The ongoing rioting in London struck a potentially devastating blow to the U.K.’s independent record labels last night when a 200,000-square-foot Sony DADC warehouse went up in flames, destroying countless records and CDs distributed by the PIAS Group on behalf of scores of indie labels including such famed imprints as Beggars Banquet, 4AD, Mute and Rough Trade.
Those larger independent labels won’t be as badly hurt, Beggars Group chairman Martin Mills tells Music Week, because they keep stock at other locations around Europe. But dozens of smaller labels — see a full list here — may have had their entire physical inventory wiped out in the blaze, which resulted in no injuries
Industry analyst Paul Scaife tells The Guardian that the Sony fire could crush smaller labels: “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.”
Reissue imprint Beggars Archive this morning posted on its blog that “all our U.K. stock is gone,” but that the label is “remanufacturing as rapidly as possible” and moving stock from Europe to cover. The label says the fire will impact catalog availability, “but fortunately the This Mortal Coil boxes and Throwing Muses sets are still in transit, so we haven’t lost those.”
In response to the fire, the U.K.’s Association of Independent Music is calling on fans to buy downloads from U.K. digital retailers: “This way, the labels will be able to remanufacture their CDs and vinyl more quickly, to resupply the record shops who are also affected by the riots.”