Billboard Pro's D.I.Y. 50 Indie Labels (Part II)
Billboard Pro's D.I.Y. 50 Indie Labels (Part II)

This is part II of our 50 Best Indie Labels in America piece. To read part I, click here.

Indie-tastic: Billboard Pro breaks down 50 American indie labels.

26. RVNG Intl.
Pronounced "revenge," this boutique electronic label drops carefully curated synth creations, ranging from minimalist compositions to upbeat dance-pop, often featuring collaborations between early electronic innovators and contemporary artists.


GENRE/SOUND: Electronic, dance, synth-pop, indie

27. Suicide Squeeze
Birthed 15 years ago at a time when a tiny Seattle indie could still scoop singles from the likes of Modest Mouse and Elliott Smith, this label, run by David Dickenson, soldiers on with a roster that includes gritty grrrl-punks the Coathangers.


GENRE/SOUND: Indie rock, pop, punk

28. In The Red Records
A mainstay imprint for ramshackle punks like Thee Oh Sees, "in the red" refers to an overloaded audio channel producing a muffled distortion definitive of lo-fi production, to which the label's artists adhere while delivering spry, inventive takes on punk, tape-deck experimentation and doo-wop-reminiscent vocal arrangements à la Vivian Girls.

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

GENRE: Garage/Shoegaze/Grunge/Punk

29. Captured Tracks
Label-owner Mike Sniper of Blank Dogs 'captures' the reverb-heavy sound of Brooklyn with releases from as far away as London, LA and even Queens. Built on the idea that a great single may do more for a band than an album, it's a 7-inch gold mine from both one-offs and artists who call the label home, like jangle-pop darlings Beach Fossils or promising new trio Widowspeak.

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

GENRE: Garage/Lo Fi/Pop

30. DFA
Despite a past distribution deal with EMI, DFA is still independently run by a group of DJs led by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. DFA has functioned as a springboard for artists like Free Energy and the Rapture but consistently releases underground dance 12-inches, dominated by dance-rock hybrids: quintessential New York sounds.

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

GENRE: Dance/Rock

31. Wolf + Lamb
International DJs Zev Eisenberg and Gadi Mizrahi curate releases on their label to reflect their unique brand of sexy, R&B-infected house. In a short period of time, they have nurtured a tight-knit family of electronic producers, including Billboard Uncharted vet Nicolas Jaar and Soul Clap.


GENRE: Deep House

32. Stone's Throw
Label founder/MC Peanut Butter Wolf doesn't mess around--the label's output is eclectic because he only chooses to release what truly moves him rather than cater to a specific marketing plan. Great disco reissues mingle with fresh beats and rap releases.

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

GENRE: Hip Hop, Dance

33. De Stijl
De Stijl tries to delve into the unknown, the further reaches of the musical unconscious; in their own words, they are "dedicated to unearthing Primo Basement Arcana," which includes releases from Night People Records' musical alias Wet Hair, C Spencer Yeh, and sludgy grooves from Hype Williams.

LOCATION: Minneapolis, MN


34. Drag City
Not just a gold mine for mind-blowing folk and psychedelic reissues, Drag City's catalog is alive and well with new artists, responsible for the latest from Ty Segall, Joanna Newsom and Scout Niblett.


GENRE: Psych-rock/folk

35. Kranky
Go-to label for eccentric architects of thundering towers of sound like Tim Hecker and Deerhunter or dissonant punks like the Disappears. As explicitly stated on the label's site, their high-brow and selective operation seldom deviates from its "very specific aesthetic," which vacillates between chaos and opioid ambience.


GENRE: Ambient/Post-Rock

36. Hardly Art
Founded by Sub Pop in 2007, Hardly Art is a label willing to take a chance on young talent--they signed Seapony after seeing them play their first show opening for soon-to-be labelmates La Sera. Hardly releases carry an overarching gentle and melodic motif, though bands like Hunx and his Punx and Fergus and Geronimo are known to be provocative, with quirky humor, and newcomer Colleen Green surges with punk energy.


