Now more than ever before, indie labels are making an impact on the music industry. Thanks to the Internet, small labels and independent artists can share their work with the world – and without so much bureaucratic red tape.
If you’re a fan of independent label artists, here are six labels you should know:
1. Mad Decent
Founded by Thomas Wesley Pentz – better known as Diplo – Mad Decent is an EDM label that fuses genres and cultures. The label, founded in 2006, has artists from every corner of the EDM genre, from Electro House to Moombahton.
Mad Decent houses artists Major Lazer, Dillion Francis, Cooker, Rusko and Riff Raff, to name a few.
The label also hosts a free concert series called the Mad Decent Block Party, which tours major cities throughout the U.S. in the summer.
2. Rhymesayers Entertainment
A major player in the independent underground hip hop scene, Ryhmesayers Entertainment was founded by Sean Daley (aka Slug), Musab Saad (Musab), Anthony Davis (Ant) and Brent Sayers (Siddiq). The label has been around since 1995, and has expanded from its home state of Minnesota to including nationally-recognized artists.
The label’s talent includes Evidence, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, Atmosphere, MF Doom, Freeway, and DJ Abilities.
The label also hosts the Soundset Festival every year.
3. XL Recordings
Established in 1989, indie/electric/dance label XL Recordings works with some of the biggest acts on the music scene. The label was founded by Tim Palmer, Richard Russel and Nick Halkes.
In its early days, the label focused mostly on dance-oriented music, but their talent line-up has evolved over the years. XL Recordings has formed partnerships with acts like Tyler, The Creator; Badly Drawn Boy; Wills Earl Beal; and Jack White. But the star that made the label a household name is Adele.
Adele’s 21 album ballooned the label’s earnings from £3 million to £32 million.
4. NOW Entertainment
Founded by Tony Fountain in 2011, NOW Entertainment is an indie label based in Georgia. The label is known for its artist-friendly deals, and their mantra is creating a comfortable atmosphere for artists.
NOW Entertainment’s talent line-up includes artists like Silly Slim, DJ TLK2EM, Beezy Baby and Kryke.
5. Sub Pop Records
Sub Pop started out as a fanzine and was called Subterranean Pop. Today, it’s one of the most iconic indie record labels in the United States.
By the fourth release of the magazine, Bruce Pavitt, founder, had shortened the name to just Sub Pop and started including compilation tapes from underground rock bands.
The label, founded in 1986, houses artists from the indie, grunge and hip-hop genres.
Sub Pop’s talent line-up includes cutting edge artists, like Fleet Foxes, Beach House, The Postal Service, Foals, Flight of the Conchords, The Shins, Washed Out and Shabazz Palaces.
6. Glassnote Records
Indie label Glassnote Records was founded in 2007 by Daniel Glass, and has gone on to become one of the most influential record labels on the scene. The label released the debut record for Phoenix, which took home the 2010 Grammy award for Best Alternative Music Album.
Glassnote then released Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More, which climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard charts. The band’s next album Babel won the Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards.
The label’s talent line-up also includes Daughter, The Givers, Two Door Cinema Club and Oberhofer.