Arista Records is an American record label that is owned by Sony Music Entertainment. It was founded in November 1974 by Clive Davis and reestablished in 2018. In 1974 Davis was recruited by Alan Hirschfield, CEO of Columbia Pictures, after being fired from CBS Records. His position was initially to be a consultant for the company’s record and music operations. With a $10 million investment by CPI, Davis introduced Arista Records, holding owning 20 percent of the company. Arista was named after Davis’ public secondary school honor society in New York City. Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
Arista had an imprint label in the 1970s called Arista Novus. Artista Novus focused on contemporary jazz artists. It also distributed Arista Freedom, which specialized in avant-garde jazz and GRP Records, which specialized in contemporary jazz and smooth jazz. They also produced a country music division, Career Records, which merged into the Arista Nashville division in 1997. Arista was also the U.S. distributor of Jive Records from 1981 until 1987. In the 1990s, Arista also distributed Logic, Rowdy and Heavenly Recordings. BMG fired Davis in 2000 as president/CEO due to age restrictions.
L.A. Reid was Davis’ replacement. The label had success with newer acts such as Avril Lavigne, Pink, and Kelis however Reid didn’t have the same luck and success with bigger acts like TLC, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston and others. Reid mistakenly put more money in promoting newer artists and less into promoting those already established. In only two years Reid lost Artisa over $100 million. BMG and Sony Music Entertainment merged in 2004 and in January of that year Reid was fired. Arista was merged with J Records in August 2005. Arista and J record labels began operating under RCA Music Group which Davis was re-instated as CEO of. Since then the company has hired former Island Records president/CEO David Massey to lead Arista.
Arista Records signed many known artists starting with people like Aretha Franklin (Queen of Soul), Prince, OutKast, Babyface, Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G, and TLC. With those legendary artists, there are still more that remain making music today such as Usher, Alicia Keys, Toni Braxton, and Pharell Williams. One of our most successful signing artists would be Whitney Houston.
Her singing career started only at the age of 14. Whitney began as a gospel singer following the footsteps of her mother but then when founded by Clive Davis she moved into pop stardom. Whitney was found in a nightclub and was signed immediately at the age of 19 in April 1983. She became one of our best selling artists and the most influential and successful female recording artists. She had over 200 million albums, singles, and videos sold worldwide, 3 RIAA Diamond certified albums, 22 American Music Awards, 6 grammys and 2 grammy Hall of Fame inductions, 7 consecutive #1 singles, and multiple Billboard Music Awards, Soul train Music, World Music, People’s Choice and more. Houston was signed with a contract worth $100 million dollars which was the biggest contract ever and it was worth it. She released her debut album titled “Whitney Houston” in 1985 only two years after being signed and then won a grammy the following year for her song “Saving All My Love For You”.
Year and year after that she continued making hits and receiving her rightful awards for it. Sadly, Whitney soon passed in 2012. Although this was a tragedy, she surely made a name for herself while she was here that still carries on today. This was her last song before passing.