https://www.billboard.com/music/figureGreat DJs are masters of curation: They can take an empty dance floor and quickly fill it with writhing bodies because they’ve got taste, they know how to read the room, and they know what’s coming up next. It’s those instincts that inspire many DJs and producers to start their own labels and put out music by both themselves and up-and-coming talent.
It’s a common move, but there’s no one path to running a label: Sometimes, a DJ gets big before starting their label. Sometimes, the label grows right alongside the DJ’s career. And other times, the label becomes so influential that it starts a sound that sweeps the dance world and creates its own subculture.
From Diplo and Skrillex to Claude VonStroke and Jamie Jones, here are the must-know labels run by your favorite DJs across genres.
What You Need to Know: Led by living icons Above & Beyond, Anjunabeats and its imprint Anjuadeep have become synonymous with quality in the trance community. Arty, Mat Zo, Yotto, Seven Lions and more have all found homes in its ranks. If you want to peek into the future of the genre, this is the best place to start.
What You Need to Know: Since 2003, Armada has become one of the most popular labels in the trance and electro market. It gets its name from the first two letters of its founders’ names: Armin van Buuren, Maykel Piron, and David Lewis. It’s put out melodic tunes from Morgan Page, Arty, John Dahlback, Thomas Gold, and more.
What You Need to Know: In May of 2014, Dutch DJ and producer duo Yellow Claw took its love of music to the next level by founding this imprint of Spinnin Records. A broad range of genres and sounds are represented, with releases from Mighty Fools, Happy Colors, DJ Sliink, Wiwek and more.
What You Need to Know: Late 2017 saw Jauz take a bite out of the dance business pie when he launched this bass-loving, genre-blending label. He’s released tons of great tunes on his own and has collaborations with everyone from Zeds Dead to Yookie, DJ Snake, Crankdat, GG Magree and more.
What You Need to Know: The music business is a business, but that doesn’t mean it has to be soulless. 3LAU started BLUME as both a label and a philanthropic venture. He donates some of the money his label makes to organizations like the educational non-profit Pencils of Promise. He’s donated more than $200,000 to date, and the success of his recent Ultraviolet LP certainly continues to raise the bar.
What You Need to Know: Germany’s king of acid techno, Boys Noize, broke necks with his debut LP Oi Oi Oi, and he’s never rested on his creative laurels. His label BNR is known for pushing sonic boundaries with releases from Destructo, Spank Rock, Djedjotronic, SCNTST, and more. It’s also the home of his Skrillex side-project, Dog Blood.
Brooklyn Fire Records
What You Need to Know: Tommie Sunshine is one of dance music’s most fun personalities and outspoken minds. In 2010, he brought his fun-loving sensibility to shelves with his first release from TJR and Figure. Today, Brooklyn Fire Records has released songs from Brohug, Haus of Panda, MureKian and more.
What You Need to Know: Dubstep dynamo Borgore started this twisted corner of the music world to release his own off-the-wall ideas, but he’s also helped Flinch, Figure, Bad Royale, Jauz, SAYMYNAME, Spag Heddy, Terravita, Sandro Silva, and more.
What You Need to Know: In 2016, Zeds Dead originally launched deadbeats as a means to promote the awesome music coming out of its hometown of Toronto. It’s released tunes from Illenium, GG Magree, DNMO, Hunter Siegel, and more. The label has also expanded into a nationally touring mini-festival that brings legacy and up-and-coming bass acts to a venue near you.
What You Need to Know: Steve Aoki founded Dim Mak 22 years ago, long before he ever stepped to the decks. What started as a DIY punk label has grown to be one of the leading voices in electronic music, helping kickstart legendary acts like MSTRKRFT, Bloody Beetroots, Zedd, The Chainsmokers, and more.
What You Need to Know: Claude VonStroke laid the golden egg in 2005. He couldn’t have known then that his San Francisco-based boutique label would become a sonic movement. His ghetto-tech style, forged by J. Phlip, Justin and Christian Martin, and others has become its own branded sound. Shiba San, Kill Frenzy, Eats Everything, Breach, Justin Jay, and more have all released game-changing tracks on the indie label, and its annual Dirtybird Campout has become a must-attend for rabidly-loyal fans.
What You Need to Know: The taste-making French label, born of Daft Punk‘s former manager and DJ-producer Busy P, just celebrated its 15-year anniversary. It only releases a few records a year, hitting its 100 offering in 2017, but with iconic releases from legends such as Justice, Mr. Oizo, SebastiAn, Breakbot, Uffie and more, it’s safe to say that when Ed Banger speaks, influencers listen.
What You Need to Know: This love child of A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs has a reputation for scouting incredible talent before the majors find it. It kicked off in 2007 with Kid Sister, Kavinsky, and Kid Cudi, among others. It’s also repped Giraffage, Oliver, Flosstradamus, RL Grime, Run the Jewels, Crookers, Congorock, Treasure Fingers, as well as rappers Danny Brown and Lil Yachty.
What You Need to Know: Seattle’s superstar duo ODESZA created this collective in 2015 as a platform for musical and visual artists the band believes are pushing the envelope of sight and sound. It’s helped share the vision of producers Jai Wolf, Louis Futon, Kasbo, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Big Wild ,and more. If you’re looking for grand, sweeping tunes, this is your one-stop shop.
