A Beginner’s Guide to Record Labels is our most recent series feature that will cover the current large record labels in the music industry. A record label can be defined as a business organization that holds most financial responsibilities over a group of artists. The company will also possess production, distribution, marketing, promotion, copyright, and A&R duties. During this series we have previously discussed the major record label-owning companies including Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment. Last time, we focused on independent record labels belonging to the Beggars Group company.
We shall continue the series with some of today’s significant independent metal and hard rock record labels. All the labels below are considered independent because they are not owned by the three major record labels previously stated. Razor & Tie, Wind-up, Eleven Seven Music, The End, Megaforce Records, and eOne Music do not belong to a music-related parent company and are not associated with each other except in regards to genre.
Razor & Tie
Bio: Razor & Tie was created in 1990 by Cliff Chenfeld and Craig Balsam. The company is headquartered in New York City and is currently partnered with Artery Recordings. While the label is mostly known for mainstream rock albums, a large amount of profit is gained through their Kids Bop compilations, which began in 1991.
Notable Releases: Brand New’s Déjà Entendu (2003), All That Remains’ The Fall of Ideals (2006), Danko Jones’ Sleep is the Enemy (2006), Shadows Fall’s Fire from the Sky (2012), The Sword’s Apocryphon (2012), Brad’s United We Stand (2012), Nonpoint’s self-titled (2012), P.O.D.’s Murdered Love (2012), Sworn In’s The Death Card (2013), HIM’s Tears on Tape (2013), Protest the Hero’s Volition (2013), Hatebreed’s The Divinity of Purpose (2013), Yellowcard’s Lift a Sail (2014), Chiodos’ Devil (2014), The Pretty Reckless’ Going to Hell (2014)
Current Artists: Foreigner, The Pretty Reckless, All That Remains, HIM, Yellowcard, The Ready Set, Chelsea Grin, Hatebreed, Chiodos, P.O.D., Atilla, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Nonpoint, For Today, Shadows Fall, Protest the Hero, I Declare War, Norma Jean, The Sword, Crossfaith, Finch, Adestria, Sworn In, Sirens and Sailors, Such Gold, Starset, Kyng, Death of an Era, Sylar, Brad, Wilson, Red Sun Rising, Sons of Texas, Wounds, Hearts & Hands
Summary: This label has created a distinguished title for itself with a diverse array of established rock and metal acts, yet the constant release of low-brow musical compilations seem to lower its overall redeemable reputation. The individual albums within Razor & Tie’s discography are strong within their niche, but when deathcore is placed in the same bubble as Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, there seems to be an obvious inconsistency
Bio: Wind-up Records was formed by poker player Alan and his wife Diana Meltzer in 1997. Unfortunately, Alan passed away in 2011 at the age of 67 while leaving over a million funds towards his doorman and chauffeur. The New York-based company has been referred to many times as the world’s largest independently-owned record label. They have also released multiple superhero soundtracks including Daredevil, Fantastic 4, and The Punisher.
Notable Releases: Creed’s Human Clay (1999), Drowning Pool’s Sinner (2001), Boy Hits Car’s self-titled (2001), Evanescence’s Fallen (2003), Seether’s Disclaimer II (2004), Alter Bridge’s One Day Remains (2004), Finger Eleven’s Them vs. You vs. Me (2007), Five for Fighting’s Slice (2009), Hawthorne Heights’ Skeletons (2010), O.A.R.’s King (2011), Young Guns’ Bones (2012), Civil Twilight’s Holy Weather (2012), Scott Stapp’s Proof of Life (2013), Filter’s The Sun Comes Out Tonight (2013), Crobot’s Something Supernatural (2014)
Current Artists: Five for Fighting, Filter, Young Guns, Civil Twilight, Aranda, Strange Talk, The Revivalists, The Griswolds, Crobot, The Virginmarys, Jillette Johnson, Speak, Genevieve
Summary: Many may discredit the radio-rock-ready albums in this company’s past, but from a business perspective, the high-charting singles have done this label damn well in regards to financial and touring success. Most would agree that the current roster seems to not have as large of draw in comparison to past
Eleven Seven Music
Bio: Eleven Seven Music was founded in 2006 by 10th Street Entertainment CEO Allen Kovac. The label operates on both coasts in New York and Los Angeles and is notable for winning the FMQB rock label of the year in 2008 as well as Mediabase’s #1 Independent Rock label. They also have created the sub-label, Five Seven Music, for indie and alternative groups including Dirty Heads and Nico Vega.
Notable Releases: Buckcherry’s 15 (2006), Everclear’s Welcome to the Drama Club (2006), Motley Crue’s Saints of Los Angeles (2008), Trapt’s Only Through the Pain (2008), Drowning Pool’s self-titled (2010), Sixx:A.M.’s This Is Gonna Hurt (2010), Vince Neil’s Tattoos & Tequila (2010), Cold’s Superfiction (2011), Crossfade’s We All Bleed (2011), Cavo’s Thick as Thieves (2012), Escape the Fate’s Ungrateful (2013), Nothing More’s self-titled (2014), Hellyeah’s Blood for Blood (2014), Papa Roach’s F.E.A.R. (2015), Apocalyptica’s Shadowmaker (2015)
Current Artists: Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch, Motley Crue, Escape the Fate, Drowning Pool, Hellyeah, Buckcherry, Crossfade, Pop Evil, Sixx:A.M., Deuce, Cavo, Nothing More
Summary: Similar to Wind-up Records, this company has held on to some questionable hot topic/80’s nostalgia pandering groups, but each serve the purpose of possessing a solid following, novelty, and ability to sell out those large rock stadiums
The End Records
Bio: The End Records was created by Andreas Katsambas in 1998 and is yet another New York-based independent label although originally operating out of Pasadena and Salt Lake City. In 2008, they won the CMJ Indie Label of the year award followed by success on Billboard Top 30 with Mindless Self Indulgence. Last year, the label signed a deal with the Alternative Distribution Alliance followed by providing distributor services to smaller indie labels including 7Hz, Crash Collide Records, Evilive Records, Imagen Records, Music For Nations, Small Stone Records, and more.
