Sunday, 21 August 2011

UK Riots devastate independent record labels

Fire destroys a Sony warehouse in Enfield in north London (Pic: Reuters)
The UK’s independent music scene was dealt a devastating "body blow" as arsonists torched a Sony warehouse in Enfield, north London, last week.
The warehouse was the headquarters for PIAS, a distribution firm associated with over 100 independent labels - including those of Adele and The Arctic Monkeys.
An incredible 3.2 million units of stock were destroyed in the blaze, with Maximo Park's label Warp Records losing its entire British back catalogue spanning 21 years.

Now music enthusiasts from across the industry have come together to salvage PIAS and its thousands of dedicated artists from the wreckage of the riots.
The event marked another shocking chapter in the nationwide rioting, hitting a market that "really didn't need that setback".
A £250,000 emergency fund has been set up by AIM (The Association of Independent Music) and Lauren Laverne dedicated her BBC6 Music shows last week to create a 'people's playlist' playing tracks from PIAS-affiliated artists.
Online retailers have offered their support, with iTunes creating an section for solely-independent material.
Lending a significant hand to the efforts, music bloggers Dan Salter and Hannah Morgan have created LABELLOVE, a project which now has almost three million Facebook followers and which is co-ordinating benefit gigs and CD releases to aid the rescue effort.
"We have been overwhelmed with the number of people that have got in touch" said Dan.
"The response has just exploded. People have been getting in touch from everywhere from Tokyo all the way to Virginia in the US."
Benefit gigs are to take place across the country, with one scheduled for September 2nd in Manchester and further shows planned in Liverpool, Glasgow, Oxford and across London. A compilation CD showcasing independent British music was also planned but Dan explained that the response has been so great that an entire series of CDs can now be released.
"People have been offering exclusive tracks and remixes and we want to capture this while its still fresh."
Meanwhile PIAS CEO Kenny Gates has expressed his gratitude at the way the industry has rallied against the "worst setback" his company has experienced during 30 years in the industry.
"The solidarity around it is huge, it is really great to see" he said.
Gates started his company from scratch back in 1982 and believes that despite losing millions of pounds of revenue, some positives can still come out of the situation for indie labels.
"The spotlight has been put on the independent sector. Music in the UK is based on tens of individuals who are passionate about what they do and do it out of love. The public are starting to understand that better now."
Three youths have since been arrested in connection with starting the fire, yet Gates does not feel resentment towards them, remaining optimistic about the "adventure" PIAS is experiencing.
"I have no hate, no like, particular pleasure of them being arrested," he said.
"Four people died in the riots. A few million CDs are nothing in comparison with lives lost."
"Businesses and the work of entrepreneurs has been lost and that is our duty and our focus, to overcome this. It's scrambling at the moment but this is not insurmountable."
Numerous independent record labels fear they have lost a catastrophic amount of stock in a fire at a distribution warehouse in north London during the riots in the capital a few weeks ago. A three-storey, 20,000 square-metre building in Enfield, owned by Sony DADC and holding stock to be distributed by the Pias Group, was burned to the ground.
The fire will potentially impact labels such as Domino, as well as film production companies with DVD stock. Pias is the UK's largest independent sales, marketing and distribution company.
Other labels that may be affected include 4AD, Warp and Beggars Banquet. Beggars Group chairman Martin Mills confirmed his group had stock at the site, but told Music Week that he and other larger labels would be less affected by the disaster than smaller counterparts because they carried stock in other locations. Nevertheless, Mills called the latest setback for the indie sector "horrible, horrible" and added that many labels would also now face manufacturing issues to replenish destroyed stock.
statement on the Pias website read: "There was a fire last night at the SonyDADC warehouse which services the physical distribution for Pias in the UK and Ireland. Pias is working closely with SonyDADC who are implementing their emergency plans. Pias's UK offices in London and all other areas of our business are unaffected. More information will be communicated shortly to all our labels and partners."
Industry analyst Paul Scaife said: "Physical retail is still absolutely crucial to many in the independent sector and if – as seems quite likely – several smaller labels aren't covered by insurers, this could be the difference between survival and going out of business."
