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Mute Records is a British independent record label, founded in 1978 by Daniel Miller, and one of the most important names in the British alternative scene, acting as one of the "big three" labels of the movement alongside Rough Trade Records and the now-defunct Factory Records.

A film editor and aspiring musician, Miller created Mute following a meeting with Rough Trade aiming to get a distribution deal for his work as industrial musician the Normal. Not intending to become a full-time musician, Miller refrained from signing a contract with Rough Trade, simply aiming for them to distribute a single 500-print run of his debut single "T.V.O.D."/"Warm Leatherette". Nevertheless, the label informed him that he couldn't have his work distributed unless he put something on the sleeve; because his lack of a contract with Rough Trade prevented him from simply using their name, he came up with the name "Mute" as a throwaway credit. To his surprise, however, "T.V.O.D." started to attract attention from other amateur artists seeking a small-scale deal with the nonexistent label, owing to Miller putting his personal address on the record sleeve for business inquiries. One artist, Fad Gadget, particularly caught Miller's attention, and became Mute's first signed act in 1979, turning the self-serving distribution outlet into a genuine, if small, record label. From that point onward, Mute would slowly continue to make their way up as a label, first coming to mainstream prominence with the signing of a quirky Synth-Pop quartet by the name of Depeche Mode, whose first singles and debut album Speak & Spell quickly put the band— and Mute— on the map. While Depeche Mode would quickly see their momentum stalled by the Artist Disillusionment-driven departure of their chief songwriter, Vince Clarke, the latter would both maintain and bolster Mute's momentum with the success of his next project: a collaboration with amateur singer Alison Moyet called Yazoo. With Clarke's second project hitting the ground running from their debut single alone and continuing their success all throughout their one-year lifespan, Mute quickly ascended up the ranks, with Depeche Mode stepping back into the spotlight in 1983 to bring the label even higher up with a new, Darker and Edgier, industrial-infused Alternative Dance sound.

As the 80's continued, not only did Mute continue to find success with the rising star of a Clarke-less Depeche Mode and Clarke's third and longest-lasting outing, Erasure, they also managed to garner more and more talents among their roster, from Nick Cave to D.A.F. alum Robert Görl to Laibach to the archival works of Einstürzende Neubauten. Alongside Factory Records, Mute became a leading label in alternative dance, though eschewed Factory's idiosyncratic mix of minimalist aesthetics and bizarre cataloging in favor of a bolder, more exact look and style (for one, Mute didn't assign catalog numbers to stray animals and dental surgeries). By the end of the decade, Alternative Rock broke into the American mainstream, and with it Depeche Mode quickly became the face for Mute, who themselves now attained international legitimacy off of this success. Meanwhile, as Factory found themselves stumbling into bankruptcy in the early 90's, Mute reached even greater heights, launching the techno subsidiary Novamute in 1992, becoming one of the first British record labels to establish an online presence in 1994 and capping the millennium off by signing on Goldfrapp.

In 2002, the label was bought out by EMI, giving Mute further clout as a subsidiary of one of the biggest major labels in the worldnote . The deal was short-lasted, with Mute returning to independent status in 2009 (though giving EMI their back-catalog rights up until the company's 2012 dissolution), but the label still maintained the same headway that they'd built up to over the decades with the solo debut of Dave Gahan and a campaign of both reissues and new releases by The Residents. Mute continued to keep their heads above water throughout the 2010's, popping back into the music news cycle when Factory alums New Order signed on in 2014, and in 2017 the label relaunched Novamute with new releases from Nicolas Bougaïeff and Terence Fixmer. Today, Mute continues to maintain its position as one of the most prominent British alternative labels; while its biggest acts are no longer dominant in popular music and the rights to its backlog are now split up among Sony Music (who own the Depeche Mode catalog) and BMG Rights Management (who own almost everything else as part of the European-mandated rights divestment from Universal Music Group after the collapse of EMI), it continues to act as one of the biggest success stories in indie history.

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