Independent record labels are and have always been a very important factor in the music industry. On a global scale they account for roughly 66% of all releases but only profit from 20% of the sales according to Soundscan. A lot of upcoming artists start out on indie labels before getting signed to larger corporate labels, who usually have better channels of distribution and in general just more money. This however doesn’t come for free and big labels usually in turn demand artists to go in a certain artistic direction, which the label sees the most profitable and also giving up the rights for their own music.
Independent labels are very often extremely important for actually paving the way for many musicians and spotting the talents before even a lot of fans have. In the spirit of free artistic expression and because we love when musicians experiment and try to push the boundaries of what is possible and conceived as ‘good taste’, we hereby present a list of some of the independent labels currently doing exactly this.
Since their debut release of the compilation “Cairo Quest” in 2020, Rakete has kept releasing amazing projects since and their Nile09 mix series brings in some of the sharpest names and takes the temperature of the Egyptian electronic scene. Their rooster currently consists of many amazing names including Molotof and Post-Drone.
Jordan: House of Afandi / HOFF RECORDS
House of Afandi started out as a party collective, but in late 2020 they also transformed into an independent record label with the release of the collective funky house EP ‘HOF01’. If you are around Amman be sure to check out their instagram for upcoming events or else just for hopefully more great future releases.
Morocco: Cosmo Records:
Cosmo Records was founded back in 2009 and is still today an active part of the Moroccan electronic scene, with their latest release being Traumer’s double LP ‘3 years ago’ released back in September 2021. The vision is to create a touchpoint between Western, West - African and oriental music and hereby creating new ways of blending genres and musical spectrums.
Bahrain/UK: Dar Disku
Dardisku is a Bahraini/UK label founded by childhood friends Mazen Almaskati and Vish Matre in 2019. The label has until now released 4 LP’s in, like their name suggests, disco-sounding spectrum, but the duo also regularly host radio shows and play live gigs all around the world.
Tunisia: Are You Alien Records
Since its establishment in 2019 the Are You Alien collective and record label has released many good projects including this March’s collective release ‘Spicy Space Vol. 2’. Are You Alien also hosts amazing electronic dance parties, which you definitely don’t wanna miss out on if you are in Tunis.
If you haven't heard about BLTNM you haven’t been paying attention. The Ramallah based independent digital record label was founded back in 2016 by producer Al-Nather and rapper Shabjdeed. Since then the duo has released some of the most defining and thoroughly made musical projects that the region has seen in the last 10 years. The label itself has grown into a full fledged independent musical platform with multiple artists and Shabmouri as its general creative director. BLTNM’s vision is clear: “We want to become the go-to place for Arab artists to create and release their music, without succumbing to the creative compromises often demanded by big labels. The plan is to make our culture the mainstream culture”.
Iran: Sampatic Records
Sampatic Records are one of the main record labels and event organizers representing and showcasing the always lively underground scene in Tehran. For years the label has released many amazing and interesting projects ranging from experimental electronic, house and acid to rap.
In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia the Jeddah based independent record label Wall of Sound is the one to look out for. A couple of years ago founder Ahmed Shawly, a longtime music industry professional, sensed a whole new scene coming alive and founded Wall of Sound. The label has already put out a lot of great releases and have an impressive rooster ranging from pop, rock and rap.