After the songwriting trio Holland–Dozier–Holland left the label in 1967 over royalty payment disputes, Norman Whitfield became the company's top producer, turning out hits for The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight & the Pips. In the meantime, Berry Gordy established Motown Productions, a television subsidiary which produced TV specials for the Motown artists, including TCB with Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations, Diana! with Diana Ross, and Goin' Back to Indiana with The Jackson 5. The company loosened its production rules, allowing some of its longtime artists the chances to write and produce more of their own material. This resulted in the recordings of successful and critically acclaimed albums such as Marvin Gaye's What's Going On (1971) and Let's Get it On (1973), and Stevie Wonder's Music of My Mind (1972), Talking Book (1972), and Innervisions (1973).
Motown had established branch offices in both New York City and Los Angeles during the mid-1960s, and by 1969 had begun gradually moving more of its operations to Los Angeles. The company moved all of its operations to Los Angeles in June 1972, with a number of artists, among them Martha Reeves, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Motown's Funk Brothers studio band, either staying behind in Detroit or leaving the company for other reasons. The main objective of Motown's relocation was to branch out into the motion picture industry, and Motown Productions got its start in film by turning out two hit vehicles for Diana Ross: the Billie Holiday biographical film Lady Sings the Blues (1972), and Mahogany (1975). Other Motown films would include Thank God It's Friday (1978), The Wiz (1978) and Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon (1985). Ewart Abner, who had been associated with Motown since the 1960s, became its president in 1973.
Despite losing Holland–Dozier–Holland, Norman Whitfield, and a number of its other hitmakers by 1975, Motown still had a number of successful artists during the 1970s and 1980s, including Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and The Commodores, Rick James, Teena Marie and DeBarge. By the mid-1980s, Motown was losing money, and Berry Gordy sold his ownership in Motown to MCA Records and Boston Ventures in June 1988 for $61 million. In 1989, Gordy sold the Motown Productions TV/film operations to Motown executive Suzanne de Passe, who renamed the company de Passe Entertainment and runs it to this day.
During the 1990s, Motown was home to successful recording artists such as Boyz II Men and Johnny Gill, although the company itself remained in a state of turmoil. A revolving door of executives were appointed by MCA to run the company, beginning with Berry Gordy's immediate successor, Jheryl Busby. Busby quarreled with MCA, alleging that the company did not give Motown's product adequate attention or promotion. In 1991, Motown sued MCA to have its distribution deal with the company terminated, and began releasing its product through PolyGram. Polygram purchased Motown from Boston Ventures three years later. In 1994, Busby was replaced by Andre Harrell, the entrepreneur behind Uptown Records. Harrell served as Motown's CEO for just under two years, leaving the company after receiving bad publicity for being inefficient. Danny Goldberg, who ran PolyGram's Mercury Records group, assumed control of Motown, and George Jackson served as president.