Rhino Entertainment Company is an American specialty record label and production company founded in 1978. It is owned by Warner Music Group.
Founded in 1978, Rhino was originally a novelty and reissue label during the 1970s and 1980s. It released compilation albums of pop, rock & roll, and rhythm & blues successes from the 1950s through the 1980s, as well as novelty-song LPs (compiled in-house or by Dr. Demento) and retrospectives of famous comedy performers, including
Rhino started as a record shop on Westwood Boulevard, Los Angeles, in 1973, run by Richard Foos, and became a record distributor five years later thanks to the effort of then-store manager Harold Bronson. Their early releases were mostly novelty records (their first single, in 1975, was Wild Man Fischer's "Go To Rhino Records") and punk rock singles; the difficulties involved in getting airplay and distribution for such material eventually caused Foos and Bronson to take the label in other directions. One of Rhino's early artists was The
Some of the label's earliest successes with reissues were achieved by acquiring the rights to the
In the late 1980s, Rhino transitioned into a complete entertainment company specializing in home video (initially VHS, then DVD and Blu-ray) reissues of television programs such as Mystery Science Theater 3000, South Park, The Lone Ranger, My Favorite Martian, Kimba the White Lion, The Transformers, Jem, and The World of Sid & Marty Krofft collection, as well as compact disc releases of select artists and movie soundtracks.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, the company also continued to sign artists (including Bebe Buell, NRBQ and Steve Wynn) and release new music, on the main Rhino label and on subsidiary labels such as RNA (Rhino New Artists) and Forward. However, the company's artists tended to generate more critical acclaim than public interest; for the most part, sales totals in the low five figures or less were routine for Rhino-produced albums, and the less costly, less risky reissue business remained the company’s primary revenue stream. One exception was the success of "At This Moment" by
In 1985, Rhino signed a six-year distribution agreement with
It is through this merger that the label has reissued material from such artists as
In 1999, Rhino started the Rhino Handmade division of limited-edition releases available primarily from their website. All Handmade deluxe editions were limited to about 3,000 copies or less, and once sold out were not re-pressed. (Since Rhino revamped its website in early 2013, the Handmade division appears to have been discontinued.)
In 2003, co-founders and longtime executives Richard Foos and Harold Bronson left Rhino, reportedly due to frustration with the challenges of an increasingly competitive market. In fact, Time Warner's final vesting of its 100 percent ownership of the label, and its subsequent 'reorganization' of label staff, which did not stop at the former owners, were the major factors in their exits. Soon after, Foos inaugurated a new label, Shout! Factory, which began releasing dozens of CDs and videos mirroring the original early-1990s Rhino philosophy. In 2004, Time Warner spun off its music divisions and today Rhino is part of the newly organized Warner Music Group.
In addition to dealing with archive material, the label also manages the U.S. distribution or worldwide production of compilations for more recent Warner acts, including still-active artists such as
In June 2006, Warner Strategic Marketing in the U.K. was dissolved and Rhino Records UK was formed. The division has two main factions: TV-advertised compilations (for example Pure Garage Rewind Back to the Old School) and catalog material from the Warner vaults.
Similar music companies include