Eurocentric Studies (France, Germany, Italy, Benelux, etc.)
OK, I get it. Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America are scary. Exploring their music is dangerous…you might get earworms. Let’s all just crawl back into our Eurocentric shells here like we’re in academia, and if these labels are still too exotic, you might want to get out more. Take a cruise or join a tour group if you must. But seriously, if you haven’t found anything in previous geographic lists (or more likely, haven’t dug deeply enough), give these labels the college try, and you won’t regret it.
If you browse eMusic’s “world” section by these three countries, you get less than three pages worth of repetitive, worthless titles, and virtually none of these labels show up at all.
French Labels - Alpha Better (pop, hip-hop singles); Because Music (rock, synth pop); Faites Leur Des Disques (house); Hope Music Group (pop singles); JTV Digital (French African, pop, electronic); Kamal A La Prod. Inc. (hip-hop singles); La Musique du Beau Monde (house); LEPM DIGITAL (accordion folk); Nuit Blanche (pop, hip-hop); Patch Work Production (reggae, cafe music); Petrol Chips (synth-pop, rock, hip-hop, lounge); PGD/Titanium Digitals (1980s, pop); Pschent (synth-pop, house, disco); SIX SARL (pop, rock); Swish MGMT/France (R&B); vietnam (pop); Y&W (hip-hop); Too small but maybe worthwhile, mostly in pop/rock: Apolon Music France, Capitol Music France, ICI, Opulence Clique, Circus company, Popzer Music France, Edge of Town, Touche Francaise, CDQP, Pour Vous (electronic EP singles).
Italian Labels - AEROSTELLA (rock); Arision (jazz, electronic); Bacci Bros (film soundtracks); Bagana Edizioni Musicali SAS (metal); Bordello A Parigi (pop); Cantieri Sonori (pop); Edizioni Leonardi Srl (cheesy oldies, pop); Egea (light jazz, classical); El Segell del Primavera (rock, pop); ELETTRONICA ROMANA (tech house EPs); EMI General Music srl/EMI Music Publishing Italia Srl (Morricone, etc. classic film soundtracks); Expanded Music Srl (electronic, pop); Felmay (pop); Filibusta Records Srls (well produced pop with attitude); Flipper Srl (classical); Forward Music Italy Srl (prog rock, punk, blues); Four Flies Srls (vintage rock, pop); Grooviglio (pop); Hell Yeah (ambient, electronic, synth-pop); Jazz Engine (best source of new jazz on eMusic); Joe & Joe (pop vocalists); La Lumaca Dischi (pop, rock, hip-hop, dub); Look Studio Srl (jazz, electronic, world, classical); MBC Srl (folk, blues, R&B); Milk Snc (jazz); Monteverde (cheesy MIDI); Nota (jazz, classical, hip-hop); Novunque (pop, rock); Pirames International Srl (pop); Pizzico (house, techno); RadiciMusic (folk, rock); Relief Records EU Sas (hip-hop, reggae, pop); Rivoluzione Dischi (pop singles); Rupa Rupa (reggae, pop, hip-hop); Saar Srl (old jazz/blues, cheesy pop); Slow Motion (techno); Start Studios Srl (pop, hip-hop); Terre Sommerse (jazz, pop, classical); Traktoria (tech house); Trepertre Srl (neo-disco, electronic); THEWEBENGINE SRLS (pop, cheese); Wiz Music Srl (proto-punk?, 1980s pop rock); WM Boxes Ed. (jazz); zyx/discomagic (disco). Searching for labels with “Srl” at the end yields a metric ton that fail to reach a significant number of titles or are overrun by compilations; some might be worthwhile.
For a lot of these above, I can’t help but think of Italian Spiderman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhHhXukovMU
German Labels - Amselcom (electronic w/ vocals); Bassukah (hip-hop); Berlin Aufnahmen [ViP] (techno); Berliner Music (pop techno); Berlinist (tech house); Chrom (avant-garde, electronic); Complatt (house); Cosmic Disco (electronic); Frucht (house); Gallery (cheesy EBM); Grundsound (folk); Guesthouse Berlin (techno); Hamburg Aufnahmen (techno); Harthouse (techno); Jazzwerkstatt; Karo.Me (rock); Laika lebt (rock); Mind Field (melodic techno); Muller (techno); Naturmacht Productions (doom metal); O*RS (techno); Panda Bär (spoken word); stille (all Klaus Hoffman folk, all the time); Strange Ways (synth-pop); Trikont (folk punk, experimental, rock); Trocadero (industrial synth-goth?); Unknown Capability (East German Olympic electronica); Volume Berlin (techno); Zeitstrafe (alt. rock, punk, metal, synth-pop); Zoom (cheesy synth-pop); Berlin Music Commission (v/a compilations). There’s probably a fair bit more in house and techno, but I’m not going to go looking for it.
Other or Mixed European Labels - Alter K (all genres), Amsterdam Classics (classical); Arcadia (pop); Artist & Company (folk rock); Aube (electronic); Barbes (world); Blowpipe (synth-pop, rock, electronic); Boumquer Edition (pop, hip-hop); Connected Records Holland (house EP singles); Deephouse Amsterdam; Detroit-Berlin (Belgian techno); Digital Distribution Netherlands (pop, electronic, jazz); Domestica (old synth-pop); DZV (Pater Moeskroen’s Dutch folk rock); Equipe (pop); Europe Black Ink (very short electronica); Flexrecords (pop singles); Ghoststyle Records (Belgium) (techno EP singles); Hans Mondial (darkwave industrial, drone, folk); Heidens Hart (Dutch black metal); Inbetweens (classic rock); Knekelhuis (electronic); Krishna Music Group (Italian & French pop singles); Le Fornia (hip-hop); Live in Europe-Amstel (jazz, world); Mascarpone (experimental); Musiche Furlane Fuarte (rock, pop, hip-hop, dub, world); 1dayrecords Amsterdam (light techno singles); Sound Vision Studio (Dutch acoustic and folk pop); Stahlplatten (Swiss techno); Strange Life (electronic); Stroom (new wave, electronic); Thot (hip-hop); Under Pressure (Belgium) (techno EP singles);
Note that inclusion in these lists does not denote approval; it just means there’s a significant number of albums to browse. Nobody needs to be told that a lot of what’s left on the site sucks. Being more accessible than other lists, you can judge for yourself, and I will say that I find quality in Europe to be more consistent overall than the other regions I’ve posted. I think there’s enough good stuff on these labels alone to keep the average music lover subscribed, assuming they’re willing to sample things they’ve never heard of. I’ve probably missed plenty, so please help fill in the blanks.
From here, my top ten label priorities for exploration are currently Trikont, Alter K, vietnam, Petrol Chips, Knekelhuis, Hell Yeah, Chrom, Pschent, Storm, Filibusta. Before beginning this label-hunting jag, I’d pretty much only downloaded from or browsed Jazz Engine, Harthouse, and Because Music (all still fine but no longer a priority) from this list. A lot of effort goes a long ways, so I hope you’ll explore too!
Individual Favorites from the Heart of Europe - Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra, Le SuperHomard, Kid Francescoli, Christine and the Queens, Fitness Forever, Lazar (IT), Transfigure. Admittedly, most of what I Iiked from countries on this list is no longer on the site. With this list and knowing where to search, this list will assuredly grow.
Stay tuned next week for the geographic finale of Northern Europe and the UK.