New York City has one of the most storied music scenes in the world, and it has an industry to match.
Countless labels, publishing houses, agencies, management companies and promoters are based in New York.
Of course, the big three labels have offices in NYC.
So do most of their subsidiaries.
But we’re going to focus on labels that were born and raised in NYC, are independent and are actively picking up new artists and releasing music.
You’ll get a bit of history and a bit of info on what they’re looking for and what they’re into.
Here are 11 record labels in NYC and the type of music they release.
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Matador Records is a successful independent label based in New York City.
Found in 1989 by Chris Lombardi in his NYC apartment, the label has a roster of indie rock, punk rock, experimental rock, alt-rock and electronic.
Their first release was an Austrian duo H.P. Zinker.
Then they just kept adding artists – Dustdevils, Railroad Jerk and Superchunk.
Lombardi started adding staff; Gerard Cosloy joined in 1990 and has been running the label with Lombardi ever since.
Over the years, it has become one of the biggest indie labels in New York, releasing successful acts like Modest Mouse, M. Ward, Cat Power and The Arsonists.
Matador bought True Panther Sounds as an imprint in 2009, increasing their profile and adding artists and employees to the team.
To get an idea of the type of acts the label is signing in 2019, check out Car Seat Headrest, Iceage or Algiers.
Fool’s Gold Records
Fool’s Gold Records is an independent record label in Brooklyn, New York.
The label was founded in 2005 and brings all genres together – it’s known as a tastemaker label and was dubbed an “indie innovator” by Billboard and “one of the most influential indies in the music business” by Pitchfork.
While the label is run independently, it is distributed by Universal Music Group.
The label releases a lot of urban, R&B, hip-hop, indie pop and indie rock music.
Their roster is purposefully diverse.
Some of their well-known acts include Kid Cudi, Chromeo, Run The Jewels, Nick Hook and Lil B.
These guys put out a lot of music.
Check out the “News” section to keep tabs on new releases.
DFA Records is another independent label founded in 2001 by Mo’ Wax co-founder Tim Goldsworthy, musician James Murphy and manager Jonathan Galkin.
The DFA was also a production team made up of Murphy and Galkin.
DFA started out by releasing a series of 12” vinyl releases including The Rapture’s House of Jealous Lovers and The Juan Maclean's By the Time I Get to Venus.
House of Jealous Lovers sold 7,500 copies, which gave the label the cred they needed to start operating on a larger scale.
After another successful release by The Rapture, DFA secured a deal with EMI for outside-U.S. distribution and signed a few distributors in the U.S.
Since then the label has grown steadily and acquired some successful acts like LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chop, Black Dice and more.
The label releases a lot of music with influence from Brian Eno, Talking Heads, Blondie, New Order and Liquid Liquid.
Generally, DFA releases music that is faster, heavier, dubbier and more intense than those influences.
Ba Da Bing Records
Ba Da Bing Records is a label based in Brooklyn, New York founded by Ben Goldberg.
Ben started out as a publicist for Merge and Matador but went on to found his own label and did quite well.
The label’s biggest release is the group Beirut – Ba Da Bing put out their debut recording.
Sharon Van Etten and tUnE-yArDs are also very successful groups for Ba Da Bing, but that doesn’t have them resting on their laurels.
They are picking up deserving new bands, many from the NYC scene including Woom and Slothrust.
Experimental indie, indie rock, punk and more are featured on their label.
Wick Records is an indie/rock & roll subsidiary from the well-known soul and blues label Daptone Records.
They've signed new-retro artists like Michael Rault, The Mystery Lights and The Sha La Das.
The label promotes a lot of acts that would have been at home on some of the legendary labels of the 60s and 70s like Stax and Motown.
The only difference, of course, is that the music being released is new.
Wick has soul legend Charles Bradley on their roster, adding some weight and cred to the label.
Cult Records is an independent label founded by Julian Casablancas of The Strokes.
It was initially an imprint for Casablancas’ solo releases, but it quickly become a standalone label.
They now release The Strokes' new material along with some of the hippest bands in NYC like The Voidz, Promiseland, Surfbort, Cerebral Ballzy, Rey Pila, The Growlers and more.
The label focuses primarily on experimental punk rock artists.
This label was founded by trumpeter Billy Aukstik in NYC’s East Village.
Focused on soul and jazz, the label’s goal is to preserve the history of the city and its musical legacy while releasing honest, raw records that push the envelope.
Some of their artists include Bobby Harden, The Hook Brothers, Mel & Kim, The Rad Trads, Raymond James Mason and more.
Dala Records is a small label you can reach out to directly, but keep in mind they focus on soul, jazz and other music that has a history in NYC.
Mexican Summer was created on the coattails of Sacred Bones Records and Captured Tracks as a vinyl/digital branch of Kemado Records, but they have become one of the most successful labels in Brooklyn.
The label has no issues releasing music in any genre; black metal from Chicago, to indie folk, to indie rock.
Some of their current artists include Drugdealer, C'mon, Paint and Jess Williamson.
Their notable releases include Best Coast, The Tallest Man On Earth, Kurt Vile and Washed Out.
Captured Tracks has one of the most well-curated and defined rosters in the indie-rock landscape, and they have maintained this reputation since 2008.
They have a penchant for goofy indie-rock like Mac DeMarco and DIIV and noisy rock outfits like Perfect Pussy and The Soft Moon.
Captured Tracks has a brick and mortar record store and several imprints that run alongside it.
To get an idea of who they are signing now, check out Chastity, Molly Burch, Drahla and Mourn.
They are well-known for championing artists that have little-to-no prior releases but have undeniable talent.
Since their inception in 2008, the label has released over 300 musical projects and it is ever-expanding.
Good Eye Records
Good Eye Records is a localized NYC label based in Brooklyn, but with a foot in the Asbury, NJ scene, which means they are constantly churning out great acts.
The label doesn’t represent a specific genre, but they want to present enriching narratives from a diverse group of people, and they have a penchant for signing bands that have a strong visual aesthetic.
Greenway Records focuses on indie rock and psych, as well as putting out great looking, visually interesting vinyl.
They represent popular indie bands like Frankie & The Witch Fingers, Dirty Fences and Triptides.
The label principally facilitates DIY vinyl record releases and promotes great shows too.
Best Record Labels In NYC, Final Thoughts
So there you have it, some of the best NYC record labels.
As you can imagine, the Big Apple is full of music creativity.
If you're still in the process of recording music, you may also want to check out these New York City recording studios.
Or if you're interested in more record labels, check these UK ones.
As long as your money is green and you have good music to record, you'll likely be able to use their services. 🙂