Dancing Astronaut’s BIG 100—Top 25 Electronic Labels of the Decade
2010 may as well have been a lifetime ago. At the breakneck pace by which dance music throttles through the stratosphere, the decade is ending in an entirely unrecognizable place from where it began. For context—ten years ago, Electric Daisy Carnival was held in Los Angeles, not Las Vegas, where the Los Angeles Rams now play. Only 250,000 people were paying for a Swedish music streaming service called Spotify, and Billie Eilish was finishing up second grade. It’s been a wild ride through the 10’s, largely soundtracked by EDM’s global boom into a multi-billion dollar industry. Ten years ago our culture was creeping out of South London basements and New York warehouses, and now we’re performing at the Olympics.
So now, as the single most important, historic, and certainly memorable decade dance music has ever seen draws to a close, we had to figure out a new way to break down how far the culture has come. One master list couldn’t possibly reflect the decade in review. In effort to properly recognize the remarkable collection of events that has brought us here, we’re tweaking our typical end-of-the-year model. Instead, we’re dividing the decade’s most deserving into a handful of unique categories.
In review of 2010 – 2019, the most important factors that shaped the decade were Artists of the Decade, Labels of the Decade, Albums of the Decade, and Most Impactful Moments of the Decade. Together, they comprise Dancing Astronaut’s decade-end collection. Introducing, The Big 100.
25. Foreign Family Collective –
While ODESZA‘s Foreign Family Collective isn’t exactly a traditional record label, and likely the youngest inclusion on this list, the artist collective has proven to be one of the premier creative outlets for some of electronic music’s current brightest. The imprint has hosted releases from Jai Wolf, Louis Futon, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Robotaki, Kasbo, and more, coming together as an eclectic collection of sonic and visual media. ODESZA’s third full length LP, A Moment Apart officially landed on the duo’s own Foreign Family Collective in 2017, and would net them two Grammy nominations in 2018. The Collective also managed to move into event curation by the end of the decade with the highly in-demand ODESZA-curated SUNDARA festival that sprang up in the summer of 2019.
24. Brainfeeder –
Another twisted creative brainchild of LA’s Flying Lotus, Brainfeeder has commanded its own corner of the experimental sector for more than a decade now. Over the course of the last ten years, the imprint has hosted releases from the likes of Mr. Oizo, TOKiMONSTA, Thundercat, and Kamasi Washington, Lotus’ rap alter-ego Captain Murphy, and more. The label has dexterously cemented itself as the authority on the outer fringes of hip-hop and electronic music. Brainfeeder regulars would go on to host one of Southern California’s most beloved running parties, Low End Theory, which saw LA’s beat scene rise to prominence over the course of Wednesday nights from 2006 to its final club night in 2018.
23. Ninja Tune –
Ninja Tune has been a pillar in dance music for much longer than just this past decade. In fact, in 2020, the label will celebrate 30 years in business, spanning a myriad of releases and artists from all corners of the musical macrocosm. From 2010 – 2019, Ninja Tune put on the likes of Peggy Gou, Tycho, Bonobo, Bicep, Machinedrum, Helena Hauff, ODESZA, and more. Even Kelis and Diplo have featured on the legendary label’s network of brands. Ninja Tune also managed to ink a deal with the aforementioned Brainfeeder, bringing releases from Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and others under the Ninja Tune banner during the ’10s.
22. Sweat It Out!
The “Australian Invasion” has been a remarkable high point of the past decade, and the late DJ Ajax’s Sweat It Out! remains at the helm of this movement. There’s nary a superstar from the country that hasn’t gotten their start on the label; Yolanda Be Cool, RÜFÜS DU SOL with their career-making Bloom, Emoh Instead (What So Not), Crooked Colours, and Dancing Astronaut’s Breakout Artist of the Year Dom Dolla serve as just a few. Be it house, electro pop, or future bass, one thing that remains a constant in Sweat It Out! is its penchant for finding artists that will enamor audiences worldwide with their raw musicianship—and that’s why the label can always be trusted as a hub for next generation elite. DJ Ajax’s untimely passing will forever be a dark moment on electronic music’s timeline, but thankfully his legacy shines permanently in Sweat It Out!.
21. Future Sound Of Egypt –
Once a part of the Armada family, Future Sound Of Egypt (FSOE) separated into its own force to be reckoned with in trance. Since regaining its independence in 2016, it’s swiftly grown to rival other known institutions like Black Hole and Anjunabeats. The label is so highly regarded, in fact, that Aly & Fila were granted permission to perform at the Great Pyramids twice in celebration of episodes 400 and 500 of their label’s eponymous radio show, joining a small group of other acts that includes Sting, Kylie Minogue, and Jean-Michel Jarre. In a time of intense evolution for trance in multiple sonic directions, FSOE has stayed true to its roots, consistently offering followers top-grade records in uplifting, tech, and progressive.