GENRE: pop/punk/indie

37. Pina Records
Pina Records has had the reggaeton industry on lockdown since Ralphy Pina began managing key artists like R.K.M. & Ken-Y and Zion & Lennox.

LOCATION: Cuaga, Puerto Rico

GENRE: Latin/Reggaeton

38. Jagjaguwar
This midwest, mostly rock establishment scoops up artists responsible for a number of popular indie releases--from wistful albums from Bon Iver and Okkervil River to the synth-pop of Gayngs and Small Black.


GENRE: Indie Rock/Folk

39. Decon
In hip-hop, oftentimes you're either a legendary underground emcee or you're chasing paper trying to get as much exposure as possible. Decon successfully straddles these two worlds, maintaining indie cred while dealing with big names like Pusha T.


GENRE: Hip Hop

40. Matador
Is Matador still indie? Many a subversive guitarist jamming in his bedroom still dreams of joining the ranks of Ted Leo and Yo La Tengo, and with good reason. Matador has made a name for itself as part of Beggars Group, pumping out rock releases that recently have included more down-tempo, contemplative records from Kurt Vile and a debut from Esben and the Witch.



41. Lovepump United
Lovepump keeps the genre-bending party going, pushing boundaries with releases from the likes of manic disco screamers HEALTH and "chillwave bros" Washed Out, all wrapped in a glittering, tech-savvy motif.

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

GENRE: Noise/Chillwave

42. Not Not Fun
Sounds range from really out-there with trippy, experimental art-rock from Pocahaunted, to subtle and introspective like Weyes Blood and the Dark Juices' minstrel folk ballads.

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

GENRE: Psychedelic

43. Mad Decent
Diplo's technicolor imprint forges a community between dancehall pioneers like Diplo's own Major Lazer (in collaboration with Switch) and deviant punk outliers like Popo and a growing list of producers, rappers and other artists, piecing together a pulsing banger-factory.

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

GENRE: Hip Hop/ Dance

44. Mexican Summer
Mexican Summer burst on the scene in 2009, followed by a deluge of releases in the last two years, perhaps thanks to revenue from the wildly successful Best Coast album in 2010 or its relation to more established Kemado Records. Signature sounds are warm, upbeat and guitar-driven, though all over the map, with releases from everyone from the Samps to Real Estate.

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

GENRE: Indie rock & pop, electronic

45. Post-Present Medium
Helmed by No Age's Dean Spunt, PPM has released gems from the likes of dance-goth outfit Silk Flowers and tribal-drum-heavy Soft Circle.

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

GENRE: Post-Punk

46. Group Tightener
This small imprint under the direction of FADER editor Sam Hockley-Smith and Jamie Granat puts out solid, catchy 7-inches usually of the fuzzy, gritty variety with punk sensibilities, but as the label grows it is moving subtly towards recordings with synthesizers and samplers. These New Yorkers-by-way-of Olympia foster a great environment for experimental or one-off projects.


GENRE: Punk/Garage

47. Fat Possum
Once a huge punk label, releases are still generally punk-oriented, with occasional flares country and pop in albums from Wavves and Tennis.

Oxford, MS

GENRE: Indie/garage rock

48. K Records
K embodies the DIY mentality of its hometown; each release as intimately presented as the one before. Founded by Calvin Johnson and Candice Pedersen, K has been mining the nation's bedroom recordings for over 30 years


GENRE: Folk/Indie/Twee

49. Kill Rockstars
A historically riot grrrl label, KRS empowers its artists and has evolved to reflect the plaintive, playful sounds of the Olympia music community. Now all-female-run, (founder Slim Moon left in 2006), the sound has evolved over the years to incorporate dance pop in addition to punk and folk, while newer artists like Grass Widow mix guitar lines in the legacy of KRS fixtures Sleater-Kinney.


GENRE: Punk, Folk

50. Tzadik
Tapped into an active roster of innovative contemporary composers, Tzadik places a high value on art and the integrity of its artists' visions. The label is based out of the historical locus of downtown avant garde: New York's East Village.


GENRE: Experimental/Avant-garde/Jazz

This is part II of our 50 Best Indie Labels in America piece. To read part I, click here.