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Thread: Most important record labels in prog (as of 2021)?

  1. #1

    Most important record labels in prog (as of 2021)?

    Just thinking, what in your view are (right now) the most important labels for prog stuff?


    - InsideOut Music
    - Frontiers
    - Mascot
    - KScope
    - ???

  2. #2
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    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    OK, interesting thread topic.

    Of course, this being PE you better rank Cuneiform high on the list.

    And Laser's Edge.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

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    Cuneiform
    Dur et Doux
    Moonjune
    Rarenoise
    Rune Grammofon
    Tzadik

    ...based on what interests me personally, of course.
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    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    I would say Inside Out is the biggest and has been the biggest for the past 25 years or so. At one point Magna Carta was pretty important but I think they moved on to other things and prog only makes up part of what they do now(afaik). Number two would probably be K-Scope. I would say also bad elephant, Moon June, Progressive Promotions and 10T although there are several others.
    When you list all the qualities that you despise and you realize you're describing yourself.

  8. #8
    "Important" is a matter of opinion. As said Inside Out, K-Scope and Frontiers have most of "bigger" artists, but lots of smaller labels still putting out stuff.

  9. #9
    Toff Records, Pendragon's label.

    My reason for nominating them is that whilst many acts from the 80s neo-prog scene would go into the world of self-publishing their music - Marillion, Fish, IQ, etc - Pendragon would be among the first to go the "make our own label" route that others would take.

    A nod should also go to Giant Electric Pea, IQ's label, for putting out debuts from the likes of Threshold and Big Big Train.

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    Member Marco's Avatar
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    Rune Grammofon and Cuneiform have been releasing high quality stuff out in a very very consistent way.
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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    It's a difficult question to comment on because "importance" can be measured in different ways.

    If we are talking important to artists or to fans, I would say "all of them". Every album that gets published by an existing label or a new label looking to establish a roster of prog artists is important in 2021 to sustaining the scene for artists and fans. And fans will tend to be more aware and/or give a new artist attention if it is released on a familiar label they already trust.

    If we are talking important in terms of influencing the scene, creating direction for the scene, or otherwise providing the beacon where others follow, I'd argue "none of them" - in 2021. In 2021, the "prog scene" is fractured into many sub-scenes that only loosely intersect, full of artists that self-identify as prog and as many that do not, but their label affiliation and/or fanbase brands them as prog. Each of these pockets fights futily for market share among the broader fanbase, which struggles to compete with the giants from the past for attention and credibility. I think the closest we would come to influentially important in 2021 is Prog Magazine. While not a label, they have a broad reach (relatively speaking) and the ability to amplify labels and artists within "the scene".
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  12. #12
    If we are restricting ourselves to present-day importance, I would nominate "Bandcamp".

    No, it is not an actual record label. But as a platform, Bandcamp has made it easier than ever for artists to do without labels/be their own label and get word out there, whilst at the same time keeping a vastly more generous cut of their take than Spotify and similar offer.

    Precisely because Bandcamp exists, every other label has to up their game, because every artist has the question at the back of their head "what do I get out of my association with this label which I wouldn't get out of just putting my stuff on Bandcamp?", and if the answer to that question is "nothing" or "not enough to justify the hoops I need to jump through to work with the label", then the artist isn't going to sign/renew a contract with that label.

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    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Personal preference (not all prog)

    Cuneiform
    Laser's Edge
    Esoteric
    Rune Grammofon
    Dur et Doux
    Tzadik
    Brownswood
    Gondwana
    Skin Graft
    Ian

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    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Warthur View Post
    If we are restricting ourselves to present-day importance, I would nominate "Bandcamp".

    No, it is not an actual record label. But as a platform, Bandcamp has made it easier than ever for artists to do without labels/be their own label and get word out there, whilst at the same time keeping a vastly more generous cut of their take than Spotify and similar offer.

    Precisely because Bandcamp exists, every other label has to up their game, because every artist has the question at the back of their head "what do I get out of my association with this label which I wouldn't get out of just putting my stuff on Bandcamp?", and if the answer to that question is "nothing" or "not enough to justify the hoops I need to jump through to work with the label", then the artist isn't going to sign/renew a contract with that label.
    That's a really good answer and I don't disagree with your reasoning.

    Keep one thing in mind however, which is that the major labels do not do BandCamp. Hence, no Inside Out (which is owned by SONY) on BandCamp.

    In my opinion, the majors keeping their stuff OFF of BandCamp raises the importance of BC to all the indies.
    Steve F.

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    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

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    随缘 SRS's Avatar
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    Is Musea still around? in recent past I thought of them as very important, doing a lot of reissues and also new bands.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    That's a really good answer and I don't disagree with your reasoning.

    Keep one thing in mind however, which is that the major labels do not do BandCamp. Hence, no Inside Out (which is owned by SONY) on BandCamp.

    In my opinion, the majors keeping their stuff OFF of BandCamp raises the importance of BC to all the indies.
    Very true, and I think this also contributes to lighting a fire under small labels and making it more important for them to up their game.

