Republic Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group (UMG). It was founded by Avery Lipman and Monte Lipman as an independent label in 1995, and was acquired by UMG in 2000. Republic was initially an imprint of the Universal/Motown Records Group, and was renamed Universal Republic Records after a reorganization in 2006 before going back to its original name in 2012.
Foundation and Universal Records: 1995–2005
According to Avery Lipman, he and his brother Monte conceived Republic Records at the kitchen table in their apartment:
- My brother and I had been working at record companies. He was in between jobs and we started putting records out as a hobby. We had a grassroot approach to the business. The first record we put out happened to work really well. That was the Bloodhound Gang.
Republic Records was formed in 1995 as a subsidiary of MCA's Geffen Records, but soon after its foundation, the distribution changed to the newly established Universal Records. In January 2000, it was announced that the Universal Music Group acquired the Lipman brothers' Republic Records as a wholly owned subsidiary. Monte Lipman was named president of the Universal Records label, while Avery Lipman became Republic's president.
Universal Republic Records: 2006–2012
In 2006, corporate restructuring saw the formation of Universal Republic Records through a merger between the two labels. Monte Lipman became the president and CEO of the restructured label while Avery Lipman served as co-president and COO. That same year, Gary Spangler joined the label as Vice President of Crossover Promotion, later becoming the Executive Vice President of Promotion. Other changes were made at the label's parent, Universal Motown Republic Group, during the summer of 2011. Universal Motown Records was shut down, transferring its artists to the newly recreated Motown Records or Universal Republic Records. The umbrella label was merged with the Island Def Jam Music Group, making Universal Republic Records a stand-alone label and shutting down the Universal Motown Republic Group. In August 2011, the restructured Universal Republic signed Ariana Grande to a record contract.
Republic Records revival: 2012–present
In October 2012, Universal Republic Records returned to the Republic Records moniker. Just prior to the label's return to the Republic name, it signed Canadian artist, The Weeknd, through his imprint label, XO. In addition to artists' albums, the label has released soundtracks with Universal Pictures (Fifty Shades of Grey), the Fox Broadcasting Company (Star), and NBC (The Voice), among numerous other partnerships, films, and television series. Republic Records had songs in six of the top-10 spots on the Mediabase Top 40 Chart in 2015, tying a 2013 record. Also in 2015, the label signed American rapper and singer, Post Malone.
In November 2017, the company was named Variety's Hitmaker Label of the Year. In 2018, Taylor Swift signed to Republic Records after releasing her music through the Republic imprint, Big Machine Records, for a majority of her career. Early 2019 saw the signing of a reunited Jonas Brothers, as well.
Also in 2019, Republic Records was named the "Label of the Year" by both Billboard and Variety. It has been Billboard's label of the year for 4 of the last 5 years and Variety's for each of the last three. Republic was also named Billboard's Hot 100 Label of the Year for the sixth straight time, having accumulated 5 number one singles over the course of the year. Five Republic albums (Ariana Grande's Thank U, Next, Taylor Swift's Lover, Post Malone's Beerbongs & Bentleys, Drake's Scorpion and Post Malone's Hollywood's Bleeding) also appeared in the top 10 of the year-end Billboard 200 chart.
In 2020, Republic Records partnered up with JYP Entertainment for the Korean Girl Group TWICE as the group's first American label and distributor. TWICE will be first artist from JYP Entertainment to be powered under the alliance. TWICE's signing represents a diversifying market for K-pop in America.
In October 2020, an investigation made by Rolling Stone editor Elias Leight was published by the magazine. Among 2,500 text messages obtained by the magazine, several suggested a link between airplay and record label payments, including a message made by independent radio promoter Steve Zap to one station in August 2019 saying "Republic sweating me already", asking to put one of their artists on "super power" rotation. Zap's texts refer to "adjusting airplay to help labels achieve chart goals in key weeks". A spokesperson for Universal Music Group, corporation which owns Republic Records, stated that "all third-party radio promotion contractors annually submit affidavits to UMG certifying their compliance with strict rules and regulations, including prohibitions that expressly forbid providing anything of value to a radio station or a radio station employee in exchange for increased airtime".