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Promos, Test Pressings and More: What Is A White Label Record?

A White Label Record

Holly |

White label records are a type of vinyl record that is usually produced in small quantities and distributed without any official labels or branding. They are typically used for promotional purposes or by DJs to play exclusive tracks that have not yet been released to the public.

White label records have a long history dating back to the early days of vinyl records. In the 1960s and 1970s, white label records were often used by independent record labels to promote their releases to radio stations and DJs. These records were usually stamped with only basic information such as the artist name and song title, and were often distributed in plain white sleeves. 

Having the records be so plain was beneficial in concealing who the artist on the record was, to avoid DJs having any preconceived opinions about what they were about to spin. White label records are often seen as a way for artists and labels to test new material or build buzz around upcoming releases without committing to a full release. 

Derek & The Dominos – Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
Derek & The Dominos – Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs

Here is an example of a Derek & The Dominos Promo LP released by Simply Vinyl. You’ll notice that it is in their stock sleeve with the artist, title and catalogue number handwritten on the sleeve. The labels themselves are unmarked, and the identifying matrix numbers are the same as the official release. See below for the official release, which is a reissue of the album originally released in 1970. 

Derek & The Dominos – Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs
Derek & The Dominos – Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs

In the 1980s and 1990s, white label records became more popular among electronic dance music (EDM) DJs, who used them to play exclusive remixes and unreleased tracks during their sets. These records were often produced in small quantities and distributed through underground channels, making them highly sought-after among collectors. 

White label records have also been used for illicit purposes, such as bootlegging and DJ mixes. Bootleggers would often create unauthorized copies of popular albums and sell them on white label records to avoid detection. DJs would also use white label records to create and distribute their own mixes, often with unauthorized samples or remixes of popular songs. 

Did you know?

Sometimes, the only way to work out what is on a white label is to use an app like Shazam to record it.

When it comes to buying and selling, white labels can be particularly difficult to identify. Most of them will have a sticker or handwriting on the label to indicate what it is. We once came across one with a drawing on the label! 

Just Jack – Writer
Just Jack - Writers Block​​

However, white labels are often completely blank, with no text or markings on the label. When this is the case, it becomes necessary to look at the matrix etchings in the run out of the record to uncover the release information. These codes can be searched on sites like Discogs, or even Google, and usually lead to an answer. Occasionally, there will even be nothing in the run out! This is where technology can come in very handy. You can use the app Shazam (which is now a built-in function on iPhone) to record a sample of the song. If you’re lucky, it’ll recognise the track and come back with an answer for you. 

If not, you’ll have another record to add to a box of mysterious white labels. We’ve had a good handful of these over the years.

Here are some of the white labels we’ve seen over the last few months...

Architechs - Body Groove - 12" - Not On Label

Architechs - Body Groove - 12" Vinyl Record - EX

Some of these were released as a totally white label, and some were stickered. Our copy was given a sticker. This is a UK Garage release from 2000. Architechs were an electronic duo consisting of brothers Ashley and Paul Akabah.   

Endora - Joy E.P. - 12" - Matsuri Productions

Endora - Joy E.P. - 12" - Matsuri Productions

Another electronic release, this is a goa-trance track by Endora, released in 1996. It was released on the label Matsuri Productions, who specialise in the psychedelic trance scene.


This one says ‘test pressing’ on the white label itself and comes with a release note which is a document that accompanies a new release of an album or single on vinyl, which provides information about the album or single, such as the track listing, credits, and production details as well as context and background information about the release. Read more about test pressings.

Kissing The Pink - Don't Hide In The Shadows - 7" - Martyrwell Music Co.

Kissing The Pink - Don

A notably rare one, this is a white label 7” version of Don't Hide in the Shadows by Kissing The Pink, released in 1981. Kissing The Pink are a new wave and synth band formed in 1980. They started to see some success after signing with Magnet records and working with producer Colin Thurston. The label here is remarkably plain, with just a handwritten 'A' to denote the A side.

Sugababes - Are Freaks Electric? - 7" - Island Records

Sugababes - Are Freaks Electric? - 7" - Island Records

This one is fun! Released in 2002 on Island Records, only around 100 copies of the white label were pressed. Sugababes are, of course, one of the bestselling female pop groups of the noughties. The track is a reworking of the ‘Girls On Top’ bootleg remix which was eventually released officially as their single ‘Freak Like Me.’ 

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