Considering how easy it is to record and release an album on one’s own, a record label may not be a necessity for a musician in 2016 — and its benefits may not be obvious given the precarious state of the music industry as a whole. Still, amidst the sea of countless new releases every week, there’s undeniable value in the stamp of approval from a trusted label, and plenty of them offer much more than a helpful co-sign. By handling the logistics of releasing, distributing and promoting albums, good labels can help artists actually focus on making and performing music, the side of the music business that most musicians prefer.

Right now, the Bay Area is full of exciting and vital record labels. The venerable Slumberland Records is the oldest included in this mix. Over 25 years in, the Slumberland team continues to elevate top-notch indie pop, including locals like Tony Molina and Terry Malts. Most of the inclusions in this mixtape, however, are much younger. Wave Dweller Records, for example, only launched within the last year. Over half of the labels here were founded by talented local musicians, including Death Records, Broke Hatre Records, and others, and all of them have a passion for championing great music.

This mix collects music from 13 of our favorite record labels. If you like what you hear, you’ll definitely want to check out this year’s Bay Area Record Fair on Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Swedish American Hall. With over 30 labels expected to be in attendance, it’s a great chance to survey local labels all in one place.

Track Listing

Cool Ghouls – “Days” (Empty Cellar Records)
Cocktails – “20,000 Arms” (Father/Daughter Records)
Summer Peaks – “Entwined” (Wave Dweller Records)
Teenage Chain – “All I Wanna Do” (Death Records)
Teal – “It Was All In My Head” (Broke Hatre Records)
Beekeepers – “Undertaker Bee” (Vacant Stare Records)
All Your Sisters – “Open Wide” (The Flenser)
BTs – “I Like It A Lot” (Southpaw Records / King Rocker Records)
Tony Molina – “See Me Fall” (Slumberland Records)
Violent Change – “Unit A” (Melters)
Everyone is Dirty – “Banana Split” (Royal Oakie Records)
Be Calm Honcho – “Bad Man” (OIM Records)
MANICS – “Chalk (fka I love you but I’m crying rn)” (Popgang Records)

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