|Parent company||Warner Music Group|
|Distributor(s)||Warner Bros. Records|
|Country of origin||U.S.|
The label was founded in 1966 as Sire Productions by Seymour Stein and Richard Gottehrer, each investing ten thousand dollars into the new company. Its early releases, in 1968, were distributed by London Records. From the beginning, Sire introduced underground, progressive British bands to the American market. Early releases included the Climax Blues Band, Barclay James Harvest, Tomorrow, Matthews Southern Comfort and proto-punks the Deviants. The label was distributed by Polydor Records in 1970 and 1971, during which time the now-famous logo was introduced, and then by Famous Music from 1972 to 1974, during which the progressive rock band Focus charted with their 1972 hit "Hocus Pocus". In the seventies, Sire released a number of compilation LPs, including the 3 volume "History Of British Rock" series, and diverse artists such as the Turtles, Duane Eddy, the Small Faces and Del Shannon. ABC Records inherited Sire's distribution contract when it acquired Famous Music in 1974. The UK signing policy was vindicated when Climax Blues Band scored a Top 40 hit in 1977 with "Couldn't Get It Right". Also in 1977 Stein, who had worked with the group in the 1960s, convinced the Shangri-Las to reform and return to the studio. But the trio was unhappy with the quality of material it recorded, and opted out of its contract; the tracks have yet to be released.
Acquisition by Warner
In the later 1970s, Sire transformed itself into a successful independent record label and went on to sign artists from the burgeoning punk rock and new wave scenes, including the Ramones, the Dead Boys, the Undertones and Talking Heads. Sire switched distribution to Warner Bros. Records in 1977; in 1978, Warner acquired Sire Records. During the 1980s, Sire achieved mainstream status after having launched the recording careers of Madonna (its biggest act), The Smiths, Ice-T, Depeche Mode, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Pretenders and the Cure in North America. Into the 1990s, the label had continued success with Seal, k.d. lang, Tommy Page and Ministry.
In 1994, Sire switched distribution from Warner Bros. Records to sister label Elektra Records (also part of parent company Warner Music). Stein had been appointed president of Elektra Records under Elektra's newly appointed CEO Sylvia Rhone. Sire later left Elektra in 1997, becoming a stand-alone label, and, in 2000, Sire and the US division of London Records (not London Classics USA) were merged to become London-Sire Records. This partnership dissolved in April 2003, at which point the company went back to being called Sire Records, and it returned to distribution with Warner Bros. Records again. Currently, it signs newcomers like the Ready Set and Lights.
In 2009, official music videos displayed on the Sire Records website were taken down because of a copyright claim by parent Warner Music Group, after royalty negotiations between WMG and YouTube (which Sire had been using to host the videos) broke down in December 2008. Although an agreement was made in September 2009 and the videos returned, users have to view the WMG videos within YouTube itself, as embedding codes for them have been disabled.
- "Personality Clash: Seymour Stein Vs Tim Dellow | Clash Music Exclusive General". Clashmusic.com. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
- "Warner Bros Records". Warner Bros Records. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
- "Warner Music to Warner Music: You are pirates!". Boing Boing. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
- Pattison, Louis (16 January 2015). "Underage against the machine: why labels are desperate to sign teens". theguardian.com. The Guardian.