Webster Hall is unique in that it serves as a nightclub, concert venue, and record label. While New York City might seem like a tough place for smaller labels with three of the Big Four labels in the city, all that competition can actually be a good thing. Here are some NY labels that we’d like to hear more from.
- Giant Step Records: Giant Step started in 1990 as a “music and lifestyle marketing company,” focused on booking shows and connecting with clients. Their record arm was founded in 1995 to further their aims of promoting great music in the Big Apple. Recent releases include jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum (Everything is Everything: The Music of Donny Hathaway), bassist Esperanza Spalding (Chamber Music Society), and modern soul singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed (Come and Get It!).
- E1 Music (distributed by Universal): Formed as Koch Records back in 1999, this label has signed heavy-metal acts and children’s artists. While the sheer variety can be overwhelming, it seems to be workingover 100 albums have charted on Billboard’s Independent Chart. Elisabeth Withers’ new R&B album No Regrets dropped September 14, while Zakk Wylde’s heavy Black Label Society released Order of the Black on August 10.
- Razor & Tie (distributed by Sony): Besides being the company responsible for the wildly popular Kidz Bop albums, Razor & Tie also maintains a wide roster of artists. Georgia group Dead Confederate (Sugar, 8/14) plays a blend of grunge and country, and Dar William’s eclectic body of folk songs is collected on Many Great Companions.
- Matador Records: Chris Lombardi started Matador over 20 years ago in a small apartment in New York. Today, the list of artists who have graduated from the label is as impressive as the current roster. Pavement, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and Lou Reed all released material on the label at one point. The newest album is by Glasser, a solo artist who creates remarkably full-sounding songs on her debut, Ring.
- Astralwerks (distributed by EMI): This primarily techno/electronic music label has been active since 1993. This is the label to go to for both ’80s synthpop hits and modern house smashes, with some folk and rock peppered in between. Current artists on the label include David Guetta, Kylie Minogue, and Hot Chip.