Record labels are an option that a lot of people seem to forget about. By looking at what record label an artist is/was signed up to, you can find new artists that are/were also signed up. A lot of smaller record labels tend to specialise in smaller genres of music, and they seem to try and hold a particular quality amongst the musicians they sign. It's not recommeded looking up the record label of larger artists, since a lot of them will just be signed to more major record labels, who dont take up artists based on style, but based on what will bring them the most money. Some suggested record labels include:
Labels available for streaming
These labels have made their releases available for streaming on Bandcamp, Deezer, Rdio or Spotify. The availability differs per streaming option. Their names link to a list of releases on Rdio but most of these will also be available on Deezer/Spotify. The link to RYM is there for releases that may not be available on Rdio but could be available on D/S.
- Analog Africa Small collection of great older African (60s/70s) releases from this Germany-based label. Have a listen to African Scream Contest (Raw & Psychedelic Afro Sounds from Benin & Togo 70s) (Rdio) RYM
- Buda Musique French label with a large collection of music from around the world, publisher of the Éthiopiques-series. RYM
- Document Records Vintage Blues, Jazz, Boogie Woogie, Gospel and Country, generally made between 1900 and 1945. Highly recommended RYM | Wikipedia
- Eastblok Music Electronic music from mostly Russia and Poland (not a huge collection but very good). Don't expect any Folk music :) Have a listen to Swing Diskoteka and Café Sputnik to hear what they're about. RYM
- Freestyle Records Interesting Label with also some re-issues, expect some good funk, soul, electronic. Have a listen to Revolucion! Original Cuban Funk Grooves 1967 - 1978 (Rdio) RYM
- GRGPNK Records Garage Rock/Punk compilations.
- Honest Jon's Records One of the best labels out there for the better in obscure music, specializes in Caribbean, African, Middle East, Indie Rock, Blues, Jazz (both artist releases and compilations). The number of notable releases is very long. Highly recommended. RYM
- Manufacturer Seems to have some overlap with Soundway Records?
- Mr Bongo Records a.k.a. Mr Bongo Classic Brasilian Bossa, Samba, Soul and Funk from this UK-based label. Try Brazilian Beats Box Set on Rdio RYM
- Nomadic Wax Only two releases (and compilations at that: African Underground Vol. 1: Hip-Hop Senegal and African Underground: Depths of Dakar) are known here but they also have releases by other African Hip-Hop artists like Faso Kombat, Master Nomilla and Sen Kumpe. RYM
- Pneuma Interesting collection of what looks like classical/Morish/medieval music releases from this Madrid-based label. Need to rate. RYM
- Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Great collection of folk music from around the world. Highly recommended. RYM
- Topic Records Very good label with a large collection of folk from around the world (mostly Europe, Central/South-East Asia). Although their artist tagging sometimes goes wrong and uses "Various Artists" on compilations, I'd highly recommend this. RYM
- Yazoo Records (includes those by Shanachie Entertainment) Good collection of early rural American and ethnic music, their online releases are now done by Shanachie Records. Notable compilations Early American Cajun Music: Blind Uncle Gaspard, Delma Lachney & John Bertrand, Alabama Blues 1927-1931 and Juke Joint Saturday Night. RYM
- World Music Network Their series The Rough Guide contains an excellent selection of compilations that can introduce you to a long list of countries and genres. Everything from world folk from Central Asia to more contemporary like Fado, Flamenco Nuevo and Tango. Highly Recommended. RYM
- Académie Nice collection of compilations, includes a couple from the French colonies.
- Arhoolie Records Re-issue label with a large catalogue of older music (10s/70s), genres include country blues, cajun, zydeco, tejano, mariachi, klezmer, rebetica, folk. This one is highly recommended. RYM
- Cavendish Music Re-issue label, mostly contains odd compilations like "60s and 70s Cheese" but also small gems like Fromage A La Funk. RYM
- Cleopatra Records Strictly a re-issue label with a large collection of 80s music. Although most of these don't rise above the schlock-level there are some gems for people (like me) who find titles like Industrial Metal For Fitness or New Wave Goes to Hell: A Gothic-Industrial Tribute to the Music of the 80's (Rdio) a must-play. RYM
- CMH Records Large re-issue label, mostly bluegrass/tribute compilations. Notable examples: American Gothic : Bluegrass Songs of Death & Sorrow and Pickin' On Dolly Parton: A Bluegrass Tribute. RYM
- Dionysus Records Re-issue label with mostly 60s/70s Garage Rock. Notable compilation: We Ain't Housewife Material (Rdio). RYM
- EPM Huge collection of mostly French orientated music. Need to rate.
- Jazzman Records Re-issue label specialized in 50s/60s jazz, funk, soul. They have some of the best compilations around like Florida Funk (Rdio), Quantic Presents... The World's Rarest Funk 45s (Rdio) and Spiritual Jazz (Rdio). RYM
- Master Classics Records One of the larger re-issue labels with an interesting collection of compilations. Where others have on average 25 tracks in a compilation, Master Classics deals in bulk with loads of them having 100 tracks. Check out Vintage Songs Of Sex, Drugs & Cigarettes, Reefer Jazz & Blues, Burlesque - 100 Classics and Surf Rockin' '60s - Rare 45 RPM Instrumentals.
- Not Now Music Re-issue label with budget-priced compilations with mostly 50s/60s music. This means that you expect a lot of re-releases of known albums/compilations, however there are some gems like Rockabilly From Hell (Rdio) and The Roots Of Psychobilly (Rdio). RYM
These are labels that have made their releases available for direct download.
These are labels that only sell their releases by post or stores.