Deep in the heartland of America lurks a menace. The menace of capitalism is a giant monstrous invisible force. It has tendrils that lash out in all directions. Creating vines of bright colored plastic in its wake. The music industry is this monster through and through. Tax scam releases are this beast in corporeal form. Abused hopes and dreams become packed up in lack luster remanufactured crap. Shrink-wrapped together to rot somewhere in a warehouse. Said and done, a loss is taken on paper during a small loophole of time in the 1970’s.
The concept was that a label would set up a sub label that did nothing but lose money. Labels did this by putting anything available on record and shoving it in a warehouse to rot, with no intention of actually selling it. This way the real label where actual money came in could pretend it was operating at more of a loss.
Stonewall is perhaps the most famous example. In 2014 a copy sold for over $14,000. I think it’s a good record, but not a year’s worth of rent, good. It got issued on Tiger Lily, which was possibly connected to Roulette. With a name like Roulette, there’s no way any funny business could have ever been possibly going down.
These type of releases usually come in a few different forms. Most often, they are demos sent in by hopeful musicians that got rejected. Often, the musicians themselves never know that the material got pressed until years after. Other times they are dubious bootleg versions of existing records. Such as this one by Sly & The Family Stone and James Brown.
Other labels to be aware of are Guinness and Dellwood. These could be imprints of Prelude and another major label. Album Globe or Album World did it a little bit different. They made a different label for each release and noted themselves as the distributor.
There are many, many more examples which cover the whole spectrum of genres and styles. Get out there, get looking, fill in those holes in known catalogs and comment below!