Interscope Records

Interscope Records

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Interscope Records
Parent company Universal Music Group
Founded 1990
Founder(s) Jimmy Iovine
Ted Field
Distributing label Interscope-Geffen-A&M
(In the US)
Polydor Records
(Outside of the US)
Genre(s) Various
Country of origin United States
Location Santa Monica, California
Official Website

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



Interscope was formed in 1990 by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field with financial support from Atlantic Records which owned a 53% stock in the label. Upon their launch, they were initially distributed by Atlantic Records subsidiary East West Records. A&R Executive John McClain and producer Beau Hill were also part of the original founding team.

The label's first release was Latin-rapper Gerardo, who scored a top 5 gold hit with "Rico Suave" in the spring of 1991. During this time, Interscope also signed rapper Tupac Shakur, Primus, No Doubt, and Nine Inch Nails.

Death Row Records

Though Interscope seemed to be on a roll with its first few releases, the label was faced with criticism for manufacturing what was considered cookie-cutter hip-hop. That changed when, in 1992, Iovine financially assisted Suge Knight and Dr. Dre in the formation of Death Row Records, and arranged for Interscope to distribute its records. The joint venture hit pay-dirt when Death Row and Interscope released The Chronic, the solo debut album from Dr. Dre. Released in December, the album became a seminal hit into the new year; eventually going triple platinum, and furthermore introduced the then up-and-coming Snoop Dogg-whose own debut album Doggystyle was released in late 1993 and became a monstrous success as well, selling over 800,000 in its first week of release.

Following the success of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Death Row and Interscope became powerful labels in the industry, both collectively and respectively. With this acclaim, however, came criticism from various sources over the gangsta rap image that was being perpetuated. Feeling the heat from activist groups, Time Warner (Interscope's parent company) refused to distribute Death Row's next slated release, Dogg Food by Tha Dogg Pound, which had been originally scheduled for release in June 1995. The album was subsequently pushed back, while Death Row and Interscope made an outside deal with Priority Records to distribute that album upon its release.

The controversy swirling around Death Row and Interscope made Time Warner's shareholders nervous, so much so that in late 1995, the company sold all of its stake in Interscope Records to MCA Music Entertainment (later renamed Universal Music Group). Not wanting to take on the scrutiny that plagued Time Warner, MCA too initially refused to distribute many of Interscope's Death Row releases; most notably All Eyez on Me, the much anticipated forthcoming Death Row debut album by Tupac Shakur, which was later certified Diamond in the U.S. This forced Death Row and Interscope to strike a deal with Island Records to distribute that particular album outside of its home base.

Death Row began to collapse in 1996 following the death of Shakur, the incarceration of Knight and departure of Dr. Dre, who had left a year earlier. In August 1997, Interscope (under pressure from Universal Music Group) made the decision to sell off all of its share in the label. Interscope, however, has continued to release posthumous albums by Shakur in conjunction with Amaru Entertainment.


Though Interscope initially made a name for itself as a label dealing heavily in hip-hop and urban music, by the mid 2000s, its range began to expand and, subsequently, the company would eventually experience success with artists in all genres, for example, the industrial rock artist Nine Inch Nails (Nothing Records), shock rocker Marilyn Manson, Limp Bizkit, Helmet, No Doubt and most recently, the Latin artist Kings Of Flow[1] in a unique partnership with Los Angeles based indie Latin label.[2]

Following UMG's acquisition of PolyGram in 1998, Geffen Records and A&M Records were merged into Interscope-making it the extremely powerful and leading unit at UMG that it is today. In 2004, Dreamworks Records was merged into the Interscope-Geffen-A&M group bringing over such artists as Blink-182, Papa Roach, Rise Against, Nelly Furtado, Lifehouse, AFI, The All-American Rejects, Jimmy Eat World and Rufus Wainwright among others (the artists were divided between Interscope and Geffen, with most going to the latter). In 2005, Interscope launched a new imprint called Cherrytree Records, for emerging artists; beginning with group The Lovemakers and now includes Far East Movement, Feist, Flipsyde, Tokio Hotel, Mindless Behavior, JoJo, Roscoe Dash, Lady Gaga, and Vic Monroe and Robyn, but although Lady Gaga is still with Interscope, she's no longer with Cherrytree. In May 2007, Interscope announced a joint-venture partnership with Justin Timberlake to create a new recording label called Tennman Records, with the first artist being Esmee Denters. Early 2010 saw Interscope signing South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord,[3] marking the first time a South African act has caught their attention, through an effective viral marketing campaign and a Facebook following of close to 50,000 fans and millions of hits on YouTube.[4]


Rapper Ice Cube has criticized Interscope for its use of Tupac Shakur's music in his song "Child Support". Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor has also criticized Universal Music Group for overcharging his album Year Zero in Australia. When he asked why it was so much, they replied "you've got a core audience that's gonna buy whatever we put out, so we can charge more for that [...] True fans will pay whatever".[5] Nine Inch Nails is now a part of their own record label The Null Corporation and no longer associates with Interscope.

Salaried artists

At the SXSW conference in 2006, Interscope lawyer Darryl Franklin said during a panel discussion, that the contract with the group The Pussycat Dolls is unique in that its members are actually salaried employees of the record label and, by design, completely interchangeable. This means that in addition to CD sales, the label also controls merchandise, web sites and all other commercial aspects of the group and their income, excluding songwriting.


  • Current Interscope Records artists
  • Former Interscope Records artists

See also

  • List of record labels
  • Interscope Records discography


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3] Die Antwoord trading beats with Eminem?, Eyewitness News, 20 March 2010
  4. [4] Die Antwoord hit the US,
  5. Q & A with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Herald Sun. Accessed January 6, 2009

External links

This page was last modified 06.05.2011 15:37:25

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