Beggars Banquet is the name of an indie record label here in the UK. Based in southwest London since it was founded by Martin Mills and Nick Austin in 1972, Beggars Banquet started out as a small chain of record shops in 1972.
They were soon renting out basement space to local groups, as practice space. This then led to the staff at the shops managing the bands, and organising gigs for them. When the time came to release any of their groups records, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm from the established record companies, so Beggars Banquet released the singles themselves, after striking a distribution deal with President. The companies first release was punk band The Lurkers' "Shadow/Love Story" 7-inch, in 1976, which was soon followed by their first album. This early flirtation with punk, which included The Stranglers, Generation X and The Damned, made the label a pioneer of the genre.
More successes follow, most noticeably in the guise of Gary Numan, who got the company's first Number 1 with 'Are Friends Electric' in 1979, but the company were in a precarious financial situation. They changed their distribution company to Island Records, and when that failed, they managed to strike a £100,000 deal with Warner Bros. This move into the "big league" also led to the formation of a spin-off label in 1982 called 4AD, and a year later, another label called Situation 2. These smaller labels were formed with the intention of concentrating on acquiring new talent for bands that bigger label were unwilling to touch, and feeding the larger groups onto the main label when they became more successful.
This idea soon had some success with the signing of The Cocteau Twins, Bauhaus and Dead Can Dance. The signing of Bauhaus led to people identifying the label more with goth music rather than punk and electronica, which in the mid-eighties was no bad thing, and was re-enforced with the signing of Fields of the Nephilim.
Never wanting to stagnate, 4AD changed image again by releasing the first ever "dance" music hit, 'Pump up the Volume' by M.A.R.R.S. In an attempt to ride this wave of musical popularity as well as they had done the previously in the decade, Beggars Banquet launched City Beat records, which in itself spun off XL Records, initially famous for their association with The Prodigy. Their stable of acts now includes Basement Jaxx, Badly Drawn Boy and The Avalanches.
The groups expansion in the nineties was rapid, with the main label and its subsidiaries signing Throwing Muses, The Charlatans, Mercury Rev, Lush, Urusei Yatsura, The Black Crowes, Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, Saint Etienne, Bis, Cornershop - and unfortunately Candy Flip...
Currently the Beggars Group, which currently consists of Beggars Banquet, Situation 2, 4AD, WIIIJA, Too Pure, Nation Records, Mantra, and American Recordings and many others, is expanding again, with the purchase of Mo'Wax Records, and is dabbling in the world of the Internet with their association with Playlouder.