Jive Records


Jive Records
Jive Records logo.svg
Parent companySony Music Entertainment
Founded1981; 40 years ago (1981)[1]
FounderClive Calder
  • Inactive
Distributor(s)Legacy Recordings (reissues)
Country of originUnited States
LocationNew York, New York
Official websitewww.rcarecords.com

Jive Records was an American independent record label founded by Clive Calder in 1981 as a subsidiary to the Zomba Group. Formerly headquartered in New York City, Jive was best known for its string of successes with hip hop artists in the 1980s and 1990s, along with teen pop and boy bands during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Jive was acquired by Bertelsmann Music Group in 2002.[2] In 2008, BMG itself was bought out by Sony Music Entertainment.[3] Jive Records thereupon remained a unit wholly owned by Sony up until the label’s dissolution in 2011, when Jive was absorbed into RCA Records.


1970s: Beginnings

In 1971, South African businessmen Clive Calder and Ralph Simon began a publishing and management company. It was named Zomba Records and relocated to London, England, four years later; their first client was a young Robert "Mutt" Lange. Zomba originally wanted to avoid record labels to instead focus on their songwriters and producers while allowing other established labels to release the material.[4] Later that decade, the company opened offices in the US, where Calder began a business relationship with Clive Davis, whose Arista Records began releasing material by Zomba artists.[4]

1980s: Formation and early distribution at Arista and RCA

In 1981, Zomba formed Jive Records, whose operations began with the release of British dance and pop music from groups such as Q-Feel, A Flock of Seagulls, and Tight Fit.[1] Its name was inspired by township Jive, a type of music that originated in South Africa.[5] Clive Davis had hoped that Zomba's connection with Mutt Lange would help alleviate the difficulties Arista was having with launching rock acts to success.

By 1982, Calder was introduced to Barry Weiss, a young college graduate who took Calder out to hip-hop clubs in New York City for his job interview with Zomba.[6] Weiss and Calder began grooming musicians for what would eventually become the hip hop group Whodini.[4] After two days, the group created and recorded its hit single "Magic's Wand." While the group would eventually leave Jive, the early success allowed the label to focus on hip-hop artists throughout the 1980s.[1][7] In 1987, Jive cut distribution ties with Arista, effectively separating them from Davis, who eschewed hip hop music at his label.[8] As the 1980s drew to a close, the label entered a distribution deal with Arista's sister label RCA Records, and it continued to sign hip hop acts including DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Too $hort, Schoolly D, in addition to white rap act Kid Rock.[7][9]

1990s: Hip hop and teen pop

In 1990, Calder bought Simon’s stake in Zomba and became the sole owner of Jive Records.[10][11] Jive's distribution deal with RCA expired in 1991. At this time, Bertelsmann Music Group acquired a minority share of the label and began to distribute its records directly.[12] Weiss became chief executive of Jive Records that year.[13] Jive opened branches in Chicago and had also become a premier label in the genres of hip hop and R&B with the success of acts like D-Nice, E-40, UGK, A Tribe Called Quest, Hi-Five, KRS-One/Boogie Down Productions, R. Kelly[14] and Aaliyah. In 1996, BMG deepened their relationship with the label by purchasing a 20 percent stake of Jive.[8] By the late 1990s, Jive began signing pop acts Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and Britney Spears. All three acts achieved massive success as the 2000s dawned, becoming the three best-selling acts in the label's history.[15]

2000s: Acquisition by BMG and Sony

In 2002, Calder sold Zomba to BMG for US$2.74 billion,[16][17] which at the time was the largest-ever acquisition of an independent label with major-label distribution.[18] Calder then announced his resignation from Zomba, but continued to stay on at Jive in a temporary advisory role as Zomba was integrated into BMG.[19] Weiss succeeded Calder as the new head of Zomba.[2][20] In 2004, BMG merged with Sony Music Entertainment to form Sony BMG.[21] During this time, Jive's management and distribution were restructured under the newly formed Zomba Label Group.[22] Artists who had previously been on LaFace and Arista Records were subsequently absorbed under the Zomba group and placed under the purview of Jive Records’ staff. Thus, artists such as Pink, Usher, and Outkast became de facto Jive artists. Though both physical record sales and teen pop had steadily declined since the early 2000s, the output from Jive’s newer artists — particularly Usher’s Confessions album and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below — would prove to be profitable successes for Jive. In addition to releasing Spears’ 2007 album Blackout,[23] Jive was now also the home of a solo Justin Timberlake, whose FutureSex/LoveSounds also saw high sales.[24] Other Jive artists at that time included Ciara[25] and Chris Brown.[26][27]

