The record label One Little Indian will be renamed One Little Independent, amid an ongoing re-evaluation of historical attitudes to race.
The British company, which has released music by Bjork, Sigur Ros and Paul McCartney’s side-project The Fireman, will also change its logo.
Founder Derek Birkett said he’d made the decision after a fan explained why the name was “offensive”
He said he “apologise[d] unreservedly to anyone that has been offended”.
The label’s name originated from a children’s counting song, that was later adapted by songwriter Septimus Winner for a 19th Century Minstrel show.
The lyrics depict the frequently violent deaths of “10 little Indian boys” – referring to the indigenous people of America – while emphasising stereotypes and caricatures of their culture.
Over the years, the word “Indians” was replaced with an offensive term for black people, and the song was frequently performed in blackface.
The rhyme still persists in modern children’s literature – with teddy bears, pirates and soldiers taking the place of racially stereotyped characters.
Birkett’s decision to change his label’s name comes as the music industry seeks to address its complicated history with race, in the wake of George Floyd’s death and Black Lives Matter protests around the world.
The term “urban music” has been scrapped by Republic Records, which is home to Drake and Ariana Grande, while the Grammys have announced they will stop using “urban” to describe music of black origin in their awards categories.
Universal Music, the world’s biggest label, has launched an “inclusion task force”, while several black stars, including Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock, have talked about pervasive racism within the industry.
“The last few weeks have been a monumental learning curve,” wrote Birkett in a statement posted on One Little Indepedent’s social media channels.
“Following the receipt of an eye-opening letter from a Crass fan that detailed precisely why the logo and label name are offensive, as well as the violent history of the terminology, I felt equally appalled and grateful to them for making me understand what must be changed.”
He went on to explain that the label had been founded in the late 1970s, when his friends were inspired by the “philosophies of the Indigenous People of the Americas”.
“I was naive enough at the time of founding my label to think that the name and logo was reflective of my respect and appreciation of the culture,” he said.
“I recognise now that both contribute to racism and should have been addressed a long, long time ago.”
In addition to changing the label’s name, he added that he would make ongoing contributions to organisations including the Honouring Indigenous Peoples Charitable Corporation and The Association on American Indian Affairs.
“I realise now that the label name and logo instead perpetuated a harmful stereotyping and exploitation of Indigenous Peoples’ culture,” he said, while acknowledging the topic “should have been addressed a long, long time ago.”