Jive Records was a record label based in New York City, operating under RCA Music Group. Jive was primarily known for a string of successes with hip hop artists in the 1980s, and in teen pop and boy bands in the late 1990s. The word "jive" was inspired by Township Jive, a form of South African music and dance. Jive operated as an independently managed label until 2002 when Bertelsmann Music Group acquired the remainder of Zomba for US $2.74 billion, which was at the time the largest-ever acquisition of an independent label with major-label distribution.
Zomba, Jive's parent company, was formed in the mid seventies as a publishing and management company on Willesden Street in London and their first client was a young Mutt Lange. Initially, co-founders Ralph Simon and Clive Calder wanted to stay away from record labels, choosing to focus on their songwriters and producers while allowing other established labels to release the material. Later in the seventies, Zomba opened offices in the United States where Calder began a business relationship with Clive Davis, whose Arista Records began releasing material by Zomba artists. Arista had been having trouble pushing rock acts in the US, and Clive Davis had hoped that with Zomba's Mutt Lange connection, the newly formed Jive would fill that role. However, Calder had other ideas. In 1981, Jive began operations by releasing British dance and pop music such as Q-Feel, A Flock of Seagulls and Tight Fit.
1990s and Onward
By the late 1990s, despite its reputation for dealing heavily in hip-hop, Jive signed pop acts Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, and Britney Spears—all of whom achieved massive success as the 2000s dawned, and would become the three best-selling acts in the label's history. In 1991, Barry Weiss became CEO and president of Jive Records. In 2010 they introduced a new up and coming artist named Braxton, with and urban vibe and newer hip-hop style it caused him to die down into the industry.
After two decades, Barry Weiss left Jive in March 2011 for Universal Music Group.
The company was later restructured with some Jive artists moving to a restructured Epic Records, while others stayed with Jive as it moved under the RCA Music Group.
On October 7, 2011, it was announced that Jive, along with Arista Records and J Records would be shuttered. All artists on those labels were moved to RCA Records.
Upon its launch, US distribution was handled by Arista Records until 1987. Following the creation of BMG the same year, distribution of Jive switched to RCA Records. Jive's distribution deal with RCA expired in 1991, at which time BMG purchased a large minority stake Zomba's records division (including Jive) and became its distributor. In the mid nineties, Jive's distribution network varied from region to region. Depending on the territory, distribution may have been with BMG, Virgin, Zomba's own distribution company, or other smaller independent labels. When Zomba was purchased by BMG, BMG became the sole worldwide distributor again. Between 2004 and late 2008, distribution switched to Sony BMG in accordance with the merger of Sony and BMG. Since early 2009, Sony Music Entertainment became the sole distributor of Jive because of its purchase of BMG's stake in the 2004–2008 venture between the two companies.