3 x LP U.S.A.
Motown is an American record company founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. in 1959 in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit. Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music by achieving a crossover success. In the 1960s, Motown and its subsidiaries were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as "The Motown Sound", a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence. During the 1960s, Motown achieved spectacular success for a small record company: 79 records in the Billboard Top Ten between 1960 and 1969.
Gordy originally set up two nominally separate labels (Tamla Records and Motown Records) in 1959, in order to avoid accusations of payola should DJs play too many records from one label. The two labels featured the same writers, producers and artists, and they were both formally incorporated together as Motown Record Corporation (commonly referred to simply as "Motown") on April 14, 1960.
Early Tamla/Motown artists included Mable John, Eddie Holland and Mary Wells. "Shop Around", the Miracles' first number 1 R&B hit, peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. It was Tamla's first million-selling record. On April 14, 1960, Motown and Tamla Records merged into a new company called Motown Record Corporation. A year later, The Marvelettes scored Tamla's first US number-one pop hit, "Please Mr. Postman". By the mid-1960s, the label, with the help of songwriters and producers such as Robinson, A&R chief William "Mickey" Stevenson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Norman Whitfield, was a major force in the music industry.
By 1998, Motown had added stars such as 702, Brian McKnight, and Erykah Badu to its roster. In December 1998, PolyGram was acquired by Seagram, and Motown was absorbed into the Universal Music Group. Ironically, Seagram had purchased Motown’s former parent MCA in 1995, as such Motown was in effect reunited with many of its MCA corporate siblings (Seagram had, in fact, hoped to build a media empire around Universal, and started by purchasing PolyGram). Universal briefly considered shuttering the floundering label, but instead decided to restructure it. Kedar Massenburg, a producer for Erykah Badu, became the head of the label, and oversaw successful recordings from Badu, McKnight, Michael McDonald, and new Motown artist India.Arie.
Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and The Temptations had remained with the label since its early days, although all except Wonder recorded for other labels for several years. Ross left Motown for RCA Records from 1981 to 1988, but returned in 1989 and stayed until 2002. Robinson left the label in the early 1990s, and the Temptations left a second time in 2004. Wonder is, today, the only artist from Motown's early period still on the label.
Over the course of its history, the Motown Corporation has owned or distributed more than 45 labels in varying genres.