Published Oct 07, 2011The death knell has rung for Jive, J and Arista records, but there's two ways we can look at it. The first, and arguably the most logical, is that the state of the record industry is ever-dwindling, and that labels that once thrived in the multi-millions sales of artists like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are now kicking the bucket. The positive spin, however, is that the absorption of all three imprints into parent company RCA, itself owned by Sony Music, is that it makes the banner brand stronger. Tell that to the employees affected by a round of layoffs, though.
"The path we've taken is to refresh RCA, so we're going to retire those brands," RCA president Tom Corson told The Hollywood Reporter. "There may be a reason down the line to bring them back, but it's a clean slate here."
"The concept is that there is value in branding RCA and not having it confused or diluted by other labels," he continued. "The artists have all been supportive. We didn't make this move without consulting our artists, and we haven't had any push-back. Frankly, they're the brand. We're defined by our artists."
Each label had an impressive arsenal of artists throughout the years. Founded in 1974, Arista released albums by Whitney Houston, Outkast, Usher and did tie-in deals with LaFace and Bad Boy Records. They did, on the other hand, release Milli Vanilli.
Founded in 1977, Jive became a force in R&B and hip-hop in the '80s and '90s as the label for DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, R. Kelly, Boogie Down Productions and more. In the 00s, however, the label capitalized on boy bands and pop singers, with the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and Britney Spears heading the stable. Recent acts included Chris Brown and Cage the Elephant
J. records, the newest of the three imprints, was founded by industry mogul Clive Davis, who also formed Arista, in 2000 and featured heavy-hitters Alicia Keys, and Pitbull. All artists still affiliated with the labels at the time of the restructuring are now under the RCA umbrella.
Inevitably, combining the companies has resulted in downsizing. Prompted by Sony Music head Doug Morris, RCA CEO Peter Edge feels the move was necessary in today's marketplace.
"Doug is intent on making A&R the focus of RCA and the new focus of Sony Music. The big initiative here is to spend more money on artist development, making more records and making better records and less on all of the other stuff. I happen to agree with him."
RCA was founded in 1929 and is the second oldest existing record company, behind Columbia.