Touched and Went.
February 18, 2009 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Such a bummer.
posted by tiger yang at 11:00 AM on February 18, 2009

posted by joe lisboa at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2009

Touch and Go also manufactured releases for these labels. The full list is:
5, Rue Christine
All Natural
Drag City
Emperor Jones
Jade Tree
In The Fishtank
Kill Rock Stars
Le Tigre Recordings
Merge Records
Overcoat Recordings
Pretty Activity
Post Present Medium
Record Label
Suicide Squeeze
Trance Syndicate
Warm Electronic Recordings

Some are fairly small, others are pretty major in the indie rock world. I'm sure there are plenty of manufacturing and distribution companies who would love to pick up these labels, though they might not get the same name recognition and support as was available from TnG.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:09 AM on February 18, 2009 Touch and Go. Between Merge, Matador and Touch and Go I've never been disappointed when looking for new music.
posted by spicynuts at 11:10 AM on February 18, 2009

Wow. Ditto what spicynuts said and add Kill Rock Stars to the list of labels that hardly disappoints. This sucks.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:14 AM on February 18, 2009

This is really sad. Most of those labels were a perfect fit with T&G and have definitely become a major part of T&G's identity over the years. I hope those other labels can either make it alone or find another decent fit. Those labels really were treated like family like at T&G, so I'm sure it couldn't have been an easy decision to make.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:20 AM on February 18, 2009

Hmm, retail distribution?

Put up a website, Give me three tracks for free, three more for my email address, then offer me the remaining tracks for five bucks, and I'll be happy to download your recording from your website, and you can email me about your next release.
posted by orthogonality at 11:23 AM on February 18, 2009

> Touch and Go also manufactured releases for these labels. The full list is:...

Man, that represents somewhere between a third and a half of my music collection. This is a blow.

> ...stories that "Touch and Go is gone are not true."

Well, at least that made me smile. I hope everybody named can weather this storm.
posted by ardgedee at 11:24 AM on February 18, 2009

somehow I blame The Butthole Surfers.
posted by shmegegge at 11:27 AM on February 18, 2009 [5 favorites]

Boo. Touch and Go bands were the core of the soundtrack to my college years.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 11:29 AM on February 18, 2009

Boo. This sucks.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:32 AM on February 18, 2009

Ortho it's called emusic. Touch and Go jumped on emusic early on.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2009

This is stultifying to me, absolutely impossible for me to wrap my head around.

When I was growing up in the midwest, the T&G catalog was like the bible to me. I learned how to listen to and how to make music from buying those albums. Occasionally, a T&G release was an event, like when Terraform came out. My friend Michael and I made dupe copies on our walkmen, did robitussen and skulked around the woods in the dark in honor of that album's release.

And of course, they reissued the Chrome albums, which absolutely changed my life.

The fact that Drag City releases will be harder to get ahold of is also a huge blow. They will be missed deeply.
posted by orville sash at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by orville sash at 11:33 AM on February 18, 2009

Oh, dear.

When I was a buyer at a record store. Touch & Go was one of my favorite companies to work with. They were nice people, not just distributors of great music.

This is terrible for the traditional retail side of indie music distribution, but with the retailers themselves dropping like flies, walking into a store and coming out with a stack of CDs has its days numbered anyway. And if any segment of the industry is well-positