Motown Records is a record label initially founded in Detroit by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959. The label was so integral to the commercialisation and development of a more polished, popular branch of soul music that the name itself is synonymous with that music style. During the 60s, Motown Records became associated with many iconic musicians, including Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, and The Jackson 5. These artists all experienced success and helped shape a more commercial, soul-infused pop sound. However, by the early 70s, there was declining interest in the more polished, classy pop-soul music that Motown was now synonymous with. 

Gordy repositioned the record label to be based in Los Angeles where it was less influential on the landscape of popular music, however, its unmistakeable influence during the 60s cemented the label as one of the most influential in all of pop music. Motown music is discernible through its rhythmic emphasis, a strong backbeat is typically present, and the songs were often short to be more suited for radio. Motown records also had their own in-house band known as the Funk Brothers: a group of capable musicians, including Benny Benjamin and James Jamerson, who played on many of the records. Motown artists, like the music they released, were presented as clean and polished.

Notable artists:

Marvin Gaye

The Temptations

Stevie Wonder

The Supremes

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles


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