London Riots: The indie record labels’ loss

The implications that the Sony DADC warehouse fire has for independent record labels.

The truly horrific images of London’s riots are undoubtedly seared on the minds of all who have followed the coverage on the news and eye witness accounts on twitter. You can read the Other Side’s thoughts here.

This post focuses on one particular incident and its victims, the Sony distribution centre fire.

While many may have considered the Sony DADC distribution centre’s destruction as less significant than individual shopkeepers losing their businesses, there are other financial casualties as well as Sony. A massive multinational corporation like Sony will be insured and this won’t put them in financial danger. However, the warehouse also served the distribution company PIAS, a supplier to many independent record labels, some of whom have lost their entire stock. The stock itself can be replaced, but in the mean time the record companies have nothing to sell.

Some of the many labels to have lost stock include; Beggars Group, Big Brother, Domino and Warp. A full list of labels associated with PIAS can be found here.

The Beggars Group, which include 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade and XL, announced that all their UK stock has been destroyed. However, contingency plans are already underway to replace it. In a statement they said:

“Alternative arrangements are being set up, and we’ll be moving in stock from Europe to cover, as well as remanufacturing as rapidly as possible.”

Although the Beggars Group is hopefully big enough the weather the storm, smaller indie labels are at serious risk of going under. Loose is another label that had their entire stock destroyed. Their statement, though trying to remain upbeat, identifies the very real possibility of smaller labels not surviving.

“It’s certainly no secret that it’s a struggle at the best of times for many of these labels to stay afloat, where it’s more about the passion for the music than making any money from it. Therefore, this could potentially affect us all quite badly. There is a lot of doom and gloom about this being the end for many of us, but we’re going to try and be a bit more positive.”

In the spirit of Loose’s statement, let’s remain positive…

What You Can Do

AIM, the Association for Independent Music has released a statement urging music fans to buy digitally from the affected labels.

“Music fans can show their support for the independent label community, and help them survive this disaster, by buying a digital download of an album from any one of the digital retailers in the UK, as well as going to their local record store whilst stocks last.”

iTunes have featured a section on their store’s homepage for Supporting Independent Music. Although it would be more beneficial to buy direct from the record labels themselves, or through independent record shops.

There is also a fundraising campaign, Label Love, which has been set up in the aftermath of the destruction. Though still in the early stages of planning the campaign is quickly gathering pace and has adopted Paint It Black’s night at the Old Blue Last this Saturday (13th August) as its first fundraising event. There are also plans for a compilation album.

Visit Label Love and follow @_label_love_ on twitter, for all the latest events and to find out how you can help.

So, as we have seen communities coming together to clean up the debris left by the rioters, let’s help the financial mess facing independent labels by downloading their artists’ music or, even better, by going to your local record shop and buying the physical copies they do have. We’ve promoted the importance of supporting independent record shops and labels before at the Other Side, now they need us more than ever.


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