Motown is a record company originally founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and incorporated as Motown Record Corporation in Detroit, Michigan, United States, on April 14, 1960. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname forDetroit. Now headquartered in New York City, Motown is a subsidiary of The Island Def Jam Music Group, itself a subsidiary of the French-owned Vivendi subsidiary, Universal Music Group. 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, by achieving 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 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 Group, when it acquired The PolyGram Group. As of summer of 2011, Motown has been reactivated under The Island Def Jam Music Group division of Universal Music Group.