1 January

Pick a Day

Music History Events: Record Deals

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April 3, 2008 Jay-Z joins Madonna and U2 in signing a huge contract with Live Nation; he scores a 360 deal that includes his own label.More

December 7, 1998 The Indiana University a cappella group Straight No Chaser perform their zany rendition of "Twelve Days of Christmas" at the school. In 2006, a video of the performance is uploaded to YouTube and goes viral, earning the group a record deal and sending the song to #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

January 4, 1991 Nirvana sign with Geffen Records. In September, their album Nevermind is released.

July 25, 1989 After leaving Def Jam, Beastie Boys release their second album, Paul's Boutique, on Capitol Records.More

November 15, 1988 After hitting it huge with their 1986 debut album, Licensed to Ill, Beastie Boys leave the label and sign with Capitol Records.More

March 25, 1986 Guns N' Roses sign with Geffen Records, which in addition to making sure the band records an album, has to keep them alive and out of jail, which is no easy task. It pays off when Appetite For Destruction goes on to sell over 18 million copies just in America.

May 18, 1981 After nearly 20 years with Motown Records, Diana Ross leaves the label and signs a record $20 million contract with RCA. Her hit duet "Endless Love" is released on Motown in August even though she has left the label.

July 2, 1980 Sheena Easton is featured on the BBC show The Big Time, which follows regular people trying to achieve their dreams. With visions of stardom as a singer, she is seen auditioning for EMI, who are suitably impressed and sign her to a deal. Her single "9 To 5" becomes a UK hit two months later and conquers America a year later.

October 19, 1979 Following a vicious legal battle with MCA Records, the third Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers album, Damn The Torpedoes, is released on the label's new subsidiary, Backstreet Records.More

May 12, 1977 The Sex Pistols sign with Virgin Records for £15,000 after being dropped by both EMI and A&M. This one takes, and Virgin issues their landmark album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. "I've always liked Richard Branson because, pompous rich t--t that he is, he has a great sense of rebelliousness," lead singer Johnny Rotten says.

August 5, 1975 Stevie Wonder signs the largest contract for a single artist in history: $13 million over seven years for seven albums with Tamla/Motown.

June 30, 1975 The Jackson 5 announce they will be leaving Motown Records for Epic Records and changing their name to The Jacksons because Motown owns The Jackson 5 name.

July 26, 1968 Auditioned to a sheen by their father Joe, The Jackson 5 join Motown Records, signing a one-year contract. They move from their home in Gary, Indiana, to Los Angeles, where they became huge stars, hitting #1 in the US with their first four singles.

May 15, 1963 The Rolling Stones sign with Decca Records in London, the label that turned down The Beatles the year before.

March 8, 1963 The Four Tops get a $400 advance to sign with Motown. They spend the rest of the year singing backup for other acts, including The Supremes.

January 15, 1961 The Supremes sign with Motown Records. Along with Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, there is a fourth member, Barbara Martin, who leaves a year later. All except Martin are under 18 (Ross is 16) and need parental consent, which is granted after label boss Berry Gordy and his sister, Esther, win over their parents.

February 8, 1956 Buddy Holley becomes "Buddy Holly" when he signs a recording contract with Decca Records that leaves out the "e" in his last name.

November 20, 1955 In the music equivalent to the Babe Ruth trade, Sun Records owner Sam Phillips sells Elvis Presley's contract to RCA for $35,000. It wasn't all bad for Phillips: Presley had just one year left on his contract, and Phillips invested the money in a local hotel chain called the Holiday Inn, which made him a bigger fortune than anything he did in music.

September 17, 1952 Frank Sinatra does his last recording session for Columbia Records. His next musical move is signing to Capitol Records, where he teams up with arranger Nelson Riddle and revives his career with swinging hits like "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Witchcraft."

September 30, 1997 Randy Travis becomes the first artist to ink a deal with DreamWorks Records Nashville. His signing instantly raises the stock of the new country label.

March 20, 1991 Michael Jackson signs the largest contract renewal in history to the time, inking a $65 million deal with Sony.

July 17, 1987 Keith Richards signs a solo deal with Virgin Records.

September 21, 1980 Elton John leaves longtime label MCA and signs with David Geffen's new label for a six-year contract.

June 19, 1980 Donna Summer is the first artist to sign with Geffen Records.

November 29, 1979 Paul Simon hits his record label, CBS, with two lawsuits in an attempt to break his contract.

August 5, 1979 Phonogram Records signs Def Leppard.

June 6, 1979 A gig at a British club gets a good review and leads to a record deal for Def Leppard.

February 23, 1978 The Police sign with A&M Records.

May 6, 1977 The Boomtown Rats sign their first major label recording contract.

May 10, 1974 Led Zeppelin launch their record label, Swan Song, with lavish parties in London and Los Angeles. Bad Company and Dave Edmunds both record for the label, which shuts down in 1983.

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