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Universal Records was a record label owned by Universal Music Group and operated as part of the Universal Motown Republic Group.
Founded in 1995 as Rising Tide Records, the label would ultimately begin to thrive the following year when its name was changed to Universal Records to complement the branding overhaul of the Universal Studios structure since MCA Inc. was purchased from Matsushita Electric by The Seagram Company Ltd.. The label, which is actually the second incarnation (the first one was a short-lived underground imprint of MCA Records that existed from 1988 to 1989) was created by current Universal Music Group chairman Doug Morris and Daniel Glass, who became its president.
Universal Records had success in breaking new artists, including the multi-platinum debut of Erykah Badu, Billie Myers, Goldfinger, Akon and the Lost Boyz. Recognizing the changing landscape of the industry, Glass strategically aligned Universal Records with such independent record labels as Kedar Entertainment, home to Erykah Badu, and Mojo Records, home to platinum artist Reel Big Fish and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies.
As the 1990s ended and the 2000s began, the label had notable success with acts like 3 Doors Down, 98 Degrees, Chamillionaire, Godsmack, Jack Johnson, Juvenile, Nelly, Big Sha, Lil Wayne, and Mika. In 1999, Universal Records was pooled together with Motown Records and Republic Records to form Universal Motown Republic Group.
There have been unrelated Universal Records labels in Europe and the Philippines. Because of the unrelated label in the Philippines owning the rights to the Universal Records name in that country, parent company Universal Music Group does business there as MCA Music, Inc., using UMG's former name.
Affiliated labels include Celtic Heartbeat Records, formerly affiliated with Atlantic Records, and Universal Motown Republic Group (UMRG). Bill Whelan's Riverdance was Celtic Heartbeat's first album to sell more than a million copies.