Rykodisc was founded in 1984 by Rob Simmonds and Don Rose as a CD specialist label. All the CDs released on the label were initially packaged in transparent green jewel boxes giving the label a unique marketing image. The first major success for the label was the award winning Mickey Hart release

Other artists to feature on the label include Morphine, Bruce Cockburn, and through the licensing of existing catlogues from other labels, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Elvis Costello and others. Rykodisc also have an extensive world music catalogue.

A number of Mickey Hart albums were released on Rykodisc, as were many of the world music releases he produced or contributed to in some other way. Some of his pre-1984 releases were reissued on CD on Rykodisc.

Robert Hunter's poetry album Sentinel was released on Rykodisc.

A number of Round Record releases, including Tales Of The Great Rum Runners, Old & In The Way and Diga, were reissued on CD by Rykodisc in the late 1980's.

The Howard Wales/Jery Garcia release Hooteroll was reissued on Rykodisc in 1987.