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Dischord Records is a Washington, D.C.-based independent record label specializing in punk rock. The label is co-owned by Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, who founded Dischord in 1980 to release Minor Disturbance by The Teen Idles.[1][2][3] With other independent American labels such as Twin/Tone, Touch and Go Records, and SST Records, Dischord helped to spearhead the nationwide network of underground bands that formed the 1980s indie-rock scene.[4] These labels presided over the shift from the hardcore punk that then dominated the American underground scene to the more diverse styles of alternative rock that were emerging.[5]

Dischord Records
DIS logo m.png
Founded1980 (1980)
FounderIan MacKaye
Jeff Nelson
GenrePunk rock, post-hardcore, indie rock, emo, rock
Country of originUnited States
LocationWashington, D.C.

The label is most notable for employing the do-it-yourself ethic, producing all of its albums and selling them at discount prices without finance from major distributors.[6] Dischord continues to release records by bands from Washington D.C., and to document and support the Washington D.C. music scene.[7] As of October 2016, the label employs four people.[8]

Dischord was a local label in the early days of hardcore, and is one of the more famous independent labels, along with the likes of Alternative Tentacles, Epitaph Records, SST Records, and Touch & Go Records.[6]

The logo of the label was created by Nelson, who has an associate degree in advertising design.[9]


Influenced by existing labels like Dangerhouse Records[10] MacKaye and Nelson took up residence in the now known "Dischord House" and ran the label out of its premises.[10]

Dischord's first release was Minor Disturbance by Teen Idles[11] released in 1980.[12]The band members cut, folded, and glued the record packaging themselves to keep costs down.[11] The label's first split 12" was Faith / Void Split by the bands The Faith and Void.[12]

Dischord limits itself to bands from the D.C. scene. The label offers the same basic deal to all artists: Dischord fronts a certain amount of money to record and manufacture[13] and once those costs are recouped, the label's distributor takes 30 percent of the profit[14] band and the label split the remainder of the profits.[13][14]

"We don't use contracts, lawyers, any of those kinds of things," MacKaye says. "We are partners -- they make the music, and we make the records."[11]

Jeff Nelson has claimed the venture was never intended to be profit-making but was instead simply a way to get their friends albums in fans hands.[14]

In 2017, they put their catalog on Bandcamp for free streaming or purchase.[15]


Bands such as Minor Threat,[16] Government Issue,[17] The Faith,[18] Void,[19] Iron Cross,[17] Embrace,[20] Rites of Spring,[20] Nation of Ulysses,[20] Scream,[21] Soulside, S.O.A., the Teen Idles, Gray Matter, Jawbox,[20] Marginal Man,[20] Shudder to Think,[20] Dag Nasty,[20] Lungfish and Fugazi[6] have released records on Dischord.

Additions to the Dischord roster as of the late 1990s and 2000s include Q and Not U,[6] Beauty Pill, Antelope, French Toast, Faraquet, Black Eyes, The Aquarium, Title Tracks, Edie Sedgwick, Slant 6, and Andalusians. Many of these acts, notably Q and Not U and Black Eyes, are both influential and experimental post-hardcore bands.


Dischord Records influenced many other labels such as Simple Machines[13] and DeSoto Records.[13]


  1. ^ Azerrad 2001, p. 132.
  2. ^ Blush 2001, p. 138.
  3. ^ Heller, Jason (November 18, 2014). "Primer: Where to Start with the Righteous Noise of Dischord Records". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  4. ^ Dolan, Jon (January 2005). "The Revival of Indie Rock". Spin 21 (1): 53.
  5. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-1012-0105-3.
  6. ^ a b c d Cogan 2008, p. 82.
  7. ^ Cogan 2008, p. 83.
  8. ^ Creative Time (25 October 2016). "Creative Time Summit DC - Do It Yourself - Keynote: Ian MacKaye". Retrieved 9 April 2018 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Beaujon, Andrew (May 2003). "Out of Step with the World". Spin 19 (5): 86.
  10. ^ a b Stafford, James (March 18, 2015). "The Roots of Indie: Dischord Records". Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  11. ^ a b c Johnson, Christopher (August 24, 2005). "A New Generation of Punk at Dischord Records". NPR. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Finn, Craig (October 27, 2011). "The Faith and Void: the glorious Dischord of 1980s harDCore punk". The Guardian. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d "Dischord Records: Out of Step with the World". Spin. June 13, 2003. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c Segal, David (July 3, 1995). "The Dischord Label: The Perfect Pitch of Principles". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  15. ^ Jones, Josh (August 3, 2017). "DC's Legendary Punk Label Dischord Records Makes Its Entire Music Catalog Free to Stream Online". Open Culture. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  16. ^ Blush 2001, p. 142.
  17. ^ a b Blush 2001, p. 147.
  18. ^ Blush 2001, p. 146.
  19. ^ Blush 2001, p. 150.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g Blush 2001, p. 157.
  21. ^ Blush 2001, p. 148.

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