20. Night Bass –
Looking back on decades of dance music, few labels have been as integral in the invention of their own genre as Night Bass. Even more impressive about AC Slater’s second imprint is that it accomplished this feat in a very short amount of time. Founded halfway through the decade in 2014, around the time Trouble & Bass closed shop, Night Bass set off on a mission. It has since curated a nationwide community around bass house; a burgeoning soundscape that harkens to the early days of UK garage and two-step but presented in a four-on-the-floor fashion. Slater’s done a commendable job of not only curating a solid catalog of releases, but fostering a tightly knit community of like-minded house heads. – Harry Levin
19. Crosstown Rebels
If there is one word to describe Damian Lazarus’ profile as an artist, it’s humble. While you may never see him topping bills of international festivals or lending his name to the hottest singles of the year, his ability to curate releases through his legendary imprint, Crosstown Rebels, is unmatched. Even as dance music entered the mainstream this decade, Lazarus was able to sift through the hype and find some of the best tunes in the underground from the likes of Skream, Gorgon City, Denney, Joeski, and a nearly interminable list of both established talents and rising stars in house and techno. – Harry Levin
Solomun has cultivated Diynamic into one of the most hyped in the house and techno world—and for good reason. One can’t deny its role in propelling melodic shades of the aforementioned to greatness, especially when the label was one of the first to push the sound when minimal reigned supreme. What began as some friends going against the grain for their dreams blossomed into a full-blown movement, and today, thousands of loyal fans filling out Diynamic’s showcases, stage takeovers, and residencies all over the globe prove the impact it’s had in the dance community at large. Its streak is primed to continue well into the 2020s, as the past year alone has seen Diynamic breed new superstars in ARTBAT whilst continuing to top charts with singles like Maceo Plex’s “Mutant Magic,” an EP from Boys Noize’s ELAX alias, and more.
17. Deadbeats –
Zeds Dead emerged just as the decade kicked off, and by the end of the early ’10s DC and Hooks had firmly established themselves as face-melting bass gods. They spent the first half of the decade developing their signature sound to contort around a variety of electric genres, successfully wading from dub into house, hip-hop, R&B, future bass, and more. By early 2016, Zeds Dead were ready to do more than just produce and release their own music, forming the aptly named Deadbeats—a label which reflects the very ethos of Zeds Dead’s refusal to be pinned down by one single genre. In just four years, Deadbeats has stacked a booming catalog of nearly 300 releases including work from newcomers and industry vets alike. Now, Deadbeats roster boasts the likes of Rusko, GRiZ, EPROM, DEVAULT, Delta Heavy, Wuki, Habstrakt, Ducky, and more.
Look to Deadbeats to continue to be an accurate barometer for what’s hot as a new decade unfolds. A decade in, and Zeds Dead has traversed the electronic world twice, expect them to keep up the pace in 2020.
Though it’s just shy of five years old, CONFESSION has already proven to be one of the most impactful imprints of the 2010s. Tchami does an impeccable job imbuing his spiritually minded ethos into the brand on the visual and audio fronts, matching the label’s church-themed parties to otherworldly future house records that garner high praise across the world. Many high pedigree artists have signed records onto CONFESSION, with the highly anticipated REZZ and Malaa collaboration, “Criminals,” having just been released in autumn. Of course, this swift success hardly comes as a surprise to those familiar with Tchami’s keen ear and resonant vision.
15. Boysnoize Records (BNR)
Boys Noize is one of dance music’s foremost forward-thinkers, and his namesake label is a manifestation of the cutting edge, rule-bending aesthetic he’s become known for. Over the past decade alone, Boysnoize Records (BNR) and its BNR TRAX subsidiary have not only been hubs for groundbreaking releases by the label boss himself—such as the critically acclaimed Out Of The Black and 2016’s Mayday—but they’ve also been instrumental in launching the careers of Jensen Interceptor, Peaches, Raito, and beyond. The label’s really grown into its own through the years, and looks to a continued tenure providing dance music’s future innovations to the masses.
14. Spinnin’ Records
Spinnin’s legacy stretches back to the turn of the millennium, but the past decade has really seen it becoming a major force in shaping modern dance music. It’s widely responsible for introducing the world to, and popularizing, big room house, with perhaps its biggest claim to fame being the discovery of Martin Garrix and kicking off his journey to superstardom with “Animals.” Millions of followers, billions of streams amassed, a multi-million dollar merger with Warner, and over 20 noteworthy, artist-led sub-labels later (think Heldeep and Dharma Worldwide), Spinnin’ has permanently cemented itself as a pillar of EDM and one of the genre’s greatest patrons.
