Arista was founded in 1974 as a subsidiary of Columbia, and the various Columbia legacy labels (Colpix Records, Colgems Records, and Bell Records) were folded into the new entity. Columbia sold Arista to German-based Ariola Records in 1979. After Ariola purchased RCA Records in 1986, the combined company was renamed Bertelsmann Music Group, though Arista's US releases would not note BMG until 1987.
After the formation of the joint venture of BMG and Sony Music Entertainment (the former CBS Records) in 2004, Arista began operating under the newly formed RCA Music Group. The Arista label was kept alive until 2011 when it was merged into RCA Records.