Formation of Interscope:
became one of the most respected producers in pop music in the 1980s working on albums by artists ranging from Dire Straits to Stevie Nicks. In 1990 he decided to form a new label, Interscope, with Ted Field, heir to the Marshall Field family fortune. They received financial backing from Atlantic Records. The combination of strong financial resources and the music industry expertise of Jimmy Iovine would swiftly make the label a success story.
Early Successes For the Label:
The earliest hits for Interscope included Gerardo's "Rico Suave" and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's "Good Vibrations." In 1992 the newly formed rap label Death Row Records was looking for a major distributor for Dr. Dre's
album The Chronic
. The gangsta rap landmark was considered too explicit for most labels to touch the project. However, Interscope stepped in and set up a partnership. The Chronic
was a massive success. Interscope soon became known as a label that would sign and develop edgy new artists. Nine Inch Nails
were another early Interscope success story.
By 1995 political outcry was growing against gangsta rap and Interscope in particular was singled out as one of the strongest supporters of the genre. At the height of debates Warner Brothers Music, Interscopes' major label partner, was forced to sell its 50% share in Interscope. As they were exiting the Warner Family, Ted Field notably said, "We at Interscope will continue our tradition of providing a home for young and exciting artists." Enemies predicted this would be a seriously damaging blow for Interscope, but instead it became an opportunity.
Interscope Affiliation With Universal:
Shortly after severing ties with Warner Brothers in 1995, Interscope sold a 50% stake in the company to MCA Records which would later become Universal. Despite massive commercial success, following the criminal conviction of Death Row label head Marion Knight, in 1998 Interscope finally agreed to sever involvement with the controversial rap label. However, Interscope continued to prosper as part of the Universal Music Group.
New Label Successes:
In 1999 Interscope signed the rapper Eminem
who would change rap and popular music forever. No Doubt and Marilyn Manson were other Interscope success stories. Eminem brought rapper 50 Cent to Interscope in 2002. In 2004 Interscope was merged with Geffen Records and A&M Records in 2004 to form the Interscope Music Group. Gwen Stefani
launched her solo career signed to Interscope. Timbaland's
Mosley Music Group began operating as an Interscope imprint in 2006.
Interscope Launches Lady Gaga and Chart Domination By the Black Eyed Peas:
Interscope created the Cherrytree Records imprint in 2005 to market emerging artists. Cherrytree would soon hit its stride by launching recording acts like Lady Gaga
, Far East Movement
, and Feist into the pop mainstream. In 2009 Interscope became the first label to ever have the top four pop singles of the year on Billboard's
year end chart. These four songs included two by Lady Gaga and two by the Black Eyed Peas
Interscope and 'American Idol':
For the 10th season of American Idol in 2011, the show changed its long-term affiliation with Sony Music to the Interscope Records group as an official partner. Jimmy Iovine, still chairman of Interscope, became the in-house mentor for contestants working with them every week. As a result of this partnership American Idol brought in a wide range of Interscope affiliated producers to assist in mentoring. These included will.i.am, Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, and Alex da Kid. The top two contestants on the show were both signed to recording contracts with the Interscope group after the season ended.