History of Record Labels and the Music Industry: 1980s
by Alex Cosper

Introduction 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

see also American Radio History


- IRS Records was formed in the early eighties by Miles Copeland, the brother of Police drummer Stewart Copeland.

- In a joint venture, Philips and Sony teamed up and unveiled their creation of the compact disc in 1981 and began making CDs and players commercially available in 1982.

- Capricorn Records temporarily went out of business in 1980. Neil Bogart set up his final label, Boardwalk, in 1980. It would feature hit act Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Bogart died of cancer in 1982.

- Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons set up Def Jam, the first definitive rap label in 1984. Their first big success was with Run-DMC a few years later. In 1988 Rubin broke away and launched Def American Records.

- General Electric bought RCA Victor in 1985 and then sold it to BMG in 1986. The next big conglomerate to enter the music field involved the merger of Time and Warner.

- Sugar Hill Records went bankrupt in 1986.

- Sub Pop Records was started in Seattle in 1986 by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poreman.

- CBS acquired Monument in 1986.

- In 1987 Sony purchased Columbia for $2 billion. In 1988 Motown was acquired by MCA. Time and Warner went into a merger which was completed two years later.

- Matador Records is founded in 1989 by Chris Lombardi, who operates out of his New York apartment. It becomes a label dedicated to unique alternative acts. Half of the company will be purchased by Beggars Banquet in 2002.

- By the end of the eighties the top major labels were Sony, Warner, PolyGram, BMG, EMI and MCA.

Introduction 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

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