Stiff Records


Stiff Records was created in 1976 by Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera. Initially intending to specialize in "pub rock" by artists such as Ian Dury and Wreckless Eric, the label quickly got caught up in the punk, ska & new wave movements, and helped launch the careers of such artists as Elvis Costello, Madness, The Damned, Nick Lowe, The Pogues, Tenpole Tudor, and many others.

Name variants :
- Stiff Records
- Stiff

Company related to :
- Stiff Recordings

Ever the keen marketeers, Stiff billed themselves as "The World's Most Flexible Record Label". Other slogans were "We came. We saw. We left." and "If it ain't Stiff it ain't worth a fuck."

Riviera left Stiff in 1977 to form Radar Records, taking Elvis Costello and several other artists with him.

In 1978 the company entered into a US partnership with CBS, Inc. This created two short lived labels Stiff-Columbia and Stiff-Epic.

In 1984 the label entered a distribution deal with Island Records. Stiff was fully purchased by Island, but the deal wasn't a success and Robinson regained control in 1986 of the newly independent label.

In 1987, after a serious cashflow crisis, the label went into liquidation. ZTT, whose product Robinson had worked on when in cahoots with Island, bought the label catalogue for a reported £300,000. On ZTT's watch the label slowly petered out - several albums by the likes of the Belle Stars, Furniture and Dr Feelgood were left in limbo, unreleased.

The Stiff brand was relaunched in late 2006 by the SPZ Group (Sarm/Perfect Songs/ZTT) and included new signings and reissues. In Dec. 2017, SPZ sold the Stiff brand, parts of the Stiff recording catalog, and Perfect Songs publishing to Universal Music.

UK distribution:
1976- January 1977: self
January - December 1977: Island Records
December 1977 to October 1979: EMI via Island Records' deal with EMI
Early October 1979: Virgin sales force with EMI manufacture and distribution
Late October 1979 to 1984: Virgin sales force with CBS manufacture and distribution.

Labelcode: LC 4764

Parent Label:Universal Music Group
Sublabels:1 Off Records, Gates Of Heaven Records, Magic Records (8), Stiff America, Stiff Canada, Stiff Double A Side Records, Stiff Indie, Stiff Pub, Stiff-Columbia, Stiff-Epic, ...
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