Label boss, festival promoter and DJ Rob Da Bank told the Guardian that all the stock for his company Sunday Best had burned in the blaze: "I'm furious that people are doing this, and I'm devastated for Pias and all the labels that have lost stock. But at the moment I'm more concerned with stopping this stupid behaviour from happening – at the end of the day it's just physical product that's gone, not lives or houses, so I'm trying not to get too hung up on it."
Rob Da Bank said details of what exactly happened were still "scant" but Sony had called to confirm all their stock had gone. "We know Pias is insured so hopefully in terms of getting restocked we can all do that, although I can't say for definite right now if that will happen. It won't ruin us as a business, but it will be a problem for labels who need stock to sell to keep them going. For us we have a Kitty, Daisy and Lewis tour where a major source of our revenue is selling CDs and merchandise at the gigs. You look at the roll call of labels on Pias and they're some of the most important indie labels in the world. I just wish these people realised it was music they were destroying, and it's not helping anyone."
A spokesperson for Domino Records said the label had lost "a large quantity" of its CD and vinyl stock in the fire. "While relieved that no one was injured in the incident, we're upset about the loss and destruction of our stock, and thinking of our friends at other independent labels who were also affected by the fire. We are currently working hard with Sony DADC to maintain our release schedule and keep business going as usual."
The physical release of Arctic Monkeys' new single, The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala, is one of the first records to be affected, with limited quantities of the 7in version now only available on its planned release date (15 August) via The label confirmed all stock going to retail outlets had been destroyed in the fire.
The release of Charlie Simpson's debut solo album, Young Pilgrim, was also severely delayed by the blaze, which destroyed all 30,000 units. Matthew Page, head of Simpson's label, said: "The album was due to be released this coming Monday. That, of course, will not happen now. It's a time issue. Our release campaign has been building for a long time, and it's like bringing the kettle to the boil, so that everything can come together at the same time. The fire has put the entire release in total jeopardy, and we feel very sorry for Charlie, who's been working on this album for a year. We're not clear what the way forward is now."
Simpson himself added: ""I'm very upset and frustrated to hear that the Sony distribution warehouse was burnt down last night. Nusic Sounds & PIAS are champions for independent artists and music, I'm proud to be part of that. We will support them in any way possible through this difficult time. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people that have had their families, homes and businesses affected by this terrible situation."
Alex Kapranos of the band Franz Ferdinand, who are signed to Domino,tweeted: "Thoughts go out to all the labels who have lost their stock in Pias fire."
Kapranos also questioned where the prime minister was during the looting, asking: "Where the fuck are the Bullingdon boys?.... Would you only end your holidays if it were Fortnum & Mason being looted?"
Other musicians to express their views on the riots included poet and musician Scroobius Pip, who said: "This is Britain punching itself in the face. Repeatedly."
Rapper MIA apparently tweeted, "im going down to the riots to hand out tea and mars bars #london", provoking anger from many of her followers before the comment subsequently appeared to be taken down from her Twitter account.
The full list of labels distributed by Pias is as follows:
2020 Vision
Ad Altiora
Adventures Close to home
All City
Alt Delete
Ambush Reality
Atlantic Jaxx
B Unique
Bad Sneakers
Big Chill
Big Dada
Big Life / Nul / Sindy Stroker
Border Community
Buzzin Fly
Can You Feel It
Chemikal Underground
City Rockers
D Cypher
Dance To The Radio
Def Jux
Dirtee Stank
Divine Comedy
Drag City
Drive Thru
Drowned in Sound
Eat Sleep / Sorepoint
Electric Toaster
F. Comm
Faith And Hope
Fantastic Plastic
Finders Keepers / Twisted Nerve
Free Range
From The Basement
Full Time Hobby
Groove Attack
Info UK
Join Us
Laughing Stock
Lo Max
Love Box
Lucky Number
Marquis Cha Cha
Memphis Industry
New World
Ninja Tune
Nuclear Blast
One Little Indian
Output / People in the Sky / Process
Pale Blue
PIAS Recordings
PIP 555 Productions
Play To Work
Powerhouse (T2)
Propaganda / Ho Hum
Raw Canvas
Red Grape
Red Telephone Box
Respect Productions (PES digital)
Reveal Records
Rock Action
Rough Trade
Rough Trade Comps
Ruffa Lane
Search And Destroy
Secret Sundaze
Secretly Canadian / Jagjaguwar / Dead Oceans
Sell Yourself
Sideone Dummy
Slam Dunk
Something In Construction
Sonar Kollectiv
Soul Jazz
Southern Fried
Stranded Soldier
Sunday Best
Ten Worlds
Thrill Jockey
Total Fitness
Touch And Go
Track And Field
Try Harder
Twenty 20
Union Square
Urban Torque
Wall Of Sound
Wonky Atlas
Word And Sound
Xtra Mile
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