The internet and music has fused into a healthy, ever-growing, entity backed by innovation and surprising results. In the Vaporwave scene, its music lives on the internet, and behind every great album is a label helping form its sub-genres. Fortunately, the scene is very supportive of its labels thanks to its disconnect from the traditional music industry. These labels are run by normal folks simply passionate about the scene and because of that, I want to recognize the biggest players in shaping the genre we know today.
This list contains the 10 most noteworthy contemporary Vaporwave netlabels and some of their best albums:
Pacific Plaza Records has been around since early 2018 and is well known for its multitude of physical releases. They brought back mini-cd albums, constantly release new cassettes, and for a while, one of the only places on Bandcamp selling Private Suite Magazines. They have so much stock available that it might be the only label on this list that doesn’t have 90% of its releases sold out. They are also constantly hosting full album streams and sponsoring online concerts, making them one of the more active labels on the net.
I had a chance to meet the owner at ECON1 and they gave me a bunch of stickers and pins. I loved that. Great label, great people.
V I R T U A 94 is another late 2010s Vapor label, established in 2017. They don’t seem to be open to submissions at the moment but if you look through the list, you’ll notice video game-themed covers, as well as other vaporwave tropes. They are also another label passionate about hosting irl concerts — they have one coming up in February.
They released a cassette for ILEX VISIONS by Toadofsky, johh_not_hrk, that is to die for. The cassette with Pokemon Celebi is one of my most sought after releases on this label. Can we please get a 3rd edition 🤞🙏
Opened in 2018, this vaporwave label is going through a “phase 2” as they are calling it. They are attempting to recover from years of shipment and fulfilling problems, which unfortunately has tainted their image in the scene. Recently on Bandcamp, they’ve explained they are working towards fulfilling all “unfulfilled orders and return to public sphere.”
I debated putting them on the list but they have so many important digital releases that I hope they come back stronger than ever.
Unfortunately, due to damage control, they’ve deleted all backlog releases from their Bandcamp and now seem to be a digital only label. According to Discogs, they’ve released over 105 albums, cassettes, vinyl and miniDiscs. It’s good someone was documenting it all.
No Vaporwave label depicts the term Netlabel better than business casual (BC). They’ve been releasing physicals weekly for years non-stop since 2013. They’ve released for artists such as マクロスMACROSS 82-99, bl00dwave, Windows 96, FM Skyline, Dan Mason and others. Who knows what albums will release next that in a few years will be a marking point of a new innovation in the scene.
Ethan, from First Class Collective, and I did a historical deep dive on them a few years back if you’re looking for some more history about BC.
Fun fact: I only own BC compilations, I’ve never bought an artist cassette from the label.
Established in 2017, Gulf Audio Company or GAC® is one of the more down-to-earth labels on this list. They don’t feel like they try too hard to attract attention but they let the music speak for itself. Their collection of sold-out vinyl and cassettes is impressive as well.
For a while it felt like they were the only one releasing unknown artists on vinyl. I’ve always felt like they were always working for the artists, not the profit. Plus, they sometimes sell Meatsnacks in nicklebags you’re not supposed to eat — but come on, you know you’ll do it anyways.
NO PROBLEMA has been around since 2013, introducing vapor artists such as t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者, 猫 シ Corp., P A T H S パス, and Sangam to name a few. The fact we have a music label still functioning almost 10 years later is incredible. If you compare releases on Business Casual to No Problema, you’ll really grasp how unique and diverse vaporwave and its sub-genres are.
Recently, they’ve evolved into this large font heavy cassette designs that are so pleasing to the eye. Some times I buy a cassettes before even listening to the music, but I know if I wait a half a second, the album will sell out. I’ve never been disappointed by the mystery music, thankfully.
PS: DEATH by II nøthing II is a fantastic album. Every time I listen to it, it impresses me with how complex yet so easy it is to listen to. It was also the first No Problema Tapes cassette I ever bought.
I think every physical issue of Visual Signals (since we started printing in color) has featured a No Problema cassette. We’ve never been sponsored or anything, I just love their design so much.
猫 シ Corp.’s very own Vaporwave label. They haven’t released too many albums, but since their inception in 2019, they’ve established themselves as the peak of high quality projects. Every project seems to get a Cassette, Vinyl, CD, and MiniDisc, making the label a collectors wet-dream.
Sadly, I’ve only really enjoyed a small amount of their albums. The aesthetic doesn’t grab me for some reason, but I know people go crazy over every release. I just wish the label would release something special for the 猫 シ Corp alias.
Tiger Blood Tapes is a massive label in the scene and if you’re new to cassette or vinyl collecting, they have so many releases that every Vaporwave fan needs. Also;
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Side note: They released 魂コントローラ by Soul コントローラ Enterprises™ on vinyl and cassette — which is one of my favorite Vaporwave albums of all time.
If Gulf Audio is the most DYI feeling of the labels, My Pet Flamingo is the most corporate. They run their label like a well-oiled machine and to get your music on it is high praise. You’ll notice a lot of the OG artists are on this label, such as Saint Pepsi and Lux Elite, so if you like the music of their caliber, you’ll love what other artists you’ll find inside.
I had the chance to meet these guys in two occasions, once in London for Groove Horizons and then again at ECON1. They gave me a free shirt in London and both concerts I wore it not knowing they’d see me wearing it. It was like my favorite shirt for a year straight, unfortunately the dryer shrunk it. Gotta love that MPF merch.
Side note: They are also the team behind the future Vaporwave documentary, NOBODY HERE.
This label is deader than disco, but damn did their short-lived life make a massive impact. Some might say BLUDHONEY was the grandfather of dreampunk, but I say it’s still a leader. Even though other labels have filled in their place, no one beats their physical releases — in packaging quality or musical talent.
I always had this feeling that if I stared at one of their physical releases too long my eyes would start to bleed. The vibrant colors contrast with the dark backgrounds so surreally. As if their logo was a sign of what was to come.
Side note: I did a pretty big write up in Visual Signals: ISSUE 4 (our dreampunk issue)on BLUDHONEY RECORDS, so if that interests you, you’ll need to grab a physical print… or read the PDF version, lol.
Did we forget a label you think should be on the list or just have a comment? Come hang out with us on Discord.