Motown is a record label that was originally founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in Detroit, Michigan, USA, on April 14, 1960. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit. Now headquartered in New York City, Motown is a subsidiary of Universal Motown Republic Group, itself a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, and now operates as Universal Motown Records. Motown Records was also the name of Gordy's second record label; the first, Tamla Records, began on January 12, 1959.
Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music, as it was the first record label owned by an African American even if it was not the first to feature primarily African-American artists. Motown achieved a crossover success. In the 1960s, Motown and its soul-based subsidiaries were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as The Motown Sound, a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence.
Motown has owned or distributed releases from more than 45 subsidiaries in varying genres, although it is most famous for its releases in the music genres of rhythm and blues, soul, hip hop, and pop. Gordy relocated Motown Records to Los Angeles in 1972 and there it remained an independent company until June 28, 1988, when Gordy sold the company to MCA and Boston Ventures (which took over full ownership of Motown in 1991), then to PolyGram in 1994, before being sold again to MCA Records' successor Universal Music, when it acquired The PolyGram Group