Then there were 5... In 1998, Seagrams, which already owned Universal Music Group*, bought Polygram and the labels were merged. When the merger was complete, the labels were defined much as they are now. On the east coast: Universal/Motown and Island/Def Jam; on the west coast: MCA Records and IGA (Interscope/Geffen/A&M**); as well as many smaller genre and affiliated labels.
* One of the brighter moves in industry history: When Seagram's brought Doug Morris in as Chairman of MCA at the end of 1995, the label underwent a major image change. MCA, the once prestigious Music Corporation of America, had become more popularly known as the "music cemetery of America" and was clearly in need of new branding. Although MCA lived on, a new east coast label, Universal Records, was literally birthed overnight and the group of labels became known as the Universal Music Group.
** One of the dumber moves in merger history: In the Universal/Polygram merger a decision was made to retain the Universal subsidiary MCA Records, but eliminate the Polygram subsidiary, A&M Records. The move not only raised questions about the direction of the company, but also breached a contract that came back to bite them in the ass. Adding insult to injury, they sold the historical A&M studio lot to Henson. The MCA brand never recovered from it's tarnished image anyway and continued to lose millions and ruin artists careers for several more years before it was finally laid to rest in 2003.
Then there were 4... In 2003, Sony and BMG announced a merger. Details still unfolding and I'll be back with many of them and the dumbest move ever made in the history of the music industry.
BMG North America Spins On Its Axis RCA Music Group Absorbs Arista; Barry Weiss To Head Newly Formed Zomba Label Group Reporting to Clive Davis
Internal memo: Warner Music Group: Series of necessary restructuring steps
New Zealand Googled this...