So, Pittsburgh City Paper decided to create a Pittsburgh Record Label Roundup, featuring larger labels like the North Side’s Get Hip Recordings, to smaller ones like the electronic Machine Age, to help give a glimpse into the diverse and plentiful selection of record labels based in Pittsburgh.
Follow along with us (almost) every other weekday, as we will feature a different Pittsburgh-based label ... until we run out.
Pittsburgh Record Label Roundup below:
Driving While Black Records
Founding Date/Founder(s): 2016, Jordan Montgomery
Genre: Hip Hop, but planning to eventually work with artists of other genres. “Our goal is to be known for quality and consistency and to become a label with a signature sound and easily identifiable brand.”
Artists/Bands Highlights: Montgomery, livefromthecity, Yasin Ali (formerly known as Lucas Akira), Saani Mac (who also goes by his DJ name Jaybee), DJ Aesthetics, JM The Poet
Services: "We provide brand management, distribution, licensing, and event planning services to our artists. We have a licensing and distribution deal with Misra Records, which provides opportunities for our artists to expand their audiences outside of the Pittsburgh market."
Info: facebook.com/dwbrecords, not currently taking submissions, but can be reached at [email protected]. “We’re always willing to listen or say hi.”
When Montgomery was promoting his debut album, Driving While Black in 2016, he noticed that people were buying the merchandise before even hearing the songs. “Seeing how invested people were in the brand made me realize that I could create a platform for both myself and other artists,” he says. Montgomery felt that there was a plethora of great talent in Pittsburgh, but a dearth of opportunities to help artists further their careers. So he created Driving While Black Records (DWB) to help build an infrastructure for artists in the city.
DWB prides itself on showing what can happen when a group of like-minded individuals come together to create opportunities for themselves. “Each member of DWB has had their own successes within their individual careers, but once we started working as a collective, we noticed a trend of great things that started to come,” says Montgomery. “If other artists, labels, promoters, and media continue to collaborate with one another, we can continue to grow the city’s musical ecosystem.”
“Our role in the music industry is to continue to expose the world to Pittsburgh music and to restore a feeling of quality and consistency that the industry has been missing. With so many tools and resources available to independent artists and labels such as streaming services and social media, we can continue to make a name for ourselves and show the world what we have to offer.”
Founding Date/Founder(s): 1997, members of Anti-Flag
Genre: Punk rock
Artists/Bands Highlights: National and international acts. Local highlights include: Anti-Flag, Homeless Gospel Choir, Nightmarathons, Swiss Army, Latecomer, Lawn Care, Worlds Scariest Police Chases
Inspirations: Asian Man Records, Red Scare, No Idea Records, Chunksaah Records
Info: a-frecords.limitedrun.com, currently taking submissions, visit a-frecords.limitedrun.com/contact (Chris Stowe, A-F manager, personally listens to everyone)
Anti-Flag took matters into their own hands 22 years ago when they noticed their friends and peers were doing “cool things” that other record labels weren’t putting out. So, the band created A-F Records to release the records they thought were important. The label now focuses mainly on manufacturing vinyl for bands and helping them grow to reach a wider audience.
“We're a pretty DIY operation with some of the tools and opportunities of a larger label,” says Stowe. “We still assemble records ourselves in-house and do a lot of handmade stuff while at the same time having distribution for our artists, which is kind of what I strive to do, to be the best of both worlds and make sure A-F Records is as artist-friendly of a label as possible.”
“My goal is to give our bands a good footing and the tools they need to grow. The music industry is constantly changing and evolving all around us, so I feel like our role is to keep releasing good punk rock records that we care about and staying true to our DIY ethos, so when the music industry flips itself on its head again we'll still be here doing what we're doing.”
Founding Date/Founder(s): 2015, Steve Tanzilli and Ed Traversari
Genre: All types
Artists/Bands Highlights: Elias Khouri, Deja Monea, Hannah Jenkins, Chase and the Barons, Gabe Reed, John Rushlander, Alissa Logsdon, SouthWest DFRNT
Services: "We have a partnership with Red Caiman Media (recording studio) located on Fifth Avenue, where musicians record their songs. We also have a Talent and Booking Agency (within Pioneer Records) that books our bands, provides CD release parties at The Club at Stage AE, and music videos for them produced in collaboration by both our Cinema Department and our Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management students."
Info: facebook.com/ppupioneerrecords, rolling submission (each semester) for “Pioneer Star Search,” email [email protected] for info and dates.
After receiving student feedback that showed a strong interest in the ins and outs of creating a successful album and navigating the music industry, Steve Tanzilli and Ed Traversari, associate professors in Point Park’s Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management Department, decided to create a student-run record label to give them a chance to learn how to run a record label. Over the course of a semester, students learn everything from signing an artist to music videos and hosting/promoting album release parties – by dealing with real-life musicians and bands looking to get their start, like CP’s 2017 Battle of the Bands winner, Chase and the Barons.
“I love to see them take the project from the very beginning to the time we have the CD Release Party at Stage AE,” says Traversari. “We are a University with an entertainment program that gives its students as many 'real-life experiences' as possible. Pioneer Records happens to be one of them.”