13. Ultra Music
Before Spinnin’ asserted its dominance in the EDM world, Ultra was its kingpin. It entered the 2010s on top, with iconic singles like “Stereo Love” and Skrillex’ remix to Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” raking in countless plays across all platforms. This streak has continued all through the decade, with the label playing host to multiple platinum records which have included Deorro’s 2016 collaborations with Elvis Crespo, “Bailar,” and “Five More Hours” with Chris Brown, in addition to SNBRN’s “Gangsta Walk,” “Just Hold On” with Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson, and Klingade’s “Somewhere New.” Label darling Kygo even booked an Olympic performance.
One of the earliest entities to realize the power of YouTube as a music platform is UKF, which became one of the first viral channels to flourish as an indie record label. It’s hard to believe the brand was created a mere 10 years ago, given its establishment as a prime hub for all things bass from the get-go. In fact, it’s safe to say that many of electronic music’s younger generation discovered the likes of Zeds Dead, Nero, and even Knife Party during UKF’s earliest days. Outside its reputation as a leading curatorial hub, Luke Hood’s brainchild is also behind upwards of three billion streams on YouTube alone, a sold-out show at the Alexandria Palace in London, and multiple groundbreaking compilations that have served as barometers of bass culture over the years. It’s truly a label of the future.
Flume might have been future bass’ first pioneer, but it’s Canadian titan Monstercat that took experimental bass, in all forms, to formerly unfathomable heights. Its founders Mike Darlington and Ari Paunonen can easily be considered some of the music industry’s most industrious entrepreneurs, slowly building Monstercat’s stock over the years through adopting Twitch streaming early and making their label’s name known on a grander scale via festival stage takeovers. By 2014 it’d already sold over a million records, but 2016 is when Monstercat struck gold with Marshmello’s breakout single “Alone.” This goes to show that grassroots passion mixed with a bit of business savvy pays off in the long run, and as a result, there’s no foreseeable end to the label’s reign over the bass world.
10. Big Beat
While most of our picks for Label of the Decade are smaller distributors, we’d be remiss if we left out the behemoth Big Beat from our rankings. A longtime stalwart in house, hip-hop, and now more modern strains of electronica, the Atlantic-housed imprint relaunched in 2010 with Skrillex’s Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites—effectively locking it back into the upper echelon of dance music during its second commercial boom. Skrillex’s breakout EP, and even his widely frenzied Jack Ü project with Diplo are merely drops in Big Beat’s bucket, with the label also giving rise to the likes of Galantis, Ekali, Icona Pop, and many more in the years following its relaunch. While trends come and go with increasing speeds, Big Beat always manages to stay ahead of the game, and this attribute is precisely what will keep it thriving for many decades to come.
09. Fool’s Gold Records
With A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs at the helm, there is no way Fool’s Gold would ever or could ever fold into being just another dance music label, and, of course, it didn’t. Few imprints across this decade carved a distinct niche that combined electronic and rap while supporting an art form which has become criminally under-valued in today’s music scene: real DJing. Now, Fool’s Gold’s roster boasts releases from Kid Cudi, Anna Lunoe, Run The Jewels, Brenmar, Oliver, YehMe2, Sleepy Tom, and so many more. Beyond bringing new technically skilled DJs into the fold like KITTENS, Fool’s Gold is a primary sponsor of A-Trak’s Goldie Awards, an annual DJ competition and beat-battle judged by some of the best in the business including Diplo, Craze, and A-Trak himself. Furthermore, FGR has even dipped into fashion, events production, and more during the 2010s. – Harry Levin
08. Armada Music
Armada’s journey runs parallel to its founder Armin van Buuren’s rise to the top of the crossover world. It’d already become a top trance label by the aughts, but has silently exploded into one of the biggest imprints in electronic whose power rivals that of Ultra and Spinnin’. From 2011-2015, it took home the IDMA for “Best Global Dance Music Label,” additionally expanding its robust sub-label army to during this time while propping up van Buuren’s entrance into the pop world through his LPs Intense and Embrace. Today, its repertoire spans records from Detroit legend Kevin Saunderson to Dutch house master Afrojack, showcasing a label built to last and prosper through EDM’s cyclical history.