    The major labels have legal departments to go after pirates, PR departments to do publicity, and so on and so forth. All the moving parts you'd expect from a major player in the game which - in theory - a band signed to the label can benefit from. We've all heard horror stories about bands who signed to a major label but didn't get any meaningful backing in terms of publicity and so on, but again, the existence of Bandcamp and other platforms means that bands who've signed to a major label and literally gotten nothing out of the deal have an exit strategy. (And even bands who had those horror stories at least got a chunk of money in the form of an advance.)

    If you're putting your stuff out through Bandcamp, you need to do all the pirate-chasing yourself, all the publicity yourself, and so on and so forth. That's a lot of work! It's also a lot of work which some smaller labels don't offer any help with. For many artists, if they are doing the exact same amount of work regardless of whether they are independently putting their stuff out themselves via Bandcamp or whether they are signed to a small label, and being signed to a small label gets them few benefits and some restrictions (in the form of exclusivity etc.), then Bandcamp might end up looking like a better deal. Small labels really have to offer something now beyond "eh, we will give you a tiny token advance and put some money towards manufacturing physical media" to be worth it.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by battema View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by SRS View Post
    Is Musea still around? in recent past I thought of them as very important, doing a lot of reissues and also new bands.
    Back in business after a period of inactivity. I'm waiting for their reissue of the Mémoriance albums.

    I'll add the Finnish Svart Records and Polish GAD Records (the latter mostly for reissues).

  21. #21
    The reason why Cuneiform is and was -THE- most important label for progressive rock was that it actually dared/attempted and ultimately succeeded at taking the etymological virtue of "progressive rock" seriously. The sheer total musical creativity amassed in Cuneiform's roster would tote awe even to the non-believer if exposed to it.

    Ad Perpetuam Memoriam was fabulous during the 90s, but admittedly a bit "Cunei light" at the time. AltrOck/Fading were absolutely great throughout their entire run and still are (what's left of it, anyway), but they are/were still "ideological apostles" of the grand Cuneiform as I see it. Still, everything they released is certainly listenable and collectable.

    Rune Grammofon, Tzadik, Skin Graft, Robotic Empire, Relapse, Hydra Head, Thrill Jockey, Les Disques Du Soleil Et De L'Acier, ReR, God Mountain, City Slang, UgExplode, Delerium, Magaibutsu - all of these have released magnificently forward-thinking, advanced and radically intricate rock music.

    Not so at all with InsideOut. Except for the odd exception to rule (as in adopting Knifeworld and Bent Knee), they've been consistently dedicated to stylistically internal-cultural tropes and banale stereotypes of "sympho"-this-and-that, without the slightest understanding of developmental evolutions in rock music at large. K-Scope unfortunately didn't have too much more to offer beyond this either, although they too kept anomalies - like the very fine Henry Fool project.

    Musea and The Laser's Edge, however, were profoundly important for back-catalog strategies and have further continued to deliver on the strength of "direct" genre reference. So have Apollon and Karisma here in Norway, for instance. I really miss the Musea-offshoot Gazul of the late-90s.

    But essentially; just keep Cuneiform going for a few more years and there's everlasting joy to be had.
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  22. #22
    The likes of Dur Et Doux and Brainfeeder I would say in 2021 are the most important, pushing new artists and new sounds.
    Plenty of other great labels supporting older artists and groups but I wouldn't say that's important to prog in the same way.

  23. #23
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NogbadTheBad View Post
    Brownswood
    Gondwana
    I follow what they do - I check out almost every release of theirs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    In my opinion, the majors keeping their stuff OFF of BandCamp raises the importance of BC to all the indies.
    Very well said.

    However, BC allows those small labels and indie bands to exist (which is good), but often without releasing physical medias - which is a damper IMHO.

    Quote Originally Posted by SRS View Post
    Is Musea still around? in recent past I thought of them as very important, doing a lot of reissues and also new bands.
    Well, they're making noise again, but haven't seen much coming our way.

    I guess that like some here, Francis and Bertrand are keeping the label alive with the side acivities (distribution & vendors)
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  24. #24
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    However, BC allows those small labels and indie bands to exist (which is good), but often without releasing physical medias - which is a damper IMHO.)
    It's a damper to you, personally, but it's completely and understandably within their very smart and forward-looking business model. Most of these labels would not exist if they *had* to release physical. It allows them a place in the market on terms that they can afford. And maybe they'll grow to the point where they can offer a physical project.

    It's also allowed Cuneiform to have a ongoing 'digital-only' series.

    Win. Win. Win.

    If you want physical and a label doesn't offer it, that is too bad for you, but it isn't a strike against BC's very well thought out business model and the strategies that it makes possible for all the indies, larger and smaller and even tinier to have a place at the market.
    Last edited by Steve F.; 11-05-2021 at 10:07 AM.
    Steve F.

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    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  25. #25
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    But essentially; just keep Cuneiform going for a few more years and there's everlasting joy to be had.
    You're giving me a gold watch? Some whiskey? An ex wife?
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

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