Sub Pop

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Sub Pop_table_infobox_0

Sub PopSub Pop_header_cell_0_0_0
Parent companySub Pop_header_cell_0_1_0 Warner Music Group (49%)Sub Pop_cell_0_1_1
FoundedSub Pop_header_cell_0_2_0 1986 (1986)Sub Pop_cell_0_2_1
FounderSub Pop_header_cell_0_3_0 Bruce Pavitt, Jonathan PonemanSub Pop_cell_0_3_1
Distributor(s)Sub Pop_header_cell_0_4_0 ADA (US)

Outside Music (Canada) Merlin Network (digital)Sub Pop_cell_0_4_1

GenreSub Pop_header_cell_0_5_0 Sub Pop_cell_0_5_1
Country of originSub Pop_header_cell_0_6_0 United StatesSub Pop_cell_0_6_1
LocationSub Pop_header_cell_0_7_0 Seattle, WashingtonSub Pop_cell_0_7_1
Official websiteSub Pop_header_cell_0_8_0 Sub Pop_cell_0_8_1

Sub Pop is a record label founded in 1986 by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman. Sub Pop_sentence_0

Sub Pop achieved fame in the late 1980s for signing Seattle bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney, central players in the grunge movement. Sub Pop_sentence_1

They are often credited with helping popularize grunge music. Sub Pop_sentence_2

The label's roster includes Fleet Foxes, Foals, Beach House, The Postal Service, Flight of the Conchords, Sleater-Kinney, Blitzen Trapper, Father John Misty, clipping. Sub Pop_sentence_3 , Shabazz Palaces, Bully, METZ, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, TV Priest and The Shins. Sub Pop_sentence_4

In 1995 the owners of Sub Pop sold a 49% stake of the label to the Warner Music Group. Sub Pop_sentence_5

History Sub Pop_section_0

Formation Sub Pop_section_1

The origins of Sub Pop can be traced back to the early 1980s when Bruce Pavitt started a fanzine called Subterranean Pop that focused exclusively on American independent record labels. Sub Pop_sentence_6

Pavitt undertook the project in order to earn course credit while attending Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Sub Pop_sentence_7

By the fourth issue, Pavitt had shortened the name to Sub Pop and began alternating issues with compilation tapes of underground rock bands. Sub Pop_sentence_8

The Sub Pop #5 cassette, released in 1982, sold two thousand copies. Sub Pop_sentence_9

In 1983, Pavitt moved to Seattle, Washington, and released the ninth and final issue of Sub Pop. Sub Pop_sentence_10

While in Seattle, he wrote a column for local newspaper The Rocket titled "Sub Pop U.S.A.", a column he ended in 1988. Sub Pop_sentence_11

In 1986, Pavitt released the first Sub Pop LP, the compilation Sub Pop 100, which featured material by artists including Sonic Youth, Naked Raygun, Wipers, and Scratch Acid. Sub Pop_sentence_12

Seattle group Green River chose to record their Dry as a Bone EP for Pavitt's new label in June 1986; Pavitt couldn't afford to release it until the following year. Sub Pop_sentence_13

When finally released, Dry as a Bone was promoted by Sub Pop as "ultra-loose grunge that destroyed the morals of a generation". Sub Pop_sentence_14

Also in 1987, Jonathan Poneman provided $20,000 in funding for Sub Pop to release the debut Soundgarden single "Hunted Down"/"Nothing to Say" in July 1987, followed by the band's first EP Screaming Life that October. Sub Pop_sentence_15

Poneman soon became a full partner in the label. Sub Pop_sentence_16

Pavitt focused on the label's artists and repertoire aspects, while Poneman dealt with the business and legal issues. Sub Pop_sentence_17

Both men decided they wanted the label to focus on "this primal rock stuff that was coming out," according to Pavitt. Sub Pop_sentence_18

The "Seattle sound" Sub Pop_section_2

In early 1988 Pavitt and Poneman quit their jobs to devote their full attention to Sub Pop. Sub Pop_sentence_19

Raising $43,000, they incorporated that April. Sub Pop_sentence_20

"Of course that was spent in, like, thirty days", Pavitt recalled. Sub Pop_sentence_21

"We almost went bankrupt after a month". Sub Pop_sentence_22

That August Sub Pop released the first single by Mudhoney, a band featuring former members of Green River. Sub Pop_sentence_23

Sub Pop released the Mudhoney single "Touch Me I'm Sick" in an intentionally limited first pressing of 800 copies to create demand. Sub Pop_sentence_24

The strategy was later adopted by other independent labels. Sub Pop_sentence_25

Pavitt and Poneman studied earlier independent labels ranging from Motown to SST Records and decided that virtually every successful movement in rock music had a regional basis. Sub Pop_sentence_26

The pair sought to create a cohesive brand identity for Sub Pop. Sub Pop_sentence_27

The label's ads promoted the label itself more than any particular band. Sub Pop_sentence_28

The label also sought to market a "Seattle sound", which was accomplished with the help of producer Jack Endino, who produced 75 singles, albums, and EPs for Sub Pop between 1987 and 1989. Sub Pop_sentence_29

Endino recorded cheaply and quickly; in order to operate this way, he utilized some consistent studio techniques, which gave the records a similar sound. Sub Pop_sentence_30

In November 1988 Sub Pop released "Love Buzz", the debut single by Aberdeen, Washington band Nirvana, as the first entry in the Sub Pop Singles Club, a subscription service that would allow subscribers to receive singles by the label on a monthly basis by mail. Sub Pop_sentence_31

At its peak in 1990, the club had two thousand subscribers. Sub Pop_sentence_32

The club made Sub Pop a powerful force in the Seattle scene, and effectively made the label's name synonymous with the music of the Seattle area—much in the same way Motown Records was to Detroit—and helped to secure the label's cash flow. Sub Pop_sentence_33

