In American culture, the average amount of time you have to catch someone’s attention is less than 5 seconds. So it’s quite the feat when anything lasts any amount of time, especially 25 years! Such is the case with Midwest-born independent record label Zerobudget Records.

Formed in 1986 by Stephen Harm (owner, musician, promoter) as a vanity label for his band The Victims, it became quite apparent that the key distinctions between a vanity label and a “real” label were actually not that great. They both promote, distribute and emphasize music as an important and necessary part of everyday life. The only real difference was money. So why not take the goals of a traditional label and position it to be successful because of the its connections to its principal investors, the musicians in the bands themselves? The idea of a label for the musician by the musician became the goal.

This philosophy may very well be the reason the label has had such longevity and continues to see growth so many years later. The bands and musicians are in essence the stockholders for the label. The musicians as a group make decisions in regards to every facet of the label; coming aboard doesn’t guarentee your band goes to the top of the priority list: you become part of a community.

Hundreds of bands have been a part of this history and ideal throughout the label’s ups and downs. There have been periods of dormancy, but in the last 8 years the label has seen tremendous growth and opportunity. Some of our artists have gone on to bigger and “more lucrative” ventures, but the music industry can be a terrible mistress. We could bore you with a litany of dates and accomplishments, even a list of releases to accentuate the enormity of material this label has helped promote, but we would rather leave you this idea to ponder: is a life without music really even worth living?

Thanks for visiting the site!

Will Maravelas
ZBR Coordinator (2004-Present)