Obscure, outsider, or non-profit record labels
November 15, 2015 1:52 PM   Subscribe

One way I like to explore and discover new (rather, new to me) music is by sifting deep through a record label's back catalog. I'd love to hear about labels I don't already know about or that I may have overlooked. My taste spans all genres, but I'm specifically seeking labels that feature world music/music of the non-West, field recordings, lost gems and rarities, non-commercial/non-profit, and generally obscure and/or outsider recordings.

The more historic or tenured the record label, the better. It does not have to be a record label that is still in existence, or one that is currently active (for example, Okeh Records). In fact, the older the label, the better.

Examples of some labels I already love or are familiar with:

Ocora / Radio France
Nonesuch Explorer
Canyon Records
Cook Records
Rounder Records
Arhoolie Records
Sublime Frequencies
Tompkins Square
Now Again
Luaka Bop
Smithsonian Folkways
Fat Possum
[Alan Lomax's] Library of Congress Recording Sessions
posted by nightrecordings to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Merge Records
Trouble in Mind
posted by munchingzombie at 2:14 PM on November 15, 2015

Dust to Digital
Sahel Sounds
posted by theodolite at 2:15 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by box at 2:27 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Alternative Tentacles might float your boat.
posted by vrakatar at 2:34 PM on November 15, 2015

Not a record label exactly, but UbuWeb is a gold mine of weirdness.
posted by clockwork at 2:36 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Olivia Records
posted by thetortoise at 2:43 PM on November 15, 2015

New World Records is a non-profit that focuses on releasing American music that would otherwise not have much chance of being released. Their catalog is mostly contemporary/classical music, but also jazz, traditional and what have you. When the similarly-missioned Composers Recordings International went out of business in 2003, NWR obtained the rights to their releases and they've digitized hundreds of CRI LPs.
posted by hydrophonic at 2:52 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Buda Musique
Soul Jazz
posted by carrienation at 3:58 PM on November 15, 2015

Canary Records
posted by klausness at 4:10 PM on November 15, 2015

Mississippi-Change Records and

Little Axe Records.

Eric Issacson, the Owner, is not a fan of the digital world, so they may be difficult to source. But, wonderful!
posted by djinn dandy at 4:20 PM on November 15, 2015

Cló Iar-Chonnacht publishes traditional Irish music with a special focus on Connemara musicians and sean-nós singing. The company also publishes Irish-language books.
posted by Hellgirl at 4:24 PM on November 15, 2015

posted by askmehow at 5:49 PM on November 15, 2015

Northside for a wide variety of Nordic music.
posted by bricoleur at 6:08 PM on November 15, 2015

Delmark Records, America's oldest independent jazz and blues label, and the first label to release stuff by AACM artists.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:22 PM on November 15, 2015

If you've never checked out Jandek, I highly recommend a visit to his world. His label, but I'd direct you here first.
posted by good lorneing at 6:50 PM on November 15, 2015

Numero Group has already been mentioned but absolutely worth checking out.

Light in the Attic has a very broad catalog including some outsider stuff, check out Lewis.
posted by modofo at 6:53 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hey! I was just about to mention Light in the Attic and +1 Numero Group.

New Albion is an important shuttered one you might be interested in.

posted by waninggibbon at 6:55 PM on November 15, 2015

posted by davebush at 7:38 PM on November 15, 2015

New Music Quarterly Recordings produced a small but very important catalog of 78s of 20th-century classical music.
posted by in278s at 7:50 PM on November 15, 2015

posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:53 PM on November 15, 2015

ECM Records
posted by gyusan at 8:56 PM on November 15, 2015

Jakarta Records!
posted by mdonley at 2:56 AM on November 16, 2015

Warp Records.
posted by my-username at 9:29 AM on November 16, 2015

(here's their list of releases)
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:06 AM on November 16, 2015

Superior Viaduct
posted by soundofsuburbia at 1:24 PM on November 16, 2015

... and:

Awesome Tapes From Africa
posted by soundofsuburbia at 1:35 PM on November 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some from my part of the world:

- Orange Cliff Records (Jakarta Label representing Sigmun and Maverick, two of my favourite Indonesian artists)
- D-Force Records (China's newest hottest record label, representing young electronics-heavy bands in Tier-II and Tier-III cities)
- Maybe Mars (Veteran Beijing record label with a penchant for shoegazey, post-punkey goodness)
- Common Music (Seoul label with a lot of interesting, emergent K-indie bands. I love Asian Chairshot)
- Mooshy Moo (Karachi, Pakistan label representing the best of that city's incredible electronic music underground)
posted by beijingbrown at 12:59 AM on November 17, 2015

New Amsterdam is the new Nonesuch. ("New classical" often with strong non-western influences)
posted by kalapierson at 2:21 AM on November 17, 2015

I finally remembered where I saw this interview with Yale Evelev, president of Luaka Bop: Dust & Grooves.

He talks about some of the ethnomusicology-focused labels he collects: Folkways, Ocora, Bärenreiter-Musicaphon, and the Philips Unesco Collection.

Don't miss the video, where he plays some of his favorites for us.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:57 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thought of another one: Vinyl-On-Demand.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 10:47 AM on November 17, 2015

I have been trying to remember this label since I first posted and it finally came to me!

HoZac Records
posted by munchingzombie at 11:54 AM on November 21, 2015

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