“Seattle hip-hop is having a moment right now, and Crane City Music is at the center.” — NPR

Our mission

Crane City Music proudly promotes the distinctive hip-hop culture of the Pacific Northwest. We focus on capturing and preserving the vibrant and exciting present of Seattle music through writing, photos, movies, record reviews, ‘zines, playlists, events, laser dome award shows, promotions, and more. Our focus is on voices underrepresented in mainstream hip-hop: underground musicians, women, and queer artists of color who are pushing at the boundaries of the genre.

Yeah, we also sometimes put out cool vinyl records, too. The Crane City Music collection is an essential listening library of the finest recent hip-hop albums from the PNW on wax. (You can see the whole collection here.)

Is Crane City Music a record label?

Not exactly. The only records we’re involved in producing are the ones included in The Crane City Music Collection. Each year, we release 3 or 4 vinyl records, and typically these are the “most-acclaimed” hip-hop projects out of Washington State. We don’t sign artists to elaborate record deals, and we only consider projects that align well with our label’s mission.

We often take a “wait and see” approach, evaluating a project for as long as six months after it is digitally released on SoundCloud, Spotify, or Bandcamp, to see what sort of reception it is receiving from the likes of KEXP, The Stranger, The Seattle Times, blogs, podcasts, and–most importantly–from fans. Is this record generating huge buzz online? Typically, the records we choose to release are some of the most critically-acclaimed Pacific Northwest hip-hop records from the past twelve months. It’s not uncommon for us to put out the vinyl edition of a project as much as 9-12 months after the digital and streaming release. We also have a small board made up of strongly-opinionated members of the hip-hop community who help us decide which 3 or 4 records we should pursue and release.

We do not consider nor accept unsolicited demos.

Can I submit my album for inclusion in the Crane City Music collection?

No. If you’re an artist who aligns well with our label’s mission and we decide we’re interested in doing a limited-edition vinyl record of your project, we’ll directly approach you. We rarely put anything on vinyl that hasn’t already received significant critical success and wide acclaim from the general public in a digital or streaming format first.

So what do we mean by “critical success”..? If you want to be on our radar, you should focus on building your audience both online and in the real world. The artists we’ve already worked with can easily check most (if not all) of these boxes:

  • They have more than 2,000 monthly listens on Spotify
  • They have more than 5,000 Instagram followers
  • They’ve performed at a major Pacific Northwest music festival, such as Bumbershoot, Upstream, Sasquatch or Capitol Hill Block Party, alongside national and international acts
  • They’ve headlined a bunch of shows in the Seattle area and around WA state
  • They’ve done an in-studio performance with KEXP
  • They’ve been featured in a publication like The Stranger, The Seattle Times, the KEXP blog, CityArts… Maybe even been on the cover

If you’re already at this point in your career, congratulations! Not quite checking all these boxes yet? You’re probably not ready to work with us. But keep at it! Get your numbers up, build up your fan base, play a dozen more shows and work on getting some local media coverage. Make enough noise and, at some point in the future, if we think you’re a good fit for our label, we may tap you on the shoulder. Until then, keep making great music. Best of luck.

TBH, I just want to press up some vinyl. Can you help?

That’s not our business. We recommend you reach out to a vinyl pressing plant like Cascade Record Pressing in Portland, or Gotta Groove Records in Ohio. Both of them have pretty good websites that explain the vinyl production process and they should be able to answer any questions you might have.