Music Industry
7:00 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Sub Pop Records: Going Out Of Business Since 1988!

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Sub Pop Records may have started small but the label has always made a big impression. Sup Pop, which began as a fanzine and evolved into a record label in the late 1980s, is considered the epicenter of the grunge movement. Megan Jasper, vice president at Sub Pop, gives Ross Reynolds a tour of the office.

The Birthplace Of Grunge

On the walls of Sub Pop's office entry hangs a framed invoice for original pressing (on white vinyl, of course) of Nirvana's "Bleach." Right above that invoice are framed bounced checks from the same time. It's a good reminder of where they've come from and luckily not a caution for current artists.

At the end of 1989, Seattle's music scene started to explode. Megan Jasper says being in the middle of the grunge movement felt absolutely surreal; they didn't have perspective. "We just knew that people had given this thing a name and that it was affecting people's lives in some interesting ways, in some great ways, and in some sad ways."

Sad because Seattle was such an intimate community of people as far as the music scene went.

"When so much attention is given to a scene, it opens it up and it allows for people to want to move there and or to visit," Jasper says. "It took away from that 'pure thing' that felt really special - whatever that thing was felt diluted in the process. They lost that feeling of knowing everyone who was at a show -- that their friend's band was playing."

Looking at the past year, though, some things are still the same. Jasper feels Seattle's music scene still has a sense of intimacy. "This is a city, but it's a small enough community that we know each other very, very well. A lot of us can do interesting things because of that. An example of that might be the Music for Marriage Equality campaign." When Seattle hip-hop group, Macklemore, came out with the song, "Same Love," to support Washington's same-sex marriage referendum, Sup Pop released the single and donated their earnings to the campaign as well. That song became the anthem of Approve Referendum 74 campaign, which passed in the fall election.

Web Extra: Megan Jasper's Audio Tour Of Sub Pop Records

Related Story: "Meet The Punk Who Saved Sub Pop," by Seattle Times reporter Paul de Barros. 

This program originally aired November 29, 2012, on The Conversation.

This series, "13 for '13" is in partnership with the Seattle Times and profiles 13 members of the Seattle-area’s diverse cultural community; people who have had an impact and are poised to shape the cultural landscape in the decade to come.

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