19 independent record labels that changed the face of music

From inception to factory, we take a look at the fiercely independent record labels that have meant the most over the years …

  • Creation

    Creative folders logo.

    Image: Press

    Founded by Alan mcGee, Joe foster and Green Cock in 1983, the label released a series of independent classics from The Jesus and Mary chain, My dear love, Stroll, Fanclub for teens, The house of love and Super furry animals, but struck the big blow first with Primal cry, then – of course – Oasis.

    McGee sold half of the label to a major Sony in 1992 and he announced his departure from Creation on November 25, 1999, declaring: “It is the end of a decade, a new millennium, and life begins at 40 years old. I want to try new things. Creation went bankrupt shortly after the release of Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR in January 2000.

  • Factory

    Factory records logo

    Factory records logo.

    Image: Press

    Founded in 1978 by Tony Wilson and Alain Erasmus at the back of their club night, The Factory, the label was made famous by Division of joy and New order, but it was also the home of Good Monday, North Coast, A certain report, The Durutti column, Electronic, Article 25 and – briefly – James. Factory Road the wave of the British club scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but their involvement in the Hacienda club was a drain on the company’s wallet and folded label in 1992.

  • Gross trade

    Rough Trade Records Logo

    Rough Trade Records logo.

    Image: Press

    Originally operating as a record store from 1976 under the management of Geoff travis, Gross trade diversified into distribution, releasing a range of independent records through The Cartel, a label cooperative. Their most famous signature was The Smiths, who released all of their albums on the label. Rough Trade’s distribution closed in 1991, but the label was relaunched in 2000 and released material from shots and the libertines among many others. Rough Trade stores, meanwhile, have continued to grow.

  • XL recordings

    XL Recordings Logo

    XL records logo.

    Image: Press

    Possessed band Richard Russell, XL was a spin off of the independent label Beggars banquet, with an emphasis on dance floors. They hit the big time with The Prodigy in the early 90s and have since worked with Friendly Fires, Basement Jaxx, The Horrors, The xx, Peaches, Radiohead, Dizzee Rascal, The White Stripes and Thom yorke‘s Atoms for Peace project.

  • Mute

    Cut logo from recordings

    Cut the logo from the recordings.

    Image: Press

    Founded in 1978 by Daniel Miller launch his solo vehicle The normal and the cult coup Warm faux leather, who formed MUTE 001 in 1978, Mute has grown huge thanks to Basildon synthpoppers Mod Dispatche and their Top 10 friendly hits. Mute welcomed the releases of Nick Cave, Erasure, Nitzer Ebb, Moby and Goldfrapp. Despite the sale to the big EMI in 2002, Miller’s deal means Mute remains independent!

  • Domino

    Domino Records Label

    Domino Records label.

    Image: Press release

    Originally founded in 1993 by Laurence Bell and Jacqui Rice to release material from American bands in the UK, the label rose to fame with releases of Franz Ferdinand, Arctic monkeys and The Kills.

  • Sub-pop



    Image: Press

    Or Pop underground iIf you will, this classic label was launched in Seattle in 1986 by Bruce pavitt and Jonathan poneman and by the turn of the decade had become famous as the home of grunge. The first one Nirvana album, Bleach appeared on Sub Pop, plus releases from Mud honey, Girls In Toy Land, Tad, Dinosaur Jr, L7 and Hole. In recent years, the label has housed Death Cab for Cutie, CSS, Fleet foxes, Theft of concordes and the American house of Foals.

  • Transgressive

    Transgressive Records logo

    Transgressive records logo.

    Image: Press

    The label was formed by Tim dellow and Toby L of the RockFeedback website and has been working since 2004 with Foals, Two Door Cinema Club, Separated by Horses, Alvvays, The Rumble Strips, The Shins and The subways.

  • your money

    Silvertone Records Logo

    Silvertone Records logo.

    Image: Press

    Best known for signing Stone roses and the release of their awesome debut album in 1989, this imprint also released records by John lee hooker and The men they couldn’t hang. ORE 001 was Elephant stone through Stone roses.

  • Modular records

    Modular records

    Modular records.

    Image: Press

    Founded in 1998, by a Sydney based music promoter Steve pavlovic, Modular won with The end of life ‘self-titled debut album, which became the second (at the time) first best-selling rock album in Australian music history. Cut Copy, Presets, Tame Impala and Avalanches have all material published on the label.

  • Chain

    Warp Records Logo

    Warp Records logo.

    Image: Press

    Sheffield Chain debuted in 1989 with a few classic techno tracks, including LFO and Difficult disco, the label welcomed Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada and Nightmares On Wax, while diversifying into “classic” rock with groups like Maximo Park, !!!, Batlles and grizzly. WAP 1 was the fun track With No Name from Forgemasters.

  • Naked



    Image: Press

    Best known for their work with Sweden, Nude was created by Saul Galpern in 1991 and also hosted Black Box, Lowgold, Ultrasonic Recorder, before collapsing in 2001. A brief recovery in 2005 only lasted two years. NUD 1 was Sweden‘s The drowners.

  • Independence



    Image: Press

    When Andy macdonald sold his label Go! Discs at Major Polygram in 1997, he founded Independence, who released classics from To kiss, Gomez, Howling bells, The tears, Travis and Paul weller.

  • DFA

    DFA Records logo

    DFA Records logo.

    Image: Press

    Launched in 2001 by Tim goldsworthy (formerly of Mo ‘wax), James murphy and Jonathan galkin, the label is best known for Murphy’s LCD audio system project, but also released the music of Arcade Fire, Hot Chip, Hercule And Love Affair, The Rapture and Holy ghost!

  • Celestial recordings

    Celestial recordings

    Celestial records.

    Image: Press

    Founded in 1990 by the former Creation employee Jeff Barrett, the label originally housed Saint Etienne and for a very short time, Maniacal street preachers. Other acts include Flowery, Doves, The Magic Numbers and The vines, while recent versions include Man of confidence, Pip Blom and the soundtrack of Kill Eve.

  • 4AD

    4AD logo

    4AD logo.

    Image: Press

    Launched in 1979 by Ivo Watts-Russell, the label was the home of gothic favorites The birthday party, Bauhaus and The Cocteau twins, but made a stylistic break in 1987 with the No. 1 hit of M / A / R / R / S, turn up the volume. They quickly became synonymous with the new generation of alt.rock starts, including the Pixies, The Breeders, Lancer des Muses, The Big Pink and The National.

  • Matador

    Matador Records logo

    Matador Records logo.

    Image: Press

    Launched by Chris Lombardi in 1989 in New York, the first releases were Teen Fanclub, Superchunk and Marc Eitzel, but now the label houses Interpol, Belle and Sébastien, Yo La Tengo and Kurt Vile.

  • Ferocious panda

    Ferocious panda logo

    Fierce panda logo.

    Image: Press

    Started by music journalists John Harris, Paul Moody and Simon williams in 1993, this small independent label is at the origin of the first releases of Cold game, Placebo, Super grass, Idlewild, Bluetones, The Maccabees and much more. Wibbling Rivalry, a recorded interview with Liam and Noël Gallagher which has incredibly grazed the lower end of the cards.

  • Communion

    Logo of acts of communion

    Logo of acts of communion.

    Image: Press

    Founded in 2006 by Ben lovett of Mumford and sons, Kevin Jones and Ian Grimble, the Communion The organization started as a night out at the Notting Hill Arts Club, but has evolved into a label, promotion company, and publishing business. The artists include Ben Howard, Michael Kiwanuka, Treetop Flyers, Fille and To Kill A King.

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