4AD Records is an independent record label from the UK, started up in 1979 and still active today as part of the Beggars Group[[note]]which includes other seminal indie labels like Matador and Rough Trade Records[[/note]].

The label was started by two former Beggars Banquet employees, Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent, initially named Axis Records. After it was discovered that an Axis label already existed, it was renamed to 4AD, based on a promotional flyer where "1980 FORWARD" was gradually abbreviated to "4AD". Kent sold his share of the company to Watts-Russell in 1981, leaving him sole owner and president.

4AD first became famous in TheEighties as the home of critically acclaimed DreamPop bands such as Music/CocteauTwins, Music/DeadCanDance and Watts-Russell's own collaborative project Music/ThisMortalCoil. These bands helped [[TropeCodifier codify]] the genre's main characteristics, such as a combination between {{Ambient}} production and accessible melodies, complex arrangements, copious EchoingAcoustics, and a distinctive visual identity, courtesy of the label's in-house graphic designer Vaughan Oliver. The identification is so widespread that "4AD" is frequently used as a shorthand for "the classic dream pop sound".

However, this wasn't all 4AD had to offer, as was highlighted by its famous 1987 sampler compilation ''Lonely Is An Eyesore''. The label soon expanded into American AlternativeRock, signing Music/ThePixies, Music/TheBreeders and Music/ThrowingMuses, among others, and establishing a UsefulNotes/LosAngeles office in TheNineties, from where a lot of the {{Slowcore}} bands that drove the label that decade operated.

Despite a minor hit with Modern English's "I Melt With You" in 1983 and a huge success with M/A/R/R/S' [[{{Sampling}} sampletastic]] "Pump Up the Volume" in 1987, 4AD were always more of a CultClassic UK-focused label, which led them to signing a distribution deal with Creator/WarnerBrosRecords in 1992. This is considered a sign of the end of "classic 4AD", as many of its flagship bands were leaving or disbanding, and Watts-Russell himself left the label in 1999, but it remained active. Its importance was recognised by the Beggars Group in 2008 through a reorganisation that merged many of its subsidiary labels into 4AD (including Beggars Banquet itself).
!!"Classic" 4AD artists include:

* Music/{{Bauhaus}}
** Music/TonesOnTail
* Music/CocteauTwins
* Music/DeadCanDance
* Music/ThisMortalCoil
* Dif Juz
* Music/ARKane
* Colourbox
** M/A/R/R/S[[labelnote:note]]a side-project involving Colourbox and A.R. Kane[[/labelnote]]
* The Wolfgang Press
* Clan of Xymox
* Modern English
* Heidi Berry[[labelnote:note]]Was originally signed to [[/index]]Creator/CreationRecords[[index]], but moved to 4AD in 1989.[[/labelnote]]
* Music/ThePixies
** Music/TheBreeders
** Frank Black
* Music/ThrowingMuses
** Music/TanyaDonnelly
** Music/{{Belly}}
* Music/LisaGermano
* Music/PaleSaints
* Music/{{Lush}}
* Mojave 3
** Rachel Goswell
** Neil Halstead
* The Music/RedHousePainters[[note]]Who infamously suffered from Ivo Watts-Russell's ExecutiveMeddling and were thrown off the label in 1996.[[/note]]
* Music/HisNameIsAlive
* Music/TheBirthdayParty
* Music/{{Galaxie 500}}
* Music/TheThe

!Current 4AD bands include:

* Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
* The Big Pink
* Blonde Redhead
* Music/BonIver (only in Europe, Jagjaguwar handles US distribution)
* Music/{{Deerhunter}}
* Music/{{Efterklang}}
* Music/{{Grimes}}
* Music/IronAndWine (only in Europe, Creator/WarnerBrosRecords handles US distribution)
* Music/TheNational
* Music/StVincent
* tUnE-yArDs
* Music/TVOnTheRadio
* Music/USGirls
* Music/ScottWalker