By early 2008, the BMG Label Group was said to include RCA Records, J Records, LaFace, Arista, Volcano Entertainment, Verity, GospoCentric and Fo Yo Soul — all overseen by Weiss.[28] Later that year, Sony and BMG dissolved its merger, with the former buying out shares of the latter.[29] As a result of Sony's buyout, Jive (along with its BMG sisters RCA and Arista) became a wholly owned unit of a refreshed Sony Music Entertainment.

2010s: Dormancy

After two decades as president of Jive, Barry Weiss left for Universal Music Group[30] in March 2011.[31][32] On October 7, 2011, it was announced that Jive, along with Arista and J Records, would be retired to refresh and re-brand RCA Records by not confusing or diluting it with other labels.[33] All retained artists on those labels were then moved to RCA Records.[34][35][30]

The label is currently in hibernation, with the distribution of its back catalog handled by Sony Music's Legacy Recordings. Previously, the Jive brand was being exclusively used under the Sony Music France division under the name Jive Epic in France until 2019, when it was absorbed into RCA Records France.[36]

Criticism and controversies

On 27 September 2021, singer R. Kelly was found guilty by a federal jury of acts including bribery and sexual exploitation of a child.[37] Allegations of Kelly’s sexual misconduct had long followed the singer since his early career with Jive in the early 1990s,[38][13] as well as throughout the 2000s when a video tape surfaced allegedly showing Kelly engaging in sexual acts with a minor and when Kelly was arrested for possession of child pornography.[39][40] Despite the scandals, Kelly remained signed to Jive’s roster and continued to release albums with the label up to 2010.[13] In 2018, the Washington Post ran a lengthy article alleging industry executives at Jive had been aware of Kelly's sexually abusive behavior towards young women for years, but did nothing about them due to his success as a performer and songwriter.[13] Though the article reported Clive Calder had been warned about Kelly’s behavior as early as 1994, Calder retrospectively told the Post he regretted not having done more at the time, saying "Clearly, we missed something”.[13] Former Jive president Barry Weiss told the newspaper that during his 20 years with the label, he never concerned himself with Kelly's private life, and was unaware of two lawsuits filed against Kelly and the label by women alleging sexual misconduct, suits in which the label had successfully argued it was not liable.[13] Larry Khan, another Jive executive who worked closely with the singer even after viewing the sex tape, similarly implied Kelly’s misconduct was not the label's responsibility.[13]



