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Dan Sultan
Photograph: Supplied Dan Sultan

5 labels crafting the Melbourne sound

Get to know the masterminds supporting your favourite Melbourne musicians

By Rebecca Russo

Melbourne's thriving music scene wouldn't be what it is without its independent record labels that nurture artists, push their music out to the rest of the country, and don't ask them to compromise on their sound. Get to know the labels feeding the noise and making the Melbourne sound a reality.

Show your support by going to gigs at Melbourne's best live music pubs, or get the goods on vinyl at the best record stores in Melbourne.

5 Melbourne music labels

Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett
Photograph: Woodford Folk Festival

1. Milk! Records

Artists you know: Courtney Barnett (above), Jen Cloher, Fraser A Gorman, Loose Tooth

Milk’s blood runs deep through Melbourne’s alt rock scene, in most part because it’s run by two figurehead artists, Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher. Set up in 2012 as a vehicle for Barnett to release her first EP I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris, Milk not only release albums but also curate special events, compilations, collaborations and limited edition vinyls.

Vance Joy
Vance Joy
Photograph: Frontier Touring

2. Liberation

Artists you know: Dan Sultan, Vance Joy (above), World’s End Press, Emma Louise

Formed in 1999 by Mushroom’s Michael Gudinski, Liberation is an independent label dedicated to signing and nurturing artists for the big wig labels around the world. They do a great deal to promote young-up-and-comers overseas, but still have their roots in classic Aussie acts, representing the likes of Jimmy Barnes, Adalita and Archie Roach.

Big Scary
Big Scary
Photograph: Supplied

3. Pieater

Artists you know: #1 Dads, Big Scary (above), Airling, Tom Snowdon

A bedroom label that’s well and truly upgraded to a living room label in the past few years, Pieater is run by Big Scary’s Tom Iansek and Joanna Syme alongside their manager Tom Fraser. The label currently manage bands and release records, and they have ambitions to use that music to build schools through their Song for a School campaign.

Photograph: Louis Rocketeer

4. LISTEN Records

Artists you know: Pikelet (above), Hi-Tec Emotions, Biscotti

LISTEN Records does a great deal to bring the underground overground. Dedicated to supporting and promoting female and LGBTQIA+ artists from across the country, LISTEN Records emerged from the LISTEN project, a hands on vehicle to increase diversity in the music industry. Under the guidance of director Chloe Turner, this little label family is opening avenues for a more gender diverse music scene.

Dick Diver
Dick Diver
Photograph: Supplied

5. Chapter Music

Artists you know: Dick Diver (above), NO ZU, Laura Jean, Twerps

Chapter Music is helmed by Guy Blackmore and Ben O’Connor, two dudes that are super passionate about the local underground scene. Unearthed in 1992, Chapter has spent years cultivating the kind of cred record labels can only dream of, having done most of the brunt work bringing Melbourne’s DIY jangle scene to international acclaim.

DIY beats

Alice Ivy
Photograph: Dominik Schmarsel


Arts Centre Melbourne run a series of workshops to give female/trans/non-binary musicians the opportunity to develop their electronic music production skills beside established female producers and mentors Alice Ivy (pictured), Kids At Midnight and audio engineer Bek Varcoe. Express your interest online.

Get amongst it

White Hex gig at the Curtin
Photograph: Phoebe Powell

Where to see live music every night of the week

Music Music venues

Melbourne is the musician's dream city: there's a vibrant independent music scene, and our live venues have become launching pads for bands and solo artists alike. We've rounded up a list of places to see excellent live music any night of the week.


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