Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recession Hits Indie Label Touch & Go

I'm reading some mixed accounts today about changes taking place at prominent independent record label Touch & Go. They're reducing staff, cutting off their production and distribution deals with indie labels, and will stop releasing new music (for the time being). According to a CMJ piece today:

"Following online rumors, long-time indie mainstay Touch & Go has confirmed that it will cease releasing new albums and become a catalog only label. The Chicago label that that has produced seminal albums from Slint, the Jesus Lizard, Big Black, TV On The Radio, Shellac and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and later garnering fame for its losing copyright lawsuit over a "handshake" deal with the Butthole Surfers, has met its demise after nearly 30 years. The label, who's recent roster includes Ted Leo, the Uglysuit and All The Saints had seen financial trouble amidst a difficult economy and a decline in record sales.

Promotion for new acts such as Sholi and Mi Ami, who both released their debut albums today, will be kept up for a short time as not to leave the new bands without a paddle. The label is expected to go catalog-only, however, the distribution side has been shut down and the label will not produce new music. An unspecified number of layoffs will occur."

An article on Pitchfork clarifies that Touch & Go is actually hoping to release new music again in the future and also will still produce some projects already in the works. The article states:

"It's a very, very sad day for indie rock. One of America's foremost independent record labels, Touch and Go Records, has announced that they will no longer release new music.

They have also shuttered their distribution arm, which manufactured and brought to market releases for labels like Merge, Kill Rock Stars, Drag City, Suicide Squeeze, Flameshovel, Jade Tree, and Post Present Medium.

From Big Black and Shellac to Butthole Surfers and the Jesus Lizard, from Dirty Three and Pinback to Ted Leo and TV on the Radio, from Calexico to the Mekons to Slint, Touch and Go nurtured the careers of so many bands that served as backbones for indie rock. They even boasted a promising crop of new bands, with recent releases from Crystal Antlers, Mi Ami, All the Saints, and Sholi.

Crystal Antlers' Tentacles, slated for release on April 7, will still come out. They also plan to go through with a series of Jesus Lizard reissues in August, as well as a Jesus Lizard 7" box set release for Record Store Day..."

I'm sure the ramifications of this announcement will be huge and I hope that the indie labels that Touch & Go works will be OK. It's pretty scary to see the economy taking its toll on indie culture, so please do what you can to help support these bands and labels.

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