4AD is a British record label owned by Beggars Group. It was founded in London under the name Axis Records by Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent in 1980 as an imprint of Beggars Banquet Records. The name was changed to 4AD after the release of the label’s first four singles. Later that year, Watts-Russell and Kent purchased the label from Beggars Banquet to become an independent record label, and Kent sold his share to Watts-Russell a year later.

The label gained prominence in the 1980s for releasing albums from alternative rock, post-punk, gothic rock, and dream pop artists, such as Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Modern English, Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Throwing Muses, and Watts-Russell’s own musical project This Mortal Coil. In 1987, the label scored an international hit with the dance music single “Pump Up the Volume” by the one-off project M|A|R|R|S. 4AD continued to have success in the 1990s and 2000s, with releases from The Breeders, Lush, Belly, Red House Painters, Camera Obscura, TV on the Radio, St. Vincent, and Bon Iver. As of January 2022, the label’s current roster includes acts such as Dry Cleaning, The National, Daughter, Deerhunter, Big Thief, Aldous Harding, U.S. Girls, Erika de Casier, and Future Islands.In 1999, Watts-Russell sold 4AD back to the Beggars Group. The label’s history was detailed by Martin Aston in the book Facing The Other Way, released in 2013.

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