barry Weiss who was familiar with the hip hop scene in the city, and together they began grooming musicians to form Whodini.[2] In 1987, Jive cut distribution ties with Arista, freeing them from the authority Davis, who was known to be opposed to hip hop at the time. As the 1980s drew to a close, Jive went on to sign a plethora of hip-hop acts, including: Too Short and Schoolly D. By the early-mid 1990s, Jive had become a premiere label in the genre of hip-hop, thanks to the success of acts like Whodini, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, E-40, A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, and R&B acts such as Aaliyah and R. Kelly.

Pop in the Nineties

By the late 1990s, despite its reputation for dealing heavily in hip-hop, Jive signed pop acts Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, and Britney Spears—all of whom achieved massive success as the 2000s dawned, and would become the three best-selling acts in the label's history.[3] In 1991, Barry Weiss became CEO and president of Jive Records.



Upon its launch, US distribution was handled by Arista Records until 1987. Following the creation of BMG the same year, distribution of Jive switched to RCA Records. Jive's distribution deal with RCA expired in 1991, at which time BMG purchased a large minority stake Zomba's records division (including Jive) and became their distributor. In the mid nineties, Jive's distribution network varied from region to region. Depending on the territory, distribution may have been with BMG, Virgin, Zomba's own distribution company or other smaller independent labels. When Zomba was purchased by BMG, BMG becamee the sole worldwide distributor again. Between 2004 and late 2008 distribution switched to Sony BMG in accordance with the merger of Sony and BMG. Since early 2009, Sony Music Entertainment distributes Jive products worldwide.



  1. ^ Knopper, Steve (2009). Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. New York: Free Press. pp. 80-104. ISBN 9781416552154.  
  2. ^ Malan, Rian (July 25, 2002). "The $3 Billion Man: Clive Calder". Rolling Stone 901: 26, 28.  
  3. ^ [1][2]

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