A warehouse fire is a particularly vicious form of bad luck. The PIAS warehouse in London was burned down in the ongoing flash mob riots–PIAS specialize in distributing independent labels. Any distributor has in their warehouse hundreds of thousands of units (CDs, vinyl, DVDs) “on the floor” meaning that the units have been manufactured, are in inventory, but not yet sold to a shop. PIAS accounts to the labels when shops buy these units, labels account to artists and songwriters, and so on through the ecosystem. (“Returns” are not handled the same way in the UK as they are in the US, so when a record is sold to a shop, it is much less likely to come back in the UK than it is here. So that’s real money.)
Even if you assume there is adequate insurance to go around, which may be a big assumption, a very fragile ecosystem has just suffered a huge and sudden economic contraction that affects every artist, songwriter and indie label who kept their inventories at PIAS. My bet is that very few indie labels have business interruption insurance as a warehouse fire is not a risk that you give a very high probability of occurring. And there is a question as to whether a warehouse fire resulting from a riot would even be insured at all given the typical carveouts. According to the Guardian, “The Riots (Damages) Act 1886 specifies that if damage is caused by people “riotously and tumultuously assembled”, local police authorities are required to compensate victims” not insurers. And good luck with that. Artists and indie labels are always at the tippy top of that list.
So not only do these creators run the risk of losing their inventory in a few minutes for no reason they could anticipate, they also can’t fill orders to shops that want to carry the records. That also means that the shops are losing sales. In the case of some shops that specialize in indie records (like Rough Trade, for example), the economic loss hits them as well.
It is important then for the labels to come up with the extra short term cash to replace the units before shop inventories run out. Given the lean retail environment, those inventories are not very high to begin with.
Please consider downloading tracks on iTunes and other retailers from the labels listed below in AIM’s statement.
The Association of Independent Music in the UK released this statement:
“The London riots have caused the destruction of a warehouse in North London housing many of the UK’s independent labels and artists. All the stock has been destroyed in the fire. This will lead to much hardship for the artists and labels affected.
AIM member labels should contact email@example.com with their immediate concerns. AIM is doing what it can to support all those affected at this difficult time.
Music fans can show their support for the independent label community, and help them survive this disaster, by buying a digital download of an album from any one of the digital retailers in the UK, as well as going to their local record store whilst stocks last.
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.
Alison Wenham, Chairman and CEO of AIM, the UK’s Trade Association for the Independent Music Industry, commented: ” This is a disaster for the music community, but with the fans’ help, labels and artists will survive. Please show your support for the music community by buying a digital album from an independent label today.”
AIM Member Labels Affected Include:
Full Time Hobby
One Little Indian
Red Grape Records
Please spread the word (Twitter, Facebook etc) and get downloading… “