Interscope was founded in 1989 by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field as a $20 million joint venture with Time Warner's Atlantic Records. At the time, it differed from most record companies by giving decision-making authority to its A&R staff, and allowing artists and producers complete creative control. It had its first hit records less than a year after it was founded and achieved profitability in 1993.
In 1992, Interscope acquired the exclusive rights to market and distribute the hardcore rap label Death Row. Albums by Death Row artists including Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg were at the center of the mid-'90s gangsta rap controversy, and as a result, Time Warner severed ties with Interscope by selling its 50 percent stake back to Field and Iovine for $115 million in 1995. In 1996, 50% of the label was acquired by the MCA Music Entertainment Group for a reported $200 million.
Iovine served as chairman and CEO until May 2014. He was succeeded by John Janick.
Interscope is headquartered in Santa Monica, California.