1980: Bruce Pavitt begins publishing his alternative music zine, Subterranean Pop
1986: The first Sub Pop LP, Sub Pop 100, a compilation featuring Sonic Youth and other bands, is released
1987: Sub Pop releases Soundgarden’s first EP, Screaming Life.
Bruce Pavitt. Photo by Bob Whittaker
1988: Sub Pop Records LLC is officially formed by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman.
1989: Nirvana’s debut album, Bleach, is released, a benchmark “grunge” album that helped popularize the genre. It’s still the label’s best-selling record, with nearly 2 million copies sold.
Mudhoney. Photo by Emily Rieman
1989: Lame Fest, a three-act Sub Pop showcase featuring Nirvana, Mudhoney and Tad, sells out at The Moore Theatre--the first time for local bands at the midsize venue. “The local media really started taking the music a lot more seriously,” Pavitt says.
1992: As a prank, Megan Jasper, then working for Sub Pop distributor Caroline Records, fabricates the totally fake "lexicon of grunge" for a reporter from The New York Times
1995: Forty-nine percent of the label is sold to Warner Music Group, an arrangement still in place today
Photo by Sarah Cass
A culture shock follows the Warner deal; Pavitt departs Sub Pop in an unamicable split and does not speak with Poneman for years.
1996 - 2001: Post-grunge, the label struggles to find the next batch of "Sub Pop" bands. "We desperately needed to come together and regroup as a company," Jasper says.
2001: Things start to look up after the label releases The Shins’ debut album, Oh, Inverted World (one of the label’s best-selling releases, selling more than 600,000 copies).
2003: Give Up, the only studio album by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard’s electronic indie group, The Postal Service, is released and goes platinum. It’s the second best-selling record on Sub Pop.
Tacocat. Photo by Michael Lavine
2007: Sub Pop launches its most successful imprint, Hardly Art Records, dedicated to emerging and experimental acts, including Seattle’s Tacocat, La Luz and The Moondoggies.
Photo courtesy Space Needle LLC
2013: Mudhoney performs on top of the Space Needle to celebrate the label’s 25th anniversary.
Photo by Spencer Chappelle
2014: Sub Pop opens the Sub Pop Airport Store at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a retail space with label merchandise, music and other Sub Pop–designed wares, broadcasting Seattle as a music-loving city to travelers from near and far.
Photo by Hayley Young
2016: Megan Jasper becomes Sub Pop's CEO.
2018: Sub Pop celebrates 30 years of going out of business.