by Communications Intern Sam Redd
Arcade Fire. Magnetic Fields. Neutral Milk Hotel. Bands like these have helped define the adventurous spirit of independent music. But where would they be without the help of their independent label, Merge Records? The Durham, North Carolina-based label is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with special events and reissues of classic albums from its back catalog. Now there’s another reason to celebrate: Future of Music Coalition will be honoring Merge at our 2014 Future of Music Honors event on Monday October 27.
Co-founders Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan started the label in 1989, primarily to release the work of their own band, Superchunk. From there, Merge was expanded to include the co-founders’ friends’ music and now releases work by a wide-ranging array of artists from across the globe. For many artists, working with Merge has been crucial to finding critical and commercial success; the label can an even boast a Grammy win for Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. And they’ve done it with an enduring commitment to treating artists fairly and equitably.
One of those artists is Hiss Golden Messenger, the critically acclaimed country-folk-rock project led by singer/songwriter M.C Taylor. We’re thrilled to announce that our Future of Music Honors event will include a special performance by Hiss Golden Messenger alongside performances by Rebecca Gates, Shawn King of DeVotchKa, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and many more.
Aside from serving a pioneering role in growing the audience for independent music, Merge has also been active in advocating for policies that support the independent music sector and allow for more diverse kinds of artists to find audiences. Mac McCaughan testified before a house subcommittee in 2007, touting the benefits of noncommercial FM radio and charming policymakers in the process:
Commercial radio is about aggregating the largest possible number of listeners in a targeted demographic, but community-based radio is about serving its audiences. It has a unique power and desire to be a conduit for news and culture, and is essential to the diversity that defines cultural life in this country. As a record label owner, I can tell you that noncommercial radio has been a leading source of support for the music that we release, and we would not have had the chance to introduce many of our artists to music listeners and build such a dedicated customer base without the help of noncommercial radio.
The Honors event will be held at The Hamilton Live in Washington D.C. on the evening of October 27, 2014 and a carefully selected gourmet dinner will be served during the performances after a relaxed cocktail hour. Tickets for this exclusive event are limited, so get yours as soon as you finish reading this sentence.