Notable Releases: Enslaved’s Below the Lights (2003), Voivod’s Katorz (2006), Stolen Babies’ There Be Squabbles Ahead (2006), Agalloch’s Ashes Against the Grain (2006), The Gathering’s Home (2006), Tub Ring’s The Great Filter (2007), Sleepytime Gorilla Museum’s In Glorious Times (2007), Lordi’s Deadache (2008), Dir En Grey’s Uroboros (2008), Mindless Self Indulgence’s If (2008), Novembers Doom’s Aphotic (2011), James Iha’s Look to the Sky (2012), The Dandy Warhols’ This Machine (2012), Anvil’s Hope in Hell (2013), Sponge’s Stop the Bleeding (2013)
Current Artists: Cradle of Filth, HIM, Helloween, Hinder, Billy Talent, Trapt, Danzig, Lordi, Funeral for a Friend, Paradise Lost, Everclear, Alien Ant Farm, The Charlatans, The Dandy Warhols, Anvil, Better Than Ezra, Dead Letter Circus, The Mission, The Orb, AxeWound, Novembers Doom, Badly Drawn Boy, Hatchet, Charm City Devils, Krokus, James Iha, Daniel Lioneye, American Sharks, Empress AD, Nocturnal Poisoning, My Jeruselum, Arthur Channel, These Are They, The Wild Beyond
Summary: The fact that this company has the balls to release such experimental and risky releases as avant-garde and black metal amongst mainstream indie rock is deserving of high praise. Although most won’t see their roster frequently hitting the charts or radio airplay, there is a large amount of talent hidden within
Bio: Megaforce Records was formed in 1982 by current Breaking Bands Management owners Jon and Marsha Zazula. The label is notable for being the first to publish music by Metallica while continuing their reputation with Billboard Top 200 presence and RIAA certifications. Their main office resides in New York City with additional output from Philadelphia.
Notable Releases: Manowar’s Into Glory Ride (1983), Metallica’s Ride the Lightning (1984), Stormtroopers of Death’s Speak English or Die (1985), Overkill’s Taking Over (1987), Anthrax’s Persistance of Time (1990), Testament’s The Ritual (1992), Fozzy’s self-titled (2000), Wellwater Conspiracy’s self-titled (2003), Ministry’s Rio Grande Blood (2006), Bad Brains’ Build a Nation (2007), Living Colour’s The Chair in the Doorway (2009), Meat Puppet’s Sewn Together (2009), Lit’s The View from the Bottom (2012), Mushroomhead’s The Righteous & the Butterfly (2014), Fuel’s Puppet Strings (2014)
Current Artists: Anthrax, Bad Brains, Mushroomhead, Living Colour, Fuel, Lynam, Lit, Meat Puppets, Truth & Salvage Co., The Hellraiser
Summary: The bar was set high with the addition of Metallica to the music industry and this label continued impressive musical discoveries throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but more recently the company seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel and hoping to re-establish mostly the past-their-prime groups
Bio: eOne Music was founded by Michael Koch, not associated with the US corporate billionaire family, in 1999. The company is most notable for earning the most Billboard hits of any independent music label in history with the inclusion of rock, hip hop, country, children’s, and classical genres. The label is owned by Entertainment One Ltd., which also handles TV and film production and distribution.
Notable Releases: Dope’s No Regrets (2009), Kittie’s In the Black (2009), Black Label Society’s Order of the Black (2010), High on Fire’s Snakes for the Divine (2010), Chickenfoot’s III (2011), Bush’s The Sea of Memories (2011), The Contortionist’s Intrinsic (2012), Saving Abel’s Bringing Down the Giant (2012), Impending Doom’s Baptized in Filth (2012), Chimaira’s Crown of Phantoms (2013), Pop Evil’s Onyx (2013), Avatar’s Hail the Apocalypse (2014), Crowbar’s Symmetry in Black (2014), Unearth’s Watchers of Rule (2014), Ace Frehley’s Space Invader (2014)
Current Artists: Black Label Society, Bush, Saving Abel, Overkill, Tesla, Ace Frehley, Pop Evil, Dope, Impending Doom, Chickenfoot, Unearth, Within the Ruins, Kittie, Crowbar, Fit For An Autopsy, High on Fire, The Chariot, The Contortionist, Cliver, Throwdown, Glamour of the Kill, Reflections, Full Devil Jacket, Avatar, No Bragging Rights, Dagoba, Conditions, Legion, ’68, Black Crown Initiate, Like Monroe, Dark Sermon, Motopony, Assassins, Black Fast
Summary: Some “independent” music labels seem to garner such large amounts of financial gain via other entertainment backing, that it is difficult to consider them part of the homegrown independent label family. eOne Music falls into this category as they are owned by a relatively respectable parent company and it comes to no surprise that their past catalog and roster is indeed impressive