Indie Record Labels You Should Know

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There are certain indie record labels you should know because they’ve been making an impact in the music world for decades. With the traditional media, TV and radio, being reserved for major label clients, the Internet acts as a platform where indie labels can compete on a large scale. Aside from record labels, the Internet has also become a platform for many new slots sites who are trying to compete with well-established large companies. 

Nowadays, indie record labels account for over 30% of the overall record sales, with some indie labels standing out among the rest. Our list of indie record labels you should know is as follows:

4 AD

Established in 1979, the genre focus of 4 AD is mainly underground American rock, electronic, and indie pop music.

4AD is a British indie record label that was started in 1979. Its initial intention was to serve as a testing ground for its parent company Beggars Banque Records. The idea of Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent was that all new acts would spend at least one year with 4AD, and if they managed to achieve a certain level of success, they would then be transferred to Beggars Banquet.

In the mid-’80s the focus of the label was mostly on underground American rock acts. These acts would include such bands as Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins and The Pixies.


Established in 1989, the genre focus of Matador Records is Indie Rock.

In 1989, Chris Lombardi started Matador Records in his New York City apartment and the rest is history. Since then, the label has two operating locations: one in NY (not in Lombardi’s apartment) and a second in London. With its focus mainly on indie rock bands and artists, Matador has represented a decent amount of the genres biggest names. The label current acts include Cat Power, Fucked Up, Interpol, Pavement, Sonic Youth, and Yo La Tengo.


Established in 1986, the genre focus of SUB POP is on Grunge, Indie, and Hip-Hop.

What was originally started as a fanzine called Subterranean Pop in 1986 has evolved into one of the most recognizable and iconic indie record labels in U.S. history. The original intention of the fanzine was to focus exclusively on stories about American indie record labels. By the fourth issue, its founder had shortened the name to Sub Pop and started including compilation tapes of underground rock bands.

In the late ’80s, after signing a series of Seattle-based bands like Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Mudhoney, the label got its first taste of the business. SUB POP released Soundgarden’s first single which was a split record titled “Hunted Down” / “Nothing to Say,” in 1987, as well as their debut EP the same year. This was followed by the release of Nirvana’s debut single, “Love Buzz,” in 1988. It was because of their early work with these bands that Sub Pop was hailed for helping to popularize grunge music at the time.