Projekt Records

"Projekt" redirects here. For the U.K. band, see Pro-jekt. For the projects associated with the band King Crimson., see ProjeKcts.
Projekt Records
Parent company Independent label
Founded 1983
Founder Sam Rosenthal
Distributor(s) E1 Entertainment Distribution
Genre gothic rock, ethereal, darkwave, ambient, and dark cabaret
Country of origin US
Location Portland, Oregon
Official website

Projekt is a Portland, Oregon-based independent record label that specializes in darkwave, ambient, and shoegaze, started by Sam Rosenthal in 1983. Projekt is also known for releases in the gothic rock, ethereal, dream-pop, and dark cabaret genres.

Prominent Projekt artists include Sam Rosenthal's own Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, Voltaire, Eric Wollo, Unto Ashes, Weep (Doc Hammer, co-writer of the Adult Swim show The Venture Bros.) Mira, and Android Lust.

Based over the years in South Florida, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn, Projekt is now located in Portland. Projekt released 305 titles as of summer 2014, with an additional 25 physical CDs on the Projekt: Archive (formerly Relic) sub-label. Archive also is the home to an additional 85 digital-only titles.

Sam Rosenthal runs Projekt as an independent record label, privately owned and managed by Rosenthal. After many years of struggling with self-distribution, in 1997, Projekt secured exclusive distribution in The US with Ryko Distribution. Distribution was handled through Ryko and ADA (Alternative Distribution Alliance) throughout most of the 2000s and, as of 2012, is handled by E1 Entertainment Distribution. Digital Distribution is through E1 Entertainment Distribution.

“When desolate cityscape post-punk merged with the melancholic lyrical and theatrical pull of gothic rock in the late ’80s and early ’90s, darkwave took form. Drawing in synth-heavy hypnotic pop and industrial chills, darkwave’s often whispered, crestfallen sound first began to take shape in a series of overlapping electronic and rock scenes that were particularly strong in European independent music circles. The resulting bands (whether favoring industrial, pop, shoegaze, or rock leanings) were frequently shrouded in a fitting sense of pitch-black subcultural and musical mystery, and in North America, Projekt Records was one of the first labels to promote the resulting surge of darkwave artists. Founded in 1983 by Sam Rosenthal, Projekt concentrated on releasing dream-pop, neoclassical, ambient, gothic rock and shoegaze bands, and Rosenthal’s own group, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, was an early exponent of darkwave’s hallmark mournful cabaret.” —Popmatters [1]

The label has had many employees over the years who assisted Sam with his vision. Shea Hovey is the current assistant who handles the press contacts as well as the mail-order; she has been with the label since 2000. Other employees of note were Charles Clutter, Padraic Ogle (Thanatos / Precipice Records) and Sam's ex-wife Lisa Feuer. Briefly, Sam Fogarino of Interpol worked at Projekt for a few months in the late-1990s, although Sam has often commented, "I never really knew what he did." Constantine Maroulis, of American Idol fame, worked one afternoon (approx 2004), preparing catalogs. Rosenthal runs an e-mail list with regular updates and personal commentary, often about the state of the record industry.

Label support of Digital Sales

Sam Rosenthal is a strong supporter of MP3 and digital downloads. While Rosenthal has ensured that digital files of his artists are available for legitimate download, in the early days of MP3s he went so far as to praise downloads even when not accessed legitimately.[2] Editorials on the Projekt Web site (dating back to January 2001) countered the assumption that all labels oppose all unofficial MP3 downloads. While Rosenthal did not condone downloading entire albums without paying, his view is that those exposed to music, by whatever route, will ultimately purchase albums and support the artists they enjoy.[3] In the ensuing years, his views have changed and now he speaks out against the rampant illegal downloading of albums.[4]

After the January 20, 2012, takedown of Megaupload, Rosenthal stated "[This] is a small victory for creative artists. An early step toward reasserting our rights to control our creative work and to deny criminals from exploiting our art for their profit. You see, all those millions and millions of illegal files (music, films. p&rn, books) are not up there because of an utopian belief in open-source access to art. This isn't about paradise. This is about a new way to screw the artist."[5] He went on to speak out about how artists can get their files taken down, and in support of the DoJ shut-down of sites hosting illegal music.[6]

He has since started People For The Ethical Treatment of Musicians (PETm) with the website

Rosenthal was interviewed August 8 2016 for an NPR piece[7] about the DMCA. "It's a really unreasonable expectation," he says, "that I would have the time to chase (illegal downloads) all day when I should be running a business and making music."


Projekt Records also presents Projektfest, a semi-annual festival of gothic and ethereal music, featuring primarily (but not exclusively) Projekt artists. In 1996, Projektfest ran for two days in Chicago. In 1997, Chicago was again host to two days of Projektfest and a few weeks later another day of performances were hosted in Mexico City. In 1998, Projektfest was a series of four one-day events in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City. The 2002 Projektfest was held over three days in Philadelphia, at the Trocadero and other sites. Projekt hosted Projektfest '07 as part of the Blacksun Festival in New Haven, Connecticut, in August.[8] Projektfest'10 was held July 30 & 31, 2010.[9] Projektfest '11 was held November 12, 2011, at The Middle East (nightclub) in Cambridge, MA, featuring the artists Voltaire, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, and Weep.[10]


Current Roster

Past Roster

See also


  1. Engulfed in Dark Waves: Lycia's Cold
  2. San Francisco Chronicle article quoting Rosenthal's opinion on MP3.
  3. Projekt Records site Sam's views on + Napster
  4. Projekt Records site Sam's 2009 view on MP3s.
  5. Projekt Records site Abuse-Locker. Sam's 2012 views on Illegal files.
  6. I Run an Indie Label. And Here's Why I Support the MegaUpload Shutdown...
  7. All Tech Considered
  8. Projectfest web site
  9. Projektfest'10 Web site
  10. Projektfest '11 Web site
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