One of the great independent record labels of all time was 2 Tone. It began as a tiny company founded in 1979 by Jerry Dammers, an Indian-born, ex-art student and the leader of a British ska group called the Specials. When he couldn’t find any established record company to release records by his group, Jerry decided to form his own company.
For a while, 2 Tone was the most important indie label in the UK, launching the careers of not only the Specials, but the English Beat, Madness and Elvis Costello. It also was instrumental in the post-punk revival of ska, which we’re still feeling today. The label doesn’t exist in its original form–it fell on hard times in the 80s and Jerry had to sell–but you can still buy 2 Tone collections and box sets. If you want to hear where today’s ska punk came from, you should check out some of the classic 2 Tone records of the late 70s and early 80s.