A rundown of the most influential independent labels in music
As music fans, all of us have grown up seeing the iconic logos of record labels like Def Jam, Warner Bros., Motown, and others. But for every major label powerhouse, there’s an indie label that’s working three times as hard to support musicians just as talented as their big league counterparts.
And while they may not always have the recognition and the budgets of majors, the best of them have an eye for talent, an understanding of how to connect with listeners and, more often than not, the innovations, both in the studio and the boardroom, that embolden those bonds and build new ones routinely. If you’re looking for the pulse in a morbidly commercial industry, the necks of Brainfeeder, Jakarta, Sub Pop and Stones Throw, perhaps hip-hop’s crown indie institution, are all coursing with eccentricity and consistently potent output.
In celebration of Independence Day, we’ve ranked all of the best indie labels in the music business and compiled catalog cuts from each camp and more into an extensive 30-track playlist that proves it’s always better to do it your damn self.