The identity and purpose of record labels has shifted enormously over the past decade. While the majors have largely succumbed to the growing dominance of streaming and the way it's shaped listener habits, traditional indies have found themselves squeezed by digital distributors and 'label services' companies that purport to offer artists everything they need -- without having to sign on a label's dotted line.

But something that came up time and again during the curation of this list was the firmly-held belief that independent imprints continue to be much more than mere outlets for new music, or stables in which artists develop before either being poached or drifting into obscurity.  Intertwined with bootstrapped radio networks, clubnights, and more creative, community-led initiatives, it's clear that independent labels still have a vital role to play in providing a space for unique talents to develop and flourish.  ~ Phillip Williams

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