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Rough Trade Records is an independent record label based in London. It was formed in 1978 by Geoff Travis who had opened a record store off Ladbroke Grove. Having successfully promoted and sold records by punk and early post punk bands such as Buzzcocks and Desperate Bicycles, Travis began to manage acts and distribute bands such as Scritti Politti and began the label, which was informed by left-wing politics and structured as a co-operative. Soon after, Rough Trade also set up a distribution arm that serviced independent retail outlets across Britain, a network that became known as the Cartel.
Interest and investment of major labels in the UK indie scene in the late 1980s, as well as overtrading on behalf of Rough Trade's distribution wing, led to cash flow problems, and eventually to bankruptcy, forcing the label into receivership. However, Travis resurrected the label in the late 90s, finding success with The Libertines, The Strokes and Antony and the Johnsons.
Rough Trade began as a record shop, opened by Geoff Travis on Kensington Park Road, West London, in February 1976. It was inspired by what Travis has described as the "community-based environment" of the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, and specialised in garage rock and reggae. Steve Montgomery, initially a customer of the shop, was offered a job soon after it opened and became its effective co-manager. Travis and Montgomery were joined by a further employee, Richard Scott, in June 1977.[1][2]
Rough Trade produced its own record for the first time after French punk band Métal Urbain came into the shop asking for assistance in publicising their music.[2] In 1978, the shop began organising a record distribution network, dubbed "The Cartel", in collaboration with other independent record stores in the UK. This network enabled small record labels such as Factory Records and 2 Tone Records to sell their releases nationally. It specialised primarily in European post-punk and other alternative rock of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It also dristributed a range of British fanzines such as No Cure.
The Rough Trade label subsequently issued a single by Jamaican reggae singer Augustus Pablo, the debut single by Sheffield band Cabaret Voltaire and the second Stiff Little Fingers single, "Alternative Ulster". During 1978, the label released singles by The Monochrome Set, Subway Sect, Swell Maps, Electric Eels, Spizzoil and Kleenex.[3] In 1979, Rough Trade's first album, Inflammable Material by Stiff Little Fingers, reached number 14 in the UK charts and became the first independently released album to sell over 100,000 copies in the UK.[4] Rough Trade's significance by this time was such that it was made the subject of a South Bank Show documentary.[5]
In 1982, the retail outlets broke with the A&R and distribution divisions, after a decision to allow the shop staff buy out.[6] The distribution wing found itself overtrading by 1991 and shortages of cash flow lead to a filing for bankruptcy. The entire company ended up in receivership.
Rough Trade Records was relaunched in 2000 as an independently owned entity, a partnership between Travis, Jeanette Lee (a former member of Public Image Ltd.), and minority partners Sanctuary Records, as a part of the Zomba Group until June 11, 2002 when BMG bought out this business. In July 2007 Sanctuary Records then sold Rough Trade to the Beggars Group making Rough Trade independent once again [7]
Since its re-birth, Rough Trade has released albums by artists such as The Strokes, The Libertines, Babyshambles, and Belle & Sebastian.

Latest revision as of 16:29, 16 May 2021

Discogs Information



Multinational label. Label Code: LC 5661 / LC 05661. [Label Code LC 11945 belongs to label Rough Trade Records UK Ltd. - not in Discogs]

Rough Trade was started by Geoff Travis in 1976 as a London record-shop and began releasing as an independent label in 1978. They quickly grew as a label and an independent distributor during the 1980s, collaborating with labels such as 4AD, Factory Records and One Little Indian to name a few. Note: please use Rough Trade (3) for 'Exclusive Retailer' credits on editions pressed for Rough Trade Shops and

• Catalog numbering used by the first incarnation of the label:

Singles/EPs were numbered sequentially (001–247) with following prefixes: RT###: 7" singles, early 12" singles and some 10" singles RTT###: later 12" singles and some 10" singles RTT###CD: CD singles RTM###: 12" EPs/mini-albums There were also five early 7" singles numbered RTSO1 through RTSO5. These are all by the group Spizz Oil and related projects.

Albums: ROUGH###: numbered sequentially (1–159), with extensions such as CD, MC, etc. for different formats RUFCD####: used only for four CD releases in 1989, numbered sequentially (6001-6004) COPY###: used for some early cassette releases issued under the label name Rough Tapes, numbered sequentially (001–???)

After overstretching on the US market the label/distribution group ran into financial difficulty around 1990. The US branch was shut down and the German branch ended up in the Zomba Music Group where the name was eventually abandoned. In the UK One Little Indian provided financing and took over the label with original owner Geoff Travis initially in charge, but he soon left to start the Trade 2 label with Island Records. A result of this arrangement One Little Indian has retained ownership of some key catalogue releases, such as the early A.R. Kane albums. Dave Boyd was the label manager

• Catalog numbering used by the second incarnation of the label:

R###x: numbered sequentially (starting around 250) with x indicating format (0 = 12", 1 = LP, 2 = CD, 3 = CD Single, 4 = Cassette, 5 = mini-album, 6 = CD mini-album, 7 = 7" single, 8 = double LP) 45REV##: singles club 7" series, numbered sequentially (01-??)

Finally, Geoff Travis regained control of the Rough Trade label name around 1999–2000 and re-launched the label alongside Tugboat Records.

• Catalog numbering being used by the third incarnation of the label:

RTRADES###: 7" singles, 12" singles & vinyl EPs RTRADESCD###[X]: CD singles & CDEPs - 'X' is appended when two versions of the single are released RTRADESDVD###: DVD singles RTRADELP###: vinyl LP albums RTRADECD###: CD albums

On some releases, the E in RTRADE is missing, leaving RTRAD as the prefix.

In July 2001, Sanctuary Records joined forces with Rough Trade, including its imprint Tugboat. The relationship with Sanctuary was intended to support Rough Trade's growth plans by enabling the label to utilise the well-established Sanctuary infrastructure with a particular emphasis on the international sector.

In July 2007, a struggling Sanctuary announced, as part of its preamble to being bought by Universal, the sale of its 49% interest in the loss-making Rough Trade for a cash sum of £800,000 to the Beggars Group. Rough Trade continues to operate from its Golborne Road offices in London, with Beggars assuming central office functions. The Rough Trade specialist retail chain did not figure in the deal.

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