A Milestone For A Remarkable Label: Merge Turns 20 : All Songs Considered This year, Merge Records, home to artists such as M. Ward, Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon, The Magnetic Fields, and many more, celebrates its 20th anniversary. Mac McCaughn and Laura Ballance started the label in 1989, in Chapel Hill, NC. In the beginning they sold homemade cassette tapes from local record stores. If they made 50 sales, they were ecstatic. But today, Merge Records is one of the most revered labels in the business, with a large roster of remarkable talent.

A Milestone For A Remarkable Label: Merge Turns 20

A Milestone For A Remarkable Label: Merge Turns 20

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106561165/106561556" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
collage 300

This year, Merge Records, home to artists such as M. Ward, Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon, The Magnetic Fields, and many more, celebrates its 20th anniversary. Mac McCaughn and Laura Ballance started the label in 1989, in Chapel Hill, NC. In the beginning they sold homemade cassette tapes from local record stores. If they made 50 sales, they were ecstatic. But today, Merge Records is one of the most revered labels in the business, with a large roster of remarkable talent. On this edition of All Songs Considered, host Bob Boilen talks with McCaughn and Ballance about the history of Merge Records, and how the label has thrived at a time when so many other labels are struggling.

Download this show in the All Songs Considered podcast.

Sign up for the All Songs Considered newsletter and we'll tell you when new music features are available on the site.

Register with the NPR.org community to join in our discussions.

Contact us with your questions and comments.

A Milestone For A Remarkable Label: Merge Turns 20

Cover for Funeral

Wake Up

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106561165/106560374" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Arcade Fire

  • Song: Wake Up
  • from Funeral
cover for bricks

History of Lies

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106561165/106560376" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Bricks

  • Song: History of Lies
  • from Microphone & a Box of Dirt
cover for superchunk

Cool

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106561165/106560813" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Superchunk

  • Song: Cool
  • from Tossing Seeds (Singles 89-91)
cover for angels of epistemology

The Charmed

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106561165/106562547" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Angels of Epistemology

  • Song: The Charmed
  • from Fruit
Cover for In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Ghost

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106561165/106560965" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Neutral Milk Hotel

  • Song: Ghost
  • from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
cover for magnetic fields

Come Back from San Francisco

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106561165/106560939" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Magnetic Fields

  • Song: Come Back from San Francisco
  • from 69 Love Songs
  • by The Magnetic Fields
cover for quasi

Beautiful Things

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/106561165/106561040" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Various Artists

  • Song: Beautiful Things
  • from Score! 20 Years of Merge Records

Related NPR Stories