See also

Zomba Group of Companies

RCA/Jive Label Group

List of record labels


  1. ^ a b c Malan, Rian (25 July 2002). "The $3 Billion Man: Clive Calder". Rolling Stone. Vol. 901. pp. 26, 28.
  2. ^ a b Brandle, Lars; Christman, Ed; Spahr, Wolfgang (5 April 2003). "BMG 2002 Profits Up; Zomba Cuts Begin". Billboard. p. 7.
  3. ^ Kreps, Daniel (2 October 2008). "Sony Buys Out Bertelsmann, Ending Sony BMG". Rolling Stone.
  4. ^ a b c 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 978-1-4165-5215-4.
  5. ^ "History of Zomba Records Ltd". Fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  6. ^ Newman, Melinda (2008-04-25). "BMG's Weiss brings in business savvy". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 25 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b Goldstein, Patrick (1988-06-19). "A Rappin' Big Year for Little Jive Records". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ a b Seabrook, John (2015). "6 | Martin Sandberg's Terrible Secret". The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393241938.
  9. ^ "Kid Rock". Biography.
  10. ^ White, Adam; Newman, Melinda (5 May 2001). The Untold Saga of the Zomba Group. Billboard. 113. pp. 1, 98–100.
  11. ^ "Jive Talking". Forbes. 19 March 2001.
  12. ^ Holson, Laura M. (2002-06-12). "BMG to Buy Rest of Zomba, The Home Of Pop Stars". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Edgers, Geoff (4 May 2018). "How the music industry overlooked R. Kelly's alleged abuse of young women". Washington Post.
  14. ^ McAdams, Janine (14 November 1992). Jive Records Jibing in R&B Arena. Billboard. 104. pp. 20, 23.
  15. ^ Paoletta, Michael (30 October 1999). "Jive Rides Teen-pop Wave: Trend-savvy Label Looks Beyond Legal Tangles". Billboard. pp. 1, 72.
  16. ^ Leeds, Jeff (2007-07-23). "Oops! ...They Did It Again". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  17. ^ Arango, Tim (2002-11-27). "BMG GETS FLEECED – SHELLS OUT $2.74B FOR ZOMBA, WITHOUT CALDER". New York Post.
  18. ^ Green, Tim (2020-03-03). "'This business is about what's coming next. It always has been.'". Music Business Worldwide.
  19. ^ Benz, Matthew; Horwitz, Carolyn (7 December 2002). BMG's New Task: Maintaining Zomba's Culture, Creativity. Billboard. 114. pp. 3, 4.
  20. ^ Christman, Ed (7 August 2004). Sony BMG. Billboard. 116. p. 68.
  21. ^ Willis, Barry (2004-08-09). "Done Deal: Sony BMG". Stereophile.
  22. ^ Dansby, Andrew (14 January 2004). "L.A. Reid Exits Arista". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 6 September 2019.
  23. ^ Ollison, Rashod D. (27 October 2007). "Britney's back, breathy as ever". Baltimore Sun.
  24. ^ "Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds Enters the Billboard Top 200 as the #1 Album in the Country". Sony Music Entertainment. 20 September 2006.
  25. ^ "Ciara Pleas To Be Released From Jive". MTV News. 15 February 2011.
  26. ^ Hildebrand, Lee (2006-10-01). "Brown runs with it". SF Gate.
  27. ^ Wang, Amy X. (2020-03-06). "At Work With Barry Weiss, CEO of RECORDS". Rolling Stone.
  28. ^ Christman, Ed (26 April 2008). "Barry's Big Day" (PDF). Billboard. p. 10.
  29. ^ Hefflinger, Mark (5 August 2008). "Bertelsmann Sells Stake in Sony BMG for $1.2 Billion". Digital Media Wire. Archived from the original on 22 November 2008.
  30. ^ a b Perpetua, Matthew (7 October 2011). "RCA Folds Arista, Jive and J Records". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Barry Weiss Exits RCA/Jive". HITS Daily Double. 2 March 2011.
  32. ^ "Universal Music Hires Sony Executive Barry Weiss". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on 11 December 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  33. ^ Halperin, Shirley (2011-10-07). "RCA Execs Confirm Jive and Arista Labels Shut Down". The Hollywood Reporter.
  34. ^ Szalai, Georg (8 August 2011). "Peter Edge Named CEO of Sony's RCA Music Group". Hollywood Reporter.
  35. ^ Halperin, Shirley (12 July 2011). "L.A. Reid's First Week at Epic Has Some Staffers Feeling 'Energized'". Billboard. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011.
  36. ^ "Labels - Sony Music - France". Sony Music France.
  37. ^ Clifford, Tyler; Cohen, Luc (2021-09-28). "R. Kelly convicted of luring women, underage girls for sex". Reuters.
  38. ^ Closson, Troy (2021-08-30). "In R. Kelly Trial, the Verdict May Hinge on a Circle of Enablers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  39. ^ DeRogatis, Jim; Pallasch, Abdon M. (8 February 2002). "City police investigate R&B singer R. Kelly in sex tape". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 12 February 2002.
  40. ^ Susman, Gary (23 January 2003). "R. Kelly is arrested on porn charges...again". Entertainment Weekly.


External links

  • Zomba Label Group (Archived)
  • Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Archived)
  • Video interview with Jeff Fenster (Senior Vice President of A&R at Jive Records)
  • Jive Records discography at Discogs
  • Jive Records publishing catalog at MusicBrainz