August 25, 2011

August 25th, 2011 : Cause & Effect : PIAS Label Love

News stories come and go. In the modern day news cycle a tragic event is highlighted but then it is quickly pushed out to make room for the next big event. The UK riots and the PIAS warehouse fire was big news but as the world turns we quickly forget and the media coverage moves on to the next and then the next and the next again.

However the PIAS story isn't over. The record labels, artists, record stores, and distribution channels who relied on PIAS to sell records to or for them are still screwed. While PIAS has found a new warehouse space very quickly and moving forward they expect to have things be business as usual - this does not erase the fact that over 150 record labels stored product in this warehouse that was torched . These were not just UK labels, there were labels from around the world, big as well as small, and the ripple effects of this loss from this desruction is massive. The last total I heard of items lost in the fire was 3.5 million. THREE POINT FIVE MILLION records, CDs, and DVDs. One label group alone, Beggars Group, lost 750,000 units.

I know many people not closely tied to music have wondered why this fire is a big deal no less to Americans (because lets face it, many Americans don't seem to care about anything if it doesn't directly affect them) but the connection is this. Many U.S. labels send their releases to warehouse distribution centers over seas, in this case UK, to get their product to stores in that part of the world. The US rarely direct ships to stores on the other side of the Atlantic. They use a middle man like PIAS to get their music to Europe and beyond. Some American labels also license a release to a label over seas so for example a band you might know to be on a large US label here, comes out via a different label various parts of the country. And what labels you might ask? Some of the biggest American "indies" out there: Matador, Sub Pop, and 4AD to name just a few.

We are all interconnected and a tragedy in our small creative community that still cares about physical product has massive ripple effects. This isn't just a blow to England, this is truly a global issue that we have yet to see the true fallout from. Tonight from 7PM to 9PM on WRIR I will not be talking about the politics that led to the riots but rather the outcome of label discographies literally going up in smoke. Sure big labels will be able to recover a bit easier because they have more product spread out in different places around the world but small labels don't. These smaller labels don't necessarily have the money to repress more records because there is no telling what insurance will cover. Repressing costs thousands of dollars per title so some records may go out of print forever, making already limited records nearly scarce in the physical sense. Some labels have lost so much music in the fire that they may fold all together because these are already tough times for labels putting out physical product. As I have mentioned, the ripple effects are on going. And what affects a label trickles down to the bands who now have fewer or no records to sell to fans.

Everything you hear on my show tonight are labels and bands who were affected by this fire and represent a mere fraction of the total loss suffered. If you like something your hear tonight I urge you to buy the song or record in any form you can find. If there was time to support the music you love, it would be NOW. I will be posting links to every label I play tonight on WRIR.ORG.

I will record the show tonight and offer a link to it here later.

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