DreamWorks Records

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DreamWorks Records
Parent companyInterscope Geffen A&M
(Universal Music Group)
Founded1996; 28 years ago (1996)
DefunctJanuary 9, 2004; 20 years ago (January 9, 2004)
Country of originUnited States

DreamWorks Records (often referred in copyright notices as SKG Music, LLC) was an American record label founded in 1996 by David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg as a subsidiary of DreamWorks Pictures.[1] The label operated until 2003 when it was sold to Universal Music Group.[2] The label itself also featured a Nashville, Tennessee-based subsidiary, DreamWorks Nashville, which specialized in country music and was shut down in 2006 then moved to MCA Nashville. The company's logo was designed by Roy Lichtenstein and was his last commission before his death in 1997.[3]


In October 1994, four years after David Geffen sold his former record label Geffen Records to MCA Music Entertainment, he joined Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg to form DreamWorks SKG.[4] SKG stood for Spielberg, Katzenberg & Geffen.[5] The three partners later launched the subsidiary record label DreamWorks Records in early 1996.[5] Rufus Wainwright was the first artist to be signed to the new record label, in early 1996.

The logo for the label was the last project completed by artist Roy Lichtenstein. The distinctive design, incorporating a musical note in the artist's trademark "dream balloon," debuted on the packaging for Beautiful Freak, the first album from Los Angeles-based band Eels, and the second release from the record company.[6] The record label's first release, George Michael's Older album, had featured DreamWorks Pictures' logo of a boy fishing and sitting on a moon crescent.[7]

Henry Rollins (both as a spoken-word artist and with Rollins Band), Tamar Braxton, Nelly Furtado, George Michael, Randy Newman, Morphine, Elliott Smith, Eels, comedian/actor Chris Rock, Powerman 5000, Papa Roach and others were also signed to the label.[8] The label was presided over by Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin, who had run Warner Bros. Records until the mid-1990s. Ostin stated at the time: "What you find in the record business is there is more and more a trend toward corporate control, corporate values, and here you’re dealing with a creatively oriented operation."[9]

Geffen Records distributed DreamWorks Records until 1999, when Interscope Records took over distribution duties (meanwhile, as Interscope and Geffen switched international distribution to Polydor Records, DreamWorks Records followed suit). It was announced on November 11, 2003, that Universal Music Group (the former MCA Music Entertainment, and parent of Interscope, Geffen, and Polydor) reached an agreement to acquire DreamWorks Records from DreamWorks for "about $100 million".[10] The purchase came at a time when the music business was "going through major changes" as it struggled to "counter falling sales and the impact of unofficial online music sales". Mo Ostin, the principal executive at DreamWorks Records, said: "Despite the challenges of the music business today, Universal is acquiring a wonderful asset and the sale will assure the strongest possible future for our artists".[11] Under the new deal, DreamWorks Records was placed within the Interscope Geffen A&M label, under the direction of Jimmy Iovine.[10] After the finalisation of the label's sale to UMG on January 9, 2004, 100 employees were laid off at DreamWorks, as it was folded into Geffen Records.[12] Notably, the label's A&R staff were kept on to the label.[12] Polly Anthony joined Jordan Schur as Geffen co-heads in 2004.[13]

Its country music division, DreamWorks Nashville, which began in June 1997, remained operational until September 1, 2005, when it was shut down by Universal Music Group Nashville following the departure of the label's biggest star, Toby Keith.[14]

DreamWorks Nashville[edit]

Between 1997 and 2005, DreamWorks also operated a division in Nashville, Tennessee for country music acts. Among the artists signed to the DreamWorks Nashville division were Jessica Andrews, Emerson Drive, Toby Keith, Mike Walker, Randy Travis, Jimmy Wayne, and Darryl Worley.[15] After DreamWorks Records' dissolution, former executive Scott Borchetta formed Big Machine Records in late 2005, signing several country music acts to the label.[16] Borchetta also signed Show Dog Records in partnership with Toby Keith,[17] although Keith dropped his association with the latter label in 2005. Meanwhile, Borchetta signed Taylor Swift to Big Machine Records.[18] The latter label merged with Universal South Records to become Show Dog-Universal Music.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Universal Music to buy DreamWorks Records". Deseret News. 12 November 2003. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Universal buys Dreamworks Records". BBC. 11 November 2003. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  3. ^ "The Life and Work of Roy Lichtenstein, Pop Art Pioneer". Thought Co. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  4. ^ Tom King, The Operator: David Geffen Builds, Buys, and Sells the New Hollywood, p. 538, Broadway Books (New York 2001).
  5. ^ a b Cieply, Michael (27 October 2008). "David Geffen Makes a Sudden Exit". New York Times. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  6. ^ "Artist Roy Lichtenstein Designs Logo For DreamWorks Records". Retrieved 2011-09-02.[dead link]
  7. ^ "George Michael - Older". Discogs. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  8. ^ "DreamWorks Counter-Sues Imago: Grammy-winning singer Henry Rollins..." LA Times. 30 July 1996. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Dreamworks Is for Real". Hits Daily Double. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  10. ^ a b "UMG To Acquire DreamWorks Records". Billboard. 2013-08-17. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  11. ^ "Business | Universal buys Dreamworks Records". BBC News. 2003-11-11. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  12. ^ a b Newman, Melinda (January 24, 2004). "DreamWorks Keeps A&R Staff". Billboard. Vol. 116, no. 4. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 5. 65. ISSN 0006-2510.
  13. ^ "Jordan Schur, in Partnership with Interscope Records, launches Suretone Records". 2013-01-26. Archived from the original on 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  14. ^ Billboard Staff (2005-09-01). "Universal Shuts Down DreamWorks Nashville". Billboard. Retrieved 2023-04-14.
  15. ^ "Universal Shuts Down DreamWorks Nashville". Billboard. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Big Machine and racing go together". ESPN. 28 July 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  17. ^ All Business:Nashville Scene: Keith's New Show Dog By PHYLLIS STARK, September 10, 2005
  18. ^ "The Shocking Falling-Out Between Taylor Swift and a Longtime Ally". The Atlantic. 2 July 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2021.

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