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Originally a British label with South African roots, Jive Records was founded in 1977 by Clive Calder in London after acquiring British citizenship. Its original parent company, Zomba, was named after the capitol of Malawi. One of Jive's earliest successes was Whodini, its first US signing and first major success there.

In 2002, Jive's parent label Zomba was in flux, considering worldwide distribution with EMI. In order to combat this, BMG purchased the entire Zomba Group for US.74 billion, making it the largest acquisition to date of a major-distributed independent label after A&M, Geffen, Island, and Virgin were acquired over the years by the major labels in gigantic deals. In a restructuring after the acquisition, the Zomba name came to prominence as it became a full label group under the BMG umbrella. Other BMG labels were placed under Zomba’s aegis as well. The Zomba Label Group was relatively unscathed when BMG merged with Sony Music in 2004, forming Sony BMG Music Entertainment. Barry Weiss ran the label’s US operations since the beginning.

Betwen 2004 and 2008, Jive was a part of the Zomba Label Group, a unit of Sony BMG Music Entertainment. Following the dissolution of Sony BMG in late 2008, the Zomba name was replaced with Jive, which became the flagship label of the Jive Label Group, one half of the RCA/JIVE Label Group.

The RCA/Jive Label Group was dissolved in mid-2011 with many of Jive's urban artists heading to Epic, while the pop arists went with RCA. On October 7, 2011, shortly after the split, RCA stated that they were "shuttering" the Jive brand (along with J Records and Arista) and focusing on promoting RCA as their brand. Though these entities will cease to exist independently, there are long-term goals to reinstate the brands.

Years are approximate and for North America only. In the late nineties and up until about 2003, Zomba offices worldwide distributed Jive products using a variety of different companies. For a list of regional distributors, see this chart. After BMG purchased Jive and Zomba, they began worldwide distribution as the regional deals ended.

     
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