Dischord Records

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Dischord Records
DIS logo m.png
Founded1980 (1980)
Founder Ian MacKaye
Jeff Nelson
Genre Punk rock, post-hardcore, indie rock, emo, rock
Country of origin United States
Location Washington, D.C.
Official website www.dischord.com

Dischord Records is a Washington, D.C.-based independent record label specializing in punk rock. The label is co-owned by Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, who founded Dischord in 1980 to release Minor Disturbance by The Teen Idles. [1] [2] [3] With other independent American labels such as Twin/Tone, Touch and Go Records, and SST Records, Dischord helped to spearhead the nationwide network of underground bands that formed the 1980s indie-rock scene. [4] These labels presided over the shift from the hardcore punk that then dominated the American underground scene to the more diverse styles of alternative rock that were emerging. [5]


The label is most notable for employing the do-it-yourself ethic, producing all of its albums and selling them at discount prices without finance from major distributors. [6] Dischord continues to release records by bands from Washington D.C., and to document and support the Washington D.C. music scene. [7] As of October 2016, the label employs four people. [8]

Dischord was a local label in the early days of hardcore, and is one of the more famous independent labels, along with the likes of Alternative Tentacles, Epitaph Records, SST Records, and Touch & Go Records. [6]

The logo of the label was created by Nelson, who has an associate degree in advertising design. [9]


Influenced by existing labels like Dangerhouse Records, [10] MacKaye and Nelson took up residence in the now known "Dischord House" and ran the label out of its premises. [10]

Dischord's first release was Minor Disturbance by Teen Idles [11] released in 1980. [12] The band members cut, folded, and glued the record packaging themselves to keep costs down. [11] The label's first split 12" was Faith / Void Split by the bands The Faith and Void. [12]

Dischord limits itself to bands from the D.C. scene. The label offers the same basic deal to all artists: Dischord fronts a certain amount of money to record and manufacture [13] and once those costs are recouped, the label's distributor takes 30 percent of the profit [14] band and the label split the remainder of the profits. [13] [14]

"We don't use contracts, lawyers, any of those kinds of things," MacKaye says. "We are partners -- they make the music, and we make the records." [11]

Jeff Nelson has claimed the venture was never intended to be profit-making but was instead simply a way to get their friends albums in fans hands. [14]

In spite of criticism over the years about how the label is run, MacKaye claims everything works and will continue to operate in the same fashion of no contracts or lawyers. [15]

"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." [15]

In 2017, they put their catalog on Bandcamp for free streaming or purchase. [16]


Bands such as Minor Threat, [17] Government Issue, [18] The Faith, [19] Void, [20] Iron Cross, [18] Embrace, [21] Rites of Spring, [21] Nation of Ulysses, [21] Scream, [22] Soulside, S.O.A., the Teen Idles, Gray Matter, Jawbox, [21] Marginal Man, [21] Shudder to Think, [21] Dag Nasty, [21] Lungfish and Fugazi [6] have released records on Dischord.

Additions to the Dischord roster as of the late 1990s and 2000s include Q and Not U, [6] Beauty Pill, Antelope, Soccer Team, [23] French Toast, Faraquet, Black Eyes, The Aquarium, Title Tracks, Edie Sedgwick, Slant 6, and Andalusians. Many of these acts, notably Q and Not U and Black Eyes, are both influential and experimental post-hardcore bands.


Dischord Records influenced many other labels such as Simple Machines [13] and DeSoto Records. [13]


  1. Azerrad 2001, p. 132.
  2. Blush 2001, p. 138.
  3. Heller, Jason (November 18, 2014). "Primer: Where to Start with the Righteous Noise of Dischord Records". The A.V. Club . Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  4. Dolan, Jon (January 2005). "The Revival of Indie Rock". Spin 21 (1): 53.
  5. Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 . Penguin Books. ISBN   978-1-1012-0105-3.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Cogan 2008, p. 82.
  7. Cogan 2008, p. 83.
  8. Creative Time (25 October 2016). "Creative Time Summit DC - Do It Yourself - Keynote: Ian MacKaye" . Retrieved 9 April 2018 via YouTube.
  9. Beaujon, Andrew (May 2003). "Out of Step with the World". Spin 19 (5): 86.
  10. 1 2 Stafford, James (March 18, 2015). "The Roots of Indie: Dischord Records". Diffuser.fm . Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  11. 1 2 3 Johnson, Christopher (August 24, 2005). "A New Generation of Punk at Dischord Records". NPR . Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  12. 1 2 Finn, Craig (October 27, 2011). "The Faith and Void: the glorious Dischord of 1980s harDCore punk". The Guardian . Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  13. 1 2 3 4 "Dischord Records: Out of Step with the World". Spin. June 13, 2003. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  14. 1 2 3 Segal, David (July 3, 1995). "The Dischord Label: The Perfect Pitch of Principles". The Washington Post . Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  15. 1 2 Bray, Ryan (May 2, 2016). "Buttholes and lawyers: How a lawsuit threatened the indie music model". The A.V. Club . Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  16. Jones, Josh (August 3, 2017). "DC's Legendary Punk Label Dischord Records Makes Its Entire Music Catalog Free to Stream Online". Open Culture. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  17. Blush 2001, p. 142.
  18. 1 2 Blush 2001, p. 147.
  19. Blush 2001, p. 146.
  20. Blush 2001, p. 150.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Blush 2001, p. 157.
  22. Blush 2001, p. 148.
  23. Cohen, Matt (October 1, 2015). "Listen: Soccer Team, 'Too Many Lens Flares'". Washington City Paper . Retrieved January 22, 2020.

References and bibliography

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