All Songs Considered
11:51 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Do You Have A Favorite Record Label?

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 8:13 pm

Do you have a favorite record label? These days, it can be hard to tell. Truthfully, I barely know what artists record for which label in the digital age. I love the new William Tyler guitar record, the new Baths album and Sonny and the Sunsets, but ask me to name the label ... and I'm blank. That information never comes up on my computer when I play a song on iTunes — or my phone — or on SoundCloud or Spotify. Back in the analog days, I'd put on a record and seeing those labels spinning at 33 1/3 rpm would forever seal an association between artists and their labels for me: The Beatles on Capitol, Pink Floyd on Harvest, Aretha Franklin on Atlantic.

It's unfortunate, too, because it used to be one of the great ways to discover music. Record labels telegraphed the sort of music you'd hear. They had a philosophy, an aesthetic and a standard (and still do, of course). As someone who bought a lot of records, I could walk into a store, see an unknown band (such as Triumvirat) on the Harvest label, buy it and know that it was probably going to be a good prog-rock group, most likely from Europe. (It turned out I loved that first Triumvirat record, by the way.)

All that said, despite the realities of the digital age, music geeks will be music geeks and there are plenty of you loyal to plenty of labels. If you've got a favorite, how did you find it and how do you keep up with its releases?

Or maybe you're not even aware of record labels. If you don't know what label your favorite bands record for, how do you find new music? Who do you trust and what is it about them that you've come to trust?

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