Matador Records is an independent record label, with a roster of mainly indie rock, but also punk rock, experimental rock, alternative rock, electronic and other artists.
Matador was created in 1989 by Chris Lombardi in his New York City apartment. Lombardi brought the Austrian duo H.P. Zinker into Wharton Tiers’ Fun City studio to record Matador's first release, "...and there was light". Lombardi continued to add artists to the label's roster, with bands like the Dustdevils, Railroad Jerk and Superchunk, before being joined by former Homestead Records manager Gerard Cosloy in 1990. The two of them have run it together since. Matador experienced its first taste of crazed media attention & big sales with the North American release of Teenage Fanclub’s debut record, A Catholic Education in 1990. In 1992 Matador released Pavement's debut studio album Slanted and Enchanted. In 1993, not only did Matador release Liz Phair's critically and commercially successful debut album, Exile in Guyville, but the label also began a partnership with Atlantic Records which lasted for several years. In 1996, Capitol Records purchased a 49 percent stake in Matador, which Lombardi and Cosloy bought back in 1999. Beggars Group purchased 50% of Matador in 2002 and took over the label's worldwide marketing.
Over the years, the label has moved from shoebox sized offices to larger and larger complexes, and now operates in both London and New York. Matador Europe supervises the promotion, sales and marketing of Matador titles in Europe. The London based office also licensed recordings from some of North America’s most acclaimed new artists, M. Ward, Sleater-Kinney, Modest Mouse, and Superchunk to name a few. The roster has also grown with the label and has helped artists such as Yo La Tengo, Cat Power, Cornelius, Solex, Pizzicato Five, Helium and the Arsonists reach audiences worldwide.
In 1994 Patrick Amory became Matador's label manager, and has since progressed to label President, as well as a partner of Lombardi and Cosloy.
In the early 2000s, Matador had to sidestep unwanted involvement in the current Recording Industry Association of America dispute over Peer-to-peer file sharing networks. Matador's Patrick Amory contacted the RIAA multiple times in order to ensure that an erroneous listing on the group's website of Matador as an RIAA member was removed. After several attempts, the name of the independent label was removed from the membership list.
Matador acquired True Panther Sounds as an imprint in 2009. Cosloy, speaking through the Matador blog, stated that True Panther Sounds "will continue to be managed by label founder Dean Bein." And that the reason Matador acquired True Panther Sounds was simply, "As Victor Kiam once explained his decision to purchase the Remington Shaver operation, “I liked it so much, I bought the company.” The first joint venture by the two labels was Girls’ debut critically acclaimed release ‘Album’ and was "worked through Matador’s fearsome promotional & marketing machinery"
In October 2010, Matador celebrated the label's 21st anniversary with a series of concerts at the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Pavement, Yo La Tengo, the New Pornographers, Spoon, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Guided By Voices, Kurt Vile, Cold Cave, Fucked Up, Liz Phair, Shearwater, Superchunk, Come, Times New Viking, Belle & Sebastian, Cat Power, Chavez, Perfume Genius, Harlem, and Guitar Wolf were amongst the participants. During the event Many of the artists stated their opinions and admiration of Matador. Damian Abraham, of Fucked Up, said that not only did Matador give them credibility as a band but also, "There were a lot of people who thought of us as that band with the swear word that yells, but Matador signing us was like, 'No, no, no, it's okay -- give it a second look.' We fell ass-backwards into being on one of the top indie labels of all time." Mike Hadreas said, "To me, signing to Matador was like getting into a really good school." 'It's a hard thing to talk about without resorting to clichés, but Matador really loves music.' Said Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo
Matador has continued to sign bands of various genres including Iceage, Lower, Algiers, Majical Cloudz and Car Seat Headrest.