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.