The original series was discontinued in 1993, followed by Singles Club V.2, launched in 1998 and discontinued in 2002. Sub Pop_sentence_34

Some commentators have argued that Sub Pop reframed the history of Seattle's music scene as part of their marketing campaign. Sub Pop_sentence_35

Even in the late 1980s, the peak of grunge as a regional scene, Seattle's bands could not easily be contained by one genre often experimenting and blending multiple styles and techniques. Sub Pop_sentence_36

Different sounds were combined like folk rock, psychedelic rock, garage rock with pop hooks and acoustic harmonics. Sub Pop_sentence_37

The "Seattle sound" cultivated and marketed by Sub-Pop became known as grunge, while other Seattle bands like The U-Men, who preceded Sub-Pop, became pioneers of avant garde postpunk. Sub Pop_sentence_38

Mindful that garnering the attention of the American mainstream music press was difficult for all but the largest indie label, Pavitt and Ponemen took inspiration from alternative bands like Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, and Dinosaur Jr. and sought to publicize the label via the British music press. Sub Pop_sentence_39

In March 1989, Pavitt and Poneman flew Melody Maker journalist Everett True to Seattle to write an article on the local music scene. Sub Pop_sentence_40

As Pavitt had anticipated, the British press became enamoured with Sub Pop and the grunge sound. Sub Pop_sentence_41

Pavitt said, "I really felt that the Brits and the Europeans wanted to see something that was unruly and that was more of an American archetype -- something that was really primal and really drew from the roots of rock & roll, which was very American." Sub Pop_sentence_42

Poneman explained the label's success: "It could have happened anywhere, but there was a lucky set of coincidences. Sub Pop_sentence_43

Charles Peterson was here to document the scene, Jack Endino was here to record the scene. Sub Pop_sentence_44

Bruce and I were here to exploit the scene." Sub Pop_sentence_45

When Nirvana moved to Geffen Records, Sub Pop received royalties from sales of Bleach that kept the label going for years afterwards. Sub Pop_sentence_46

A stipulation was also implemented where selected future Nirvana studio LPs were required to carry the Sub Pop logo alongside Geffen's. Sub Pop_sentence_47

After the mainstream success of Nirvana, many successful grunge bands had left Sub Pop for major record labels. Sub Pop_sentence_48

Soon afterwards, a joint venture was formed with Warner Bros. Records (which had distributed Geffen since that label was founded in 1980; after 10 years under Warner, Geffen was sold to MCA Music Entertainment Group), thereby ending Sub Pop's status as an entirely independent label. Sub Pop_sentence_49

Post-Pavitt Sub Pop_section_3

Poneman and Pavitt had a disagreement about the direction the label should take, with Poneman wanting the label to become larger and make more money. Sub Pop_sentence_50

In 1996, unable to take the new corporate culture following the Warner partnership, Bruce Pavitt left the label and was able to spend more time with his family. Sub Pop_sentence_51

The split between Pavitt and Poneman was not amicable, and they did not speak for seven years. Sub Pop_sentence_52

The label opened offices worldwide and began major investment in new artists, but without achieving great commercial success, prompting a scaling down and a return to Seattle. Sub Pop_sentence_53

In 2006, Sub Pop Records became the first Green-e certified record label. Sub Pop_sentence_54

Through work with the Green-e program and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Sub Pop "greened" their label by purchasing enough renewable energy certificates to offset 100 percent of the electricity they use in their office, showing their commitment to putting renewable energy in the mainstream as a way consumers can take action to do something about global warming. Sub Pop_sentence_55

In early 2007, Sub Pop started a sister label by the name of Hardly Art. Sub Pop_sentence_56

This label is also partially owned by Warner Music. Sub Pop_sentence_57

In August 2008, Sub Pop relaunched the singles club for one year to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Sub Pop_sentence_58

In 2009, they signed their second hip-hop group - Seattle-based Shabazz Palaces, the first being The Evil Tambourines in 1999. Sub Pop_sentence_59

Ishmael Butler, one half of Shabazz Palaces and former member of jazz rap group Digable Planets became A&R for Sub Pop. Sub Pop_sentence_60

Commercial success Sub Pop_section_4

Domestically Sub Pop has released two albums that have been certified as platinum, for sales of over 1 million units, by the Recording Industry Association of America: Bleach by Nirvana and Give Up by The Postal Service. Sub Pop_sentence_61

Six albums released by the label have been certified gold for sales of 500,000 copies: Oh, Inverted World, Chutes Too Narrow and Wincing the Night Away, all by The Shins, Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes, The Head and the Heart by The Head and the Heart, and Everything All the Time by Band of Horses. Sub Pop_sentence_62

One single issued by the label has also been certified gold: "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service. Sub Pop_sentence_63

Deluxe editions Sub Pop_section_5

Starting in 2008, Sub Pop has released Deluxe Editions of its top-selling albums, which features the remastered album as well as some live tracks. Sub Pop_sentence_64

Some of the deluxe editions are known to contain some demos. Sub Pop_sentence_65

The albums with deluxe editions include Nirvana’s Bleach, Mudhoney's Superfuzz Bigmuff, Sebadoh's Bakesale, Jason Loewenstein's Codes, The Postal Service's Give Up, and Red Red Meat's Bunny Gets Paid. Sub Pop_sentence_66

Rejection letter Sub Pop_section_6

Sub Pop is famous for its blunt form letter to aspiring artists informing them that they would not be taken on by the label. Sub Pop_sentence_67

The letter opens with "Dear Loser". Sub Pop_sentence_68

See also Sub Pop_section_7

Sub Pop_unordered_list_0

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Pop.