A truly great record label has a distinct sound, and in most cases a look, that makes it stand out from the rest of the pack. Those labels are the ones that go on to define certain scenes, or even the generations during which they put out their best music. Books about two such labels — 4AD and Stax — have come out recently, and they’re both superb. They lead off our list of great books about record labels that will give you the inside scoop on how some of your favorite music got released.
Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD, Martin Aston
Today they put out records by big indie names like Grimes and Deerhunter, but in the 1980s, Bauhaus, The Birthday Party, Pixies, Cocteau Twins, and more of the most important bands of the last 30 years called 4AD home. Aston’s recently released history of the label is a must-have for anyone who wants to understand the music world after punk, the pitfalls of getting too big, and the legacy of the most important label of the decade.