What You Need to Know: Soon after breaking out as one of dance music’s most promising young people, Oliver Heldens founded this Spinnin imprint. It’s been an outlet not only for his music and his HI-LO alias, but also Sander van Doorn, Tommie Sunshine, Shermanology, Chocolate Puma, MOTi, Brohug, and more.
What You Need to Know: An absolutely favorite among house fiends, Hot Creations was founded by Jamie Jones and Lee Foss in 2010. It’s been a home to tracks from Todd Terry, Steve Lawler, Patrick Topping, MK, Danny Daze, and more, and has spawned two sub-labels, HOTTRAX and Emerald City.
What You Need to Know: Haitian-born producer Michael Brun has made it his life’s mission to spread the true colors of his culture through his music, and he’s given a voice to other driven artists via his label Kid Coconut. Sine 2014, it’s released music from Basement Jaxx, DubVision, Eden Prince, and more.
What You Need to Know: For dance fans, Diplo’s label hardly needs an introduction. Since 2006, it’s helped mold the careers of international stars Dillon Francis, Jauz, Riff Raff, Slander, Zeds Dead, Wax Motif, Slushii, Yellow Claw, and more. Its annual touring mini-festival, Mad Decent Block Party, is also a fan favorite.
What You Need to Know: Would you believe that Skrillex got his start on deadmau5‘s label back in the day? The Canadian producer founded mau5trap in 2007, and it’s always been a launch pad for huge names. Excision, Chris Lake, Mord Fustang, and Tommy Trash, are all alumni. Rezz, ATTLAS, Feed Me, BlackGummy are just a sample of the newer artists coming up.
What You Need to Know: Not just a Kung Fu master, Laidback Luke runs a digital dojo of his own. Mixmash Records focuses on house in all kinds of subgenres, with releases from Steve Angello, A-Trak, Steve Aoki and others among its rotation.
What You Need to Know: Nicole Moudaber started her MOOD imprint in 2013, and it’s already a force to be reckoned with, thanks to a stack of successful releases from heavyweights Carl Cox, Pan-Pot, Pleasurekraft, Carlo Lio, and more. The sound she pushes on the decks and in the crates also sets the mood for her weekly radio show.
Never Say Die
What You Need to Know: Tommy Dash, aka SKisM, and his buddy Nick Sadler started this bass behemoth in 2009. It’s a bedrock of the dubstep scene, though it believes in bass music in all its forms. It’s released tunes from Skrillex, Flux Pavilion, Noisia, Excision, Must Die!, Foreign Beggars, and more.
What You Need to Know: Say hello to one of the newest labels on the scene. Amtrac started Openers in 2017 as a means to release his own tracks and tunes from up-and-comers that deserve extra shine. He runs it with his buddy Durante, who recently released his Unraveled EP. It’s a growing enterprise, but its party at Miami Music Week 2018 showed great promise.
What You Need to Know: Skrillex founded one of the most well-known and respected independent labels in dance musicin 2011. It’s maintained its reputation as a breeding ground for stars through the years with releases from Marshmello, Zhu, Dillon Francis, Anna Lunoe, Hundred Waters, Chris Lake, Mija, Destructo, Dillon Francis, Kill The Noise, Rusko, What So Not, and so many more.
What You Need to Know: DJ Snake is a solid hit maker, and he knows a hit when he hears one. So far, his Premiere Classe label has only released one tune, but it’s a serious heater. 4B and TEEZ’s “Whistle” is a back-breaking banger people all around the world can get behind.
What You Need to Know: Since 2012, Nicky Romero has championed excitting, electrifying sounds. Besides being a vehicle for Romero’s own cool experiments, Protocol has seen releases from NERVO, Krewella, R3hab, Tommy Trash, Vicetone, and more. The label just celebrated it’s 100th release at the start of 2018.
What You Need to Know: Big room house, electro-pop, and everything that makes the club shake has a special place in Hardwell‘s heart, so the Dutch superstar started Revealed Recordings in 2010 as a means to give those sounds life. It’s enjoyed a diverse lineup, with releases from Eric Prydz, 3LAU, Armin van Buuren, Cash Cash, Tiesto, and even Kid Ink.
What You Need to Know: When Martin Garrix could no longer take the politics of his old home, Spinnin, in 2016, he broke away to found his own label, promising to give young talent a fair shake at stardom. DubVision, Arty, Matisse & Sadko are joined by CODES, Brooks, Loopers and more. Plus, Garrix gets to release whatever he wants.
What You Need to Know: You’ve probably heard of Toolroom, even if you didn’t realize it was founded by Mark Knight. It’s the kind of label producers and DJs talk about with wide-eyed amazement. It just celebrated 15 years of success with a compilation featuring work from Knight, Booka Shade, Danny Howard and more.
What You Need to Know: Afrojack is a man of countless hits, and he pays it forward by mentoring the artists he releases on his Wall Recordings. Founded in 2007, the label has been home to songs from Shermanology, John Dahlback, Dyro, Quintino and more.