Partnerships and exclusive record deals are becoming an increasingly hot topic with electronic music vocalists and producers. As a result, with the significant growth of electronic music and the dramatic rise in popularity and demand, the booming business has led to exclusive contracts between several electronic music artists and globally-recognized record labels. Major record companies, which include Sony and Universal, are large corporations that allow funding to the world’s biggest artists. Major labels assist in broadening the artist’s consumer base and marketing their albums. Record deals are crucial to the development of an artist, expediting radio promotion, sales, and distribution. In addition, some artists signed to the same label may eventually collaborate, establishing a networking hub within the company.
Independent labels, often artist-owned, are preferred by some to protect their artists rights to their music. However, indie labels may lack the funds to support an artist whose music is at the forefront of mainstream. Several electronic artists own their own labels, and depending on the contract, allow partnerships that take the artist’s career to the next level while still safeguarding their independence. Many worldwide marketing and distribution deals have assisted in the development of dance music and an artist's success with chart-topping releases and multi-platinum hits. Here is a list of 5 of the top major record labels, along with their most prominent electronic artists featured in bold text.
1. Astralwerks Records
Partnered by Universal Music Group, Astralwerks Records has been paramount for dance music in America the past two decades. The New-York based label, originating with the visionary sounds of Electronica in the ‘90s, is home to some of the most groundbreaking electronic artists of the era. Establishing the imprint as a catalyst to innovative genres during an early tech-house and ambient techno epoch, Astralwerks released classics by preeminent pioneers Kraftwerk, Eric Prydz, Future Sound of London and Photek.
Focusing on forward-thinking artists, Astralwerks announced a partnership with Deadmau5 last year and signed as an exclusive distributor for Deadmau5’s imprint Mau5trap Recordings. This year also marked several major milestones for the legendary label, including Porter Robinson’s Worlds and Dirty South’s With You. Serving as the first major electronic label in the U.S market, other artists on the label’s roster are the NERVO sisters, Mat Zo, David Guetta, and many more.
2. Columbia Records
Columbia Records, owned by Sony Music Entertainment, is one of the most successful record labels in the world. After a century and a quarter, Columbia Records is a powerful force in mainstream music, establishing superstars and providing soundtracks that represent a revolution in music. More recently, with electronic music in the new millennium, the label adopted new luminary talent. Last year, Sony Music and Columbia ramped up their dance music artistry with a record deal with Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk, releasing the duo’s first album in seven years, Access Memories. This year, upcoming releases on Columbia Records include Dillon Francis’ new album Money Sucks, Friends Rule on October 28 and Calvin Harris’ Motion on November 4. Also, the French wunderkind Madeon is on Columbia.
3. Ultra Records
Established by former Virgin Records executive Patrick Moxley, Ultra Records is another premier Electronic Dance Music brand in North America. For five consecutive years, Ultra Music won the award for “Best American Dance Label” at Winter Music Conference. In January 2013, Ultra merged their operations with Sony Music Entertainment, a global partnership and collaboration that continues to strengthen Ultra at the forefront of electronic music. Specializing in multiple platinum hits, label milestones include releases with Benny Benassi, Kaskade, Wolfgang Gartner, Steve Aoki, Kygo, and Carnage. Deadmau5's upcoming remix album will be released on Ultra. In addition, Ultra Records produces a series of mix dance compilation albums, Ultra Mix. For 15 years, the series has focused on electronic hits of the year.
4. Def Jam Recordings
Def Jam Recordings, owned by Universal Music Group, celebrated its 30th anniversary in August of this year. The highly recognized label signed exclusive contracts with Afrojack releasing “As Your Friend” and Alesso with tracks “Tear Up The Roof” and “Heroes (We Could Be).” Most recently, Axwell /\ Ingrosso were added to the Def Jam roster. Def Jam Recordings CEO Steve Bartels said: "We are proud at Def Jam to have Axwell /\ Ingrosso choose us to be their label home. Their music is forward, innovative, invigorating, and boundless. Def Jam has the artistry and energy of DJ culture within its pedigree, right there in our logo." Axwell /\ Ingrosso’s debut album will be released by Def Jam in 2015.
5. Interscope Records
Interscope Records is acknowledged for developing chart-topping artists. Owned by Universal Music Group, Interscope is home to Ellie Goulding, who’s been featured in tracks by Zedd, Madeon and Calvin Harris. In 2012, Zedd actually released his debut studio album Clarity through Interscope Records. Interscope’s roster includes Arty as well. Earlier this year, Insomniac Events announced a partnership with Interscope Records to create a new EDM label, Insomniac Records. Pairing two of the top companies in their respective fields, the label represents all areas of the electronic music spectrum. Founder and CEO of Insomniac, Pasquale Rotella said: “Interscope and Insomniac formed Insomniac Records because we saw the need for a label that fosters the unique talents of dance music artists while also giving them a powerful platform to share their music with fans around the world.”