Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls formed this not-for-profit independent record label in 1990 in order to release a record of one of her favorite bands, Ellen James Society. It is run by artists (every person or band signed with the label is required to put in labor hours), and committed to diversity and activism.
When Amy started the label, the Indigo Girls had just been signed with Epic, a major record label. She had a lot of friends who were struggling musicians and who had inspired and influenced her, but who didn't seem to be getting the recognition they deserved. So she decided that she wanted to give back to the underground that had been so supportive, and formed the label in the middle of her tour with the Indigo Girls, running business from hotel rooms in between shows. She said, "I decided to stop complaining about the evils of the music business and do my part to support the arts. The next thing I knew, I was up to my ears in work, fulfilling all the basic functions of my own indie label."
From the beginning, Amy's biggest priority with Daemon was to diversity. She has resisted becoming a niche-driven label, signing bands with a wide variety of styles: folk, punk, rock, hip-hop, jazz, techno, and even pop. All the artists have their own sound, which they control themselves. It's Daemon's policy that every artist learn about self-promotion and put in hours to help themselves. On her web page, Amy says, "My goal for Daemon Records is to present all kinds of music for all ages, from punks to folkies. The common thread of all Daemon recording artists is their attention to the craft of songwriting, independent of musical genre or style."
Daemon Records is also fiercely committed to political activism, and has many pet projects, like their version of Jesus Christ Superstar which gives money to prevention of gun violence, and the Honor the Earth campaign, which attemps to "provide funding and public support for Native environmental initiatives." They also bank at a credit union and try to support other independent labels as well as independent record stores.
Some of the artists on Daemon include: Michelle Malone (who most recently releasing records on her own independent label, Strange Bird Songs), Ellen James Society, Mrs. Fun, Rock*A*Teens, Gerard McHugh, Viva la Diva, Band de Soleil, and many, many others.
After reading numerous interviews with Amy Ray about her label, and having listened to some of the kick-ass music it released, my only question is: why are there not more places in the world like Daemon Records?
The quotes all come from www.daemonrecords.com, which is also where you can purchase any of its music.