Asylum Records is an American , founded in 1971 by and partner . It was taken over by (now the ) in 1972, and later merged with to become . After various incarnations, it is currently geared primarily towards , along with and . It is owned and distributed by Warner Music Group.



Asylum was founded in 1971 by , and partner , both of whom had previously worked as agents at the , and operated a / label. They had also previously founded their own management company. While unsuccessfully pitching a recording contract for their client to president , Geffen said, "You'll make a lot of money." Ertegun replied, "You know what, David, I have a lot of money. Why don't you start a record company and then you'll have a lot of money." A deal was then struck in which Ertegun would put up the initial funds, Atlantic Records would distribute Asylum Records, and the profits would be split 50/50. Although they knew they would sign Browne, the first act that Geffen asked to join the label was his close friend , whose career he was managing at the time. Nyro initially agreed, but without Geffen's knowledge she changed her mind and re-signed with . Geffen said it was the biggest betrayal of his life up to that point and that he "cried for days". Asylum's early releases were distributed by Atlantic Records. The same year, Asylum signed , , , and (whom Geffen encouraged to form the , with , , and ). In 1972, then folk-based singer/songwriter signed with the label, releasing his debut, ', in 1973. His seventh and final album for the label, ', was released in 1980. Former frontman signed with the label in 1974. The biggest coup for Asylum was signing , who had been with since the early 1960s but who, after a falling-out with the company, was shopping around for a new label. Dylan recorded two albums, ' and the live ', for Asylum before returning to Columbia. Columbia reissued Dylan's two Asylum albums in 1981.

Merger with Elektra Records

Asylum was taken over by Warner Communications in 1973 and merged with Elektra Records to become Elektra/Asylum Records. David Geffen and Elliot Roberts each received $2 million in cash and $5 million in Warner Communications stock, thereby becoming two of the company's largest shareholders. Geffen served as president and chairman of Elektra/Asylum Records until 1975, when he crossed over to film and was named vice-chairman of . One of Asylum's most prominent signings after Geffen's departure was , who released a series of successful and critically acclaimed LPs for the label; his has been called the best California rock album of the decade. By the early 1980s, although the copyright lines on albums still read "Elektra/Asylum Records" or "Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records", Elektra was becoming the more prominent of the two labels with Asylum turning into a secondary imprint. By the middle of the decade, the company was unofficially calling itself Elektra Records, and in 1989 it was renamed Elektra Entertainment. By this time Asylum's remaining acts had been shifted to the Elektra roster, although catalog recordings and reissues continued to be sold with the Asylum label on them.

Country format

Asylum was reformatted into a country music label, still operated by Elektra, in 1992. Under the new format, Asylum scored successful recordings by such acts as , , , , , and . They also produced many critically acclaimed albums by artists such as , , , , John Douglas Myers (JD Myers) and Jamie Hartford. By the end of the decade, however, mismanagement and a lack of promotion money led to the dissolution of the Asylum country label. In 2003, , head of , revived the Nashville division of Asylum, forming a new label known as Asylum-Curb. , , , , and were among the artists on the Asylum-Curb division.


After being dormant for several years, Asylum Records was revived as an urban music-based label in 2004, with some of its releases distributed in conjunction with and others through . In 2006, WMG shifted Asylum to operate under their newly created , which also comprises and . In December 2006, Asylum Records announced the signing of Atlanta, Georgia-based band , the first non-hip-hop artist to be signed to the newly reconfigured label. On March 30, 2009, Asylum president and CEO was promoted to co-president of Warner Bros. Records Inc. Subsequently, Asylum was detached from the Independent Label Group and operated under Warner Bros. from 2009 to 2013 before being moved to Atlantic. was signed to the label as well as and . The label achieved its first number 1 hit on the with "" by in May 2012. The label was relaunched in the US in 2017, operating separately from the UK label.

See also



{{Authority control Hip hop record labels