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Parent company Warner Music Group
Founded 1983 (1983)
Founder Arthur Mann, Rob Simonds, Doug Lexa, Don Rose
Distributor(s) Alternative Distribution Alliance
(In the U.S.)
WEA International Inc.
(Outside of the U.S.)
Genre Pop, rock
Country of origin U.S.
Official website www.rhino.com

Rykodisc was an American record label. Its catalog is owned by Warner Music Group, operating as a unit of WMG's Independent Label Group and is distributed through Alternative Distribution Alliance.


Claiming to be the first CD-only independent record label in the United States, Rykodisc was founded in 1983 in Salem, Massachusetts, by Arthur Mann, Rob Simonds, Doug Lexa and Don Rose. The name "Ryko," which the label claimed was a Japanese word meaning "sound from a flash of light," was chosen to reflect the company's CD-only policy. In the late 1980s, however, the label also began to issue high-quality cassette and vinyl versions of many releases under the name Ryko Analogue.

Rykodisc had some notable successes in the CD-reissue industry, as artists such as Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Frank Zappa, Nick Drake, Nine Inch Nails, Sugar, Robert Wyatt, and Mission of Burma allowed Rykodisc to issue their catalogs on CD. Rykodisc also re-released the SST Records-era recordings by the Meat Puppets. It also was responsible for the first release of the "I Am the Cosmos" LP by the late Chris Bell of Big Star, another band on the label.

Turntable artwork by Steve Jurgensmeyer for Rykodisc CD reissues (1993–1994) in bottle green jewel cases.

Over the years the label has acquired Hannibal Records, Tradition Records, Gramavision (founded by Jonathan F. P. Rose),[1] Emperor Norton Records, Restless Records and Cordless Recordings. Rykodisc also founded a distribution company, Ryko Distribution, and a music publishing company, Rykomusic. The label's catalog exceeds 1,200 titles.

In 1998, Chris Blackwell left Island Records and bought Rykodisc for a reported $35 million as a means of acquiring music marketing and distribution expertise for his new venture, a media company called Palm Pictures. In 1999, one year after the Blackwell buy-out, the office in Salem, Massachusetts, was closed, and many industry veterans were laid off. In 2001 Blackwell parted ways with Rykodisc. The label was then located in New York City with offices in Los Angeles and in Beverly, Massachusetts.

On March 23, 2006, it was announced that Warner Music Group acquired the Ryko Corporation for $67.5 million. When Warner bought Ryko, it acquired the label's Frank Zappa master tapes, entitling Warner to any reissue rights—an irony considering Zappa's outspoken hatred for Warner, with whom he acrimoniously parted ways in 1979. The Zappa Family Trust and Ryko parted ways in 2012 with the Zappa Family Trust reacquiring Frank Zappa's recorded music catalogue and Universal Music Enterprises taking over distribution of the Zappa catalogue.[2][3] Also in 2006, the independent publishing company EverGreen Copyrights purchased the Rykomusic publishing catalogue, among others.[4]

In 2009, Ryko Distribution was folded into Alternative Distribution Alliance.[5] Currently, ADA acts as the distributor for all Rykodisc releases in the United States.

Rykodisc artists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jonathan F.P. Rose | Theatre for a New Audience". Tfana.org. Retrieved 2016-09-28. 
  2. ^ Christopher Morris (2012-06-11). "UMG sets Frank Zappa re-releases". Variety. Retrieved 2016-09-28. 
  3. ^ Marchese, Joe. "Freak Out! Zappa Family Trust Strikes Deal For Reissue Of 60 Albums From Universal, Roll-Out Begins In July". The Second Disc. Retrieved 2016-09-28. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ [2][dead link]