Jagjaguwar was started in Charlottsville, VA by Darius van Arman. In 1996, The Curious Digit had just finished recording their album Bombay Aloo, and turned to van Arman for help releasing it. The band had worked with van Arman previously, releasing a 7-inch on Sentimental Records, which he co-ran at the time. Feeling that the album would fare better if it was released on a label, he decided create one. Thus, with some input from a Dungeons and Dragons character name generator, Jagjaguwar was born. Soon after, van Arman would add a second act to his stable. He approached a band called Drunk after a show at Tokyo Rose in Richmond. Drunk had just finished recording an album, and agreed to release it on Jagjaguwar.
Meanwhile in Indiana, van Arman’s friend Chris Swanson was busy running his label, Secretly Canadian. The two frequently talked about doing various projects together, and in 1999, Swanson and van Arman decided to enter into a partnership. Jagjaguwar relocated to Bloomington, and the two labels began to share office space, as well as staff members. Swanson had also been running SC Distributors which began to provide services for Jagjaguwar. SC Distributors gave van Arman more time focus on other aspects of his business. For the same reason, Bellweather Manufacturing was created. These companies also allowed Jagjaguwar to more easily release whatever music it wanted.
A third label, Dead Oceans, grew out of friendships formed between the small family of companies. Though the three share many resources, they are all separately operated, and have their own goals and direction. However, the common bond at work is the dedication to develop a diverse roster of artists, with a focus on the music rather than the genre.
Here’s a look at whats going on at Jagjaguwar during its 15th year of operation:
SC Distributors made Bon Iver’s self-titled release available in several different bundles ranging from $12 to $40. Extras included posters, T shirts, and even a couple extra singles and b-sides. Fans could choose to receive the album on either CD or LP. Pre-ordering a bundle got fans a free download of “Calgary.”
Parts & Labor’s new album, Constant Future, is available to stream for free and in it’s entirety on their website.
Listeners preview songs by clicking around in a colorful sea of hands which bloom into hand trees that bear delicious music fruit.
Here is the title track from the new album:
Okkervill River has just released their new album I Am Very Far.
A visit to their website allows fans to exchange their email address for a free MP3 from the new release.
Jagjaguwar continues to thrive in a time when many labels and music oriented companies are struggling. Their ability to keep up with changing times is at least partly due to their willingness to adapt and the artist friendly approach they take to the music business. Their story also highlights the importance of developing real friendships, as opposed to solely seeking business partners.