The History of I.R.S. Records

This page is very UNofficial and meant to illuminate the wonderful history of I.R.S. Records. This page is in no way related to the founders or past affilates of I.R.S. Records, a now defunct, but very legendary record label.

I.R.S. Records was an American record label founded in 1979 by Miles Copeland III, Jay Boberg, and Carl Grasso in 1979.

I.R.S. Records produced some of the most popular bands and albums in the 1980s. The label was particularly known for issuing records by college rock, new wave & alternative rock artists including but not limited to R.E.M., The Go-Go's, Wall of Voodoo and Fine Young Cannibals.

Miles Copeland III ws the son of CIA agent Miles Copeland Jr., and he played many key roles in the English punk rock & new wave music movement of the middle to late 1970s. He was a music agent, artist/band manager, producer of records, magazine publisher, as well as a record company and label owner. His brother Ian was the head of a talent agency, Frontier Booking International (F.B.I.), while his brother Stewart played drums for The Police, a band that Copeland managed. The Police's first album was released on A&M Records in 1978 with a hit single, "Roxanne", that Copeland called a turning point in his life.

Building on success with the Police, Copeland convinced Jerry Moss, co-owner of A&M, to establish the I.R.S. division in 1979. I.R.S. stood for International Record Syndicate.

From 1983 to 1987, I.R.S. Records sponsored a monthly TV show called I.R.S. Records Presents The Cutting Edge, hosted by Peter Zaremba of The Fleshtones. The series concentrated on bands that recorded for the label. The show concept would later evolve into the alternative rock program 120 Minutes, which was launched in 1986 and co-existed with Cutting Edge for about a year and a half.

I.R.S. releases were distributed by A&M until 1985, then by MCA Records until 1990, and by EMI until the label folded in 1996. In 1985, Copeland brokered a deal to switch the label's distributor to MCA Records. Under the agreement, A&M continued to release the label's pre-1985 catalog, much of which still can be found under the A&M banner.

The label folded in May 1996, with its last release being All Set by the Buzzcocks, issued two weeks before the closure. Shortly after, Copeland formed Ark 21 Records.

In 2011, EMI revived the label; as of 2012, the new label had Chiddy Bang and Foxy Shazam on its roster. In October 2013, shortly after the integration of EMI into its successor, Universal Music Group, the label was revived again as I.R.S. Nashville, with Striking Matches, Marc Scibilia and Cowboy Jack Clement on its roster before being shut down once again in 2015.

I.R.S.'s roster of musicians included The Alarm, Bangles, Berlin, Black Sabbath, Buzzcocks, J. J. Cale, Belinda Carlisle, Concrete Blonde, Stewart Copeland, The Cramps, Dada, The Damned, Dead Kennedys, The English Beat, The Fall, The Fleshtones, General Public, The Go-Go's, The Genitorturers , hHead, Jools Holland, Klark Kent, Let's Active, The Lords of the New Church, Magazine, Gary Numan, Oingo Boingo, R.E.M., Renaissance, Scott Merritt, Stan Ridgway, Skafish, The Stranglers, Fine Young Cannibals, YEN, Wall of Voodoo, and Torch Song.

I.R.S. Records released three albums that have been certified as platinum or multi-platinum, for sales of over 1 million units, by the Recording Industry Association of America. They include Beauty and the Beat by The Go-Go's in 1981, Document by R.E.M. in 1987 and The Raw & the Cooked by Fine Young Cannibals in 1989. Seven I.R.S. released albums were certified gold for sales of at least 500,000 copies. They include Murmur in 1983, Reckoning in 1984, R.E.M. albums Fables of the Reconstruction in 1985 + Lifes Rich Pageant in 1986, Vacation by The Go-Go's in 1982, Belinda by Belinda Carlisle in 1986 and Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde in 1990.