Pioneering punk label Dischord Records put entire catalogue online free
In what is unprecedented times, we’re forced to explore the archives and discover new means of musical entertainment while music venues across the globe remain closed.
With music festivals cancelled, tour dates postpone and frustrating number of planned album releases delayed, the current pandemic is wreaking havoc throughout the music industry and fans attempt to source their sonic enjoyment from different areas.
While the foundations of punk music have multiple different influencers, seminal Washington DC punk label Dischord have always had their say. The independent label, co-owned by Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, founded the company in 1980 in order to release Minor Disturbance by The Teen Idles. From there, Dischord focused on a nationwide network of underground bands and continued to spearhead the punk movement with their uncompromising approach to the music industry.
“We don’t use contracts, lawyers, any of those kinds of things,” MacKaye once commented on the ethos of Dischord Records. “We are partners—they make the music, and we make the records.”
Nelson, echoing MacKaye’s sentiment, added: “From the beginning of this label, people have said that the way we do things is unsustainable, unrealistic, idealistic, and we were just dreaming,” he said. “Well, the dream is now 35 years old, so they can go fuck themselves.”
Having always triumphed the do-it-yourself ethos of working in the industry, Dischord refused to be drawn into heavy commercialised major distributors and have always attempted to sell records at an affordable price. Taking their message to the next level, the label uploaded their entire catalogue online free to Bandcamp while leaving the option to pay for the music up to the listener.
Now, however, as the crisis continues to cause serious financial difficulty for all record labels and stores, we’re revisiting Dischord’s Bandcamp catalogue in a bid to soundtrack our self-isolation. Given Bandcamp’s decision to waive its sales fee over the next three months in order to provide financial support to artists, please try to purchase some of the material if you can afford it.