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Founded by Joe Regis and William Hein and primarily released alternative, metal and punk records. Restless also licensed and released records from Bar/None Records, Metal Blade Records and Mute Records. Restless had a fully owned subsidiary called Pink Dust Records.
In 1991, Enigma merged with Restless Records. In 1992, Restless acquired the Twin/Tone Records label. In 1993, Restless co-founded Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA) with Warner Brothers Music Group (WMG) to handle its distribution and certain titles released by Warner Bros., Elektra Records, Atlantic Records, their affiliates and Sub Pop Records. Sub Pop subsequently became a partner in the venture. Within 10 years, ADA went on to become the largest distributor of independent music in America.
In 1997, Restless was acquired by Arnon Milchan's New Regency Productions, one of the entertainment industry's largest independent film production companies. Restless remained a subsidiary of New Regency until 2001, during which time Restless released many of New Regency's soundtracks.
In 2001, Restless was bought by Rykodisc as part of their revitalization efforts following a short-lived Rykodisc/Palm Pictures merger. It continues to operate as a division of Rykodisc.