Indie Beat: An L.A. Holiday With Independent Label Market

Delicious Vinyl at the second Independent Label Market, L.A in May. (via IAMSOUND)

In Los Angeles, this holiday season brings plenty of festively lit palm trees, the return of pumpkin spice lattés and a plethora of great indie records on vinyl, too. The Independent Label Market, founded in London in 2011 by Joe Daniel, is returning to L.A. for a third time December 8— this time with a holiday theme.

At the newly renovated Mack Sennett Studios in East Hollywood, about 28 label heads and their co-workers will set up customized booths offering their latest and greatest records for sale. And there will be non-music goods, too. Joining the mix this time will be the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) and its bookstore, the buzzed-about, 10-seat East Hollywood restaurant Sqirl and a pop-up shop by the nail artist-turned-Tumblr-sensation Nail Swag.

“We don’t do it for any kind of profit,” says Niki Roberton, founder of L.A.-based IAMSOUND Records, which has put on the SoCal offshoot of ILM since 2012. “It’s just something that we do to kind of bring the L.A. independent labels together and make it a bit more of a community out here.”

Independent Study: IAMSOUND Records

The first Independent Label Market was founded in a spirit of back-to-basics, lemonade-stand entrepreneurship— the idea being to poke holes in the barriers separating executives at London fixtures like Mute, XL and Moshi Moshi from the rank-and-file music lovers who buy their products. The experiment was a success, and mere months later an American version arrived in Brooklyn.

In L.A., though, the hunger for camaraderie among far-flung indie labels has added a new layer of meaning. While the Brooklyn ILM ended up being a one-time-only event, December 8 will mark the third market L.A. has seen in two years. Roberton says that’s because the simple act of uniting under the same roof has helped form bonds that didn’t previously exist.

“L.A.’s kind of this sprawling mass and I feel like when you’re working it can be an isolating place, especially as compared with places like London and New York,” she says. “I wanted to try and have something that would bring it together a bit more and help put faces to names.”

The market, which Roberton says attracts around 700 music fans over the course of a day, has done that and more. IAMSOUND, for its part, has struck up partnerships with fellow labels Stones Throw and Manimal Vinyl as a result of the events. And at least one label, Burger Records, has found new music to release thanks to an enterprising artist who made the most out of the unusual concentration of A&R people.

Putting on the market costs around $5,000— most of that going to booth rental and other logistical needs— and so far IAMSOUND has found a corporate sponsor to underwrite each one. Puma and Myspace got behind the first two, while the holiday market is being backed by Search Party, the company run by music supervisor Randall Poster, perhaps best known for putting music in films by Wes Anderson, as well as the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”

“I’ve always tried to champion indie musical voices in the work that we do on film and I thought this would be a good way to support independent record labels,” says Poster. “And it will be nice to have a point of contact where we’ll maybe get exposed to some new voices and new bands.”

Roberton says the plan is to continue hosting the market at least once a year. For 2014, there have already been talks of bringing a version to yet a new frontier— South By Southwest.

The Holiday Independent Label Market will take place Sunday, December 8 from 2-8 PM at Mack Sennett Studios in East Hollywood, Los Angeles. For the first time, there will be a pop-up bar.

See a full list of participating labels below. 

· 100% Silk
· Anti-
· Burger 
· Concord Music Group (Stax, Fantasy, Hear Music)
· Dangerbird
· Delicious 
· Echo Park Records
· Eenie Meenie
· Everloving
· Frontier
· Hit City USA
· Hydra Head
· IAMSOUND
· Innovative Leisure
· Mad Decent
· Manimal Vinyl
· Mono Prism
· Ninja Tune
· No Sleep
· Not Not Fun
· Now Again
· Origami
· Permanent