Indie labels hit hard in London riots; fund established

August 11, 2011

This morning, I received an email from an indie label based in England simply titled “Fires.” Stolen Recordings, a wee label, which I don’t even believe has proper U.S. distribution lost a good amount of inventory, many limited runs of vinyl CD, in a fire that burnt down a warehouse owned by Sony Music (I have written about their band Pete and the Pirates several times).

The latest news is that police have arrested three teens in connection with the fire, according to Spinner.com (Read here). Kenny Gates, the Founder & CEO of [PIAS], an umbrella distributor of many smaller indies, said in a statement: “Sony DADC have been remarkably quick and efficient to put together a contingency plan that should allow us to ship to stores sometime next week” (Read the full message).

Most recently, [PIAS] established a fund to help the indies affected by this loss music and art. Here’s part of that statement: “Labels and artists affected by the destruction of the Sony DADC warehouse are faced with incredible pressures on their businesses in respect to the re-manufacture, re-supply and marketing required as a result of the fire. Whilst it is expected that insurance will cover the lost stock, the reality for many labels is that they will not be compensated or insured for an interruption of trade or the additional capital to reproduce the stock that they have lost and the promotion in which they have invested.” Information about donating can be found in the full statement. Finally here is a list of [PIAS] labels affected by the fire (see here), though I have read as many as 150 independent labels were affected.

Worst of all, these riots of cost lives. Today, news broke that three men were killed in Birmingham trying to protect their shop from looters (here’s the BBC report). I’ve heard and seen the interviews with these rioters who are setting fires to buildings, including homes, cars and buses and beating people in the streets, not to mention looting shops, including mom and pop businesses. These offer such deep reasoning for their actions like “We do it because we can,” “it’s the government’s fault” and “because everyone else is doing it.”

Anarchy is just an idiot’s form of hypocrisy. The truth is there are complicated circumstances that lead to such boiling over of violence. Race and class divisions are probably the larger issue, and the state indeed deserves some blame with their polices, including taking away medical and education benefits for the public who had come to take it all for granted. Maybe if these punks would have been better educated they might understand the lives and livelihoods they are affecting. However, this is no way to get back at “the man” because, you ultimately only affect your neighbor.

I’ll leave you with a free mp3 sanctioned for download everywhere, from one of those band’s affected by this fire:

Download Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s “Ffunny Ffriends”

The Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s new self-titled album (Support the Independent Ethos, purchase on Amazon) has a wonderful retro feel, that’s at once dreamy and progressive. The Portland-based band know how to stick an ear worm in their songs, which often have a knack for making the most of the unappreciated fade-out coda, where the song seems to tease to so much more. At once grungy and psychedelic, UMO remind me a bit of those electronic sixties pioneers Silver Apples, but also bring to mind the prog side of Ween and Kraut rockers like Can. They probably fit best alongside contemporary celebrators of psychedelia like MGMT. But the fuzzy, flat production quality that permeates the new album adds a deeper side to their retro feel.

As far as human tact, though. They seem a bit contradictory. Yesterday, UMO actually tweeted: “All our albums got burned up. Stop coming up with “hot summer album” puns TARD BRAIN”

So, indeed, they suffered losses to their most excellent record, pictured above. Still, a few hours later, UMO tweeted: “I don’t mean to offend anyone when I say this but was anyone else happy about how powerless the police were in those riots?”

So there’s even some hypocrisy there. Sheesh.

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2011 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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