Chris Swanson is a founding partner of the American independent record labels Dead Oceans (formed in 2007), Jagjaguwar (1996) and Secretly Canadian (1996), each operated primarily out of Bloomington, Indiana, with satellite offices in New York, London and Austin. These labels are home to such diverse acts as Bon Iver, Antony & the Johnsons, Yeasayer, comedian Tig Notaro, The Tallest Man on Earth, Jens Lekman, Dinosaur Jr., The War on Drugs, Foxygen, Phosphorescent, The Besnard Lakes, Okkervil River and Black Mountain, to name a few.
Swanson first got involved in cinema through the works of Rick Alverson, whose first three features - The Builder (2010), New Jerusalem (2011) and The Comedy (2012) - were each co-executive produced by Swanson and his Jagjaguwar partners Darius Van Arman, Ben Swanson and Jonathan Cargill. He acted as music supervisor for The Builder and The Comedy, and has gone on to work with director Joe Swanberg on Drinking Buddies (2013). He is currently working on three other film projects that are in production.
In 2011, Swanson co-founded the artist management company Fort William Artist Management, with Ami Spishock, Ben Swanson and Darius Van Arman. Some of Fort William's clients include Beirut, Grizzly Bear, Jens Lekman and The War On Drugs.
In 2012, Swanson co-founded SC Publishing, a boutique music publishing service, whose client roster includes Bill Fay, Foxygen, Kishi Bashi, Spencer Krug, Night Beds and Frankie Rose, among others.