Among the many casualties of the riots that took place in London and elsewhere this week, one hit especially close to my heart. I don’t for a second want to trivialize the horrors of injuries and in some cases loss of life that occurred, and my heart goes out to those people and their families. I spent several nights worrying about the people I know and love who live there, though thankfully they’re all fine.
However, there was one tragedy which, while not causing any direct human damage, will seriously affect an entire group of people for whom I have respect, admiration, and even love. A Sony/PIAS distribution center was burned down during one night of rioting, a distribution center for a very large number of small, independent record labels. Labels for bands like The National, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Atlas Sound, Bauhaus, The Pixies, Animal Collective, Elliot Smith, Okkervil River, Iron & Wine, The Shins, and hundreds of others you and I may or may not have heard of have, in some cases, lost their entire stock of hard-copy albums. These are artists I love, artists I support, artists I listened to on endless repeat while they helped me write my book. Artists who instilled such a love of music in me that I felt compelled to write the book I did. None of them make enough money and many of their record labels are in real danger of going out of business for good, unable to cover what insurance isn’t going to.
I’m doing my best to keep this soapbox as low to the ground as possible, and I actually debated about posting this at all, but I have to. A huge source of inspiration for me just – literally – went up in flames. Artists can survive without their record labels, just as self-published authors can be successful without agents or publishing houses, but it’s possible I’d never have heard of some of them, or it would’ve taken me a lot longer to discover music I love. It’s even more likely that the Next Big Thing was in that warehouse, the next musician to grab hold of my ears and my heart, and now that CD or vinyl will never see the light of day because the label that was about to release now can’t afford to.
And so I ask this. If there are record labels populated by musicians you love, particularly any on this list (at the bottom of the article), please support them and in turn those musicians. Buy digital copies through iTunes or Amazon or however you do such things and help out, even if it’s just the cost of one CD, or one song.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cry for the loss of all that vinyl. I’m a purist, what can I say.