07. Future Classic –
The “Australian Invasion” of the last decade was one of the most enjoyable subplots in all of dance music. The talent that emanated from down under over the last ten years went on to be some of the most dominate forces in electronic music, positioning Future Classic as an incubator for Aussie hitmakers. Future Classic wasn’t new to the decade, though the label/management company’s story really took off in 2012 with the debut release from Harley Streten, better known as Flume. The rest, as they say, is history. Releases from Anna Lunoe, Touch Sensitive, Chrome Sparks, Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker), Classixx, Flight Facilities, Wave Racer, and others would follow, placing Future Classic among some of the greatest labels of the decade.
06. Ed Banger Records
Pedro Winter’s Ed Banger family built its reputation in the previous decade under the stewardship of Cassius and Justice, and those are the only two names that actually need to be mentioned even though there are plenty of others that could be. However, between 2010 and 2019, Busy P proved that he knew how to keep his record label relevant in the face of changing market with tasty treats from Breakbot, Mr, Oizo, Riton, and Boston Bun. Still, Ed Banger managed to bring home hardware over the course of the decade with Justice’s Grammy-winning Woman Worldwide. Ed Banger Records, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2018, was never a pure house or even a pure electro imprint, and by leaning into that spirit of exploration, they were able to continue to sign forward-thinking artists that forward-thinking dance fans were eager to discover. – Harry Levin
05. Mad Decent
It was in this decade that Diplo established himself as both the premier pop producer of our day as well as a paragon of superstar DJ culture—and his label, Mad Decent, was there every step of the way. Diplo entered the EDM explosion with a resumé and Rolodex matched by few and immediately established Mad Decent as an open-format trendsetter. Even before he entered his current house kick with his new imprint Higher Ground, Diplo landed modern four-on-the-floor classics like “Bugatti” and “Feel The Volume,” essentially launching JAUZ’s career. He put on early Dillon Francis and Baauer, with Valentino Khan, Party Favor, and so many more in between. Let us not forget one of the biggest hits in history, the light-hearted jam, “Lean On” which, on top of breaking numerous records, imbued practically every pop song to follow for the next two years with its bouncing dancehall beat. – Harry Levin
Skrillex is such a staple when discussing electronic music that it’s almost hard to believe that Sonny Moore started working under that name just this decade. Even harder to believe he only started OWSLA this decade, too. Though, at the end of the decade, looking back its clear OWSLA had a finger on the pulse of electronic music culture right from the jump.
This label turned lifestyle brand was launched with the breakout EP from an exciting 19-year-old named Porter Robinson entitled Spitfire. From there on the tone of the label was set to continue breaking boundaries and building new artists. Makes sense, considering the second release from a little known artist who goes by the name of ZEDD. From there, OWSLA went on to push records from every corner of electronic music, from Yogi, Alvin Risk, KOAN Sound, What So Not, Alex Metric, Getter, Vindata, Mija, Ekali, Kill The Noise, and more. – Harry Levin
03. Anjunabeats / Anjunadeep
Anjunabeats is a musical movement in itself. The trance label and its deeper, progressive-leaning counterpart Anjunadeep have carved a distinct sonic niche in their respective genre realms, with the latter being a prime motivator in the rise of melodic house as a dominating sect in electronica. Meanwhile, Anjunabeats remains a titan with impeccable curation in its founders Above & Beyond; Seven Lions was discovered and nurtured to the star he is today thanks to the imprint, as have other key players today like Lane 8, Ilan Bluestone, and Andrew Bayer. Not to mention, its fan base remains one of the most dedicated we’ve seen today.
deadmau5 has always commanded a large portion the electronic zeitgeist’s collective attention, and regardless of whatever anyone may think of him, he’s always diverted a large portion of that attention to his record label mau5trap. Looking back on this decade, it’s almost uncanny how many impressive artists came into their own mau5trap. Matt Lange, Eekkoo, ATTLAS, i_o, Rinzen, just to name a few. Many listeners might also be surprised to learn that mau5trap also hosted seminal releases from artists like Skrillex, Excision, Noisia, and Moguai. – Harry Levin
In the span of 2010 to 2019, no other label has done a better job of introducing house music to a wider audience than DIRTYBIRD. With a foundational crew of artists maintaining the brand’s core values through both its sound and jovial conduct, Claude VonStroke’s humble, homemade record imprint has amassed a consistent, reliable force of dancers around the globe. Not only have they curated some of the decade’s biggest hits like “Stop It” by Fisher and “OKAY” by Shiba San, but they continuously groom up-and-coming artists and set new weird and wacky trends as well. The label has successfully moved into events curation over the last decade, inspired by its humble beginnings, hosting beat-laden barbecues in the park. Now, with fledging Campout and BBQ events all over the country, a roster of top-notch artists that proctor some of the best house in the game, DIRTYBIRD Records is a shoe-in for our Top Label of the Decade. – Harry Levin