Bandcamp Friday, seemingly the lone bright spot in our perpetually purgatory-ish pandemic state, is back. And with it, artists are receiving the full brunt of today’s sales on the site, a Bandcamp initiative that went into place at the onset of the COVID crisis to help musicians recoup some of the income lost to a global health crisis. But artists aren’t the only ones getting squeezed by shrunken profit margins and the overnight disappearance of venues to support their releases.
For this #BandcampFriday, we’re shifting focus, if only for a moment, to the bar-setting indie camps that have been engines for music discovery across a multitude of eras, genres, and geographies. Because even small-batch labels have expansive catalogs and even some of the biggest indie operations are in need of emergency assistance. From reissue specialists to experimental jazz and electronic labs to trusted purveyors of underground rap and R&B, every corner of the independent music exchange is taking a hit.
So if you’re feeling flush with whatever’s left of that stimulus check or just, you know, want to keep some of these institutions afloat while the world oscillates between slight nightmare and all-out apocalypse scenarios, there’s no time like now to let the dollars circulate, few as they may be.
Scroll on for a round-up of independent labels to support this Bandcamp Friday, along with standout selections from their respective catalogs. Tune in next month for more picks from the digital crates.
The gold standard for reissues and restorations of unearthed soul oddities, Numero Group’s compilations and first-ever pressings have become a go-to sample source for Kanye West, Madlib, and some of the most revered producers to ever flip a b-side. Whether you spend a day, a week, or a year, getting acquainted, there’s seemingly no end to the bounty.
A longstanding and trusted outpost for independent rap titans, Mello Music Group has been behind some of the most potent projects from just beyond the mainstream. This year alone, MMG has delivered requisite listening from Che Noir and Apollo Brown, Quelle Chris and Chris Keys (a year-end superlative contender,) Elaquent, and more.
Home to righteous releases from rappers spanning the hip-hop’s ever-growing map and range of disciplines, Cinematic Music Group has showcased the breadth and brilliance of the genre for nearly 15 years. You are sure to find a gem digging around there this Bandcamp Friday.
One of the only imprints on this list splitting time between soul’s past and present, Colemine Records has assembled a roster comprising all eras, gleaming a gorgeously tender future for the cannon.
The main hustle for Habibi Funk founder, Jannis Stürtz, has been a launchpad for the careers of decade-defining producers and players, including Kaytranada, Sango, Ta-ku, and Anderson .Paak. If you’re looking for standouts from the early-blog era, Jakarta’s catalog is a trusted one-stop with dozens of titles to keep your ear and wallet busy.
Likely the youngest imprint on this list, the London-based label from Kamaal Williams is gradually building a collective of jazz and R&B futurists that is already shaping the next era of genre-blurring misfits.
Another label that needs no intro, Brainfeeder has managed the miraculous in rallying the oddballs of jazz and electronic music under one roof. Their Bandcamp page provides an opportunity to get acquainted with some of its lesser-known releases and one-off, non-album cuts.
Chicago-based jazz label International Anthem has been churning out dispatches from jazz’s new vanguard for the better part of the last decade. Those seeking a comprehensive crash course on the Windy City’s current output need not look any further.
Not-so-quietly documenting Dallas’ full-bloom rap and R&B renaissance over the last five years, Dolfin Records has become a singular source for some of the city’s most gifted and graceful destroyers of genre.
An early home to Knxwledge, Mndsgn, Jon Bap, Iman Omari, Swarvy, and the gamut of innovative producers and players this side of the beat scene, the Portland-based label has built a tradition of being way out and ahead of the hype machine.
Mndsgn‘s Akashik Records doesn’t have the same breadth of titles as many of the imprints on this list. But it does host introductory glimpses at rising rap-punk phenom Pink Siifu, a grip of the late Ras G’s reissued work, and side-projects from the label chief and producer.
On a steady rise to reissue royalty, Now-Again has culled a mean and meaty index of funk, soul, psyche, and library obscurities from damn-near every corner of the globe. Take your time combing through this one.
This list’s most recognizable name is also its deepest dive on Bandcamp. Nearly the entirety of Stones Throw’s 20-plus-years of releases is available to purchase on the streamer. From the notorious Peanut Butter Breaks to the classic Rhythm Traxx compilations to J Dilla’s magnum opus to each and every phase of Madlib and every gem between them, there’s simply no missing.
What began as a passion project for the Jakarta Records chief has bloomed into one of the most dazzling collections of Middle Eastern psyche, funk, and prog-rock on the internet. Come for the choice mixes and handpicked compilations, stay for the limited vinyl pressings.
Quickly compiling one of the most dynamic catalogs on the streamer, Jazz Diaries is an artist-run home for the ever-expanding intersections of jazz, house, R&B, and high-voltage dance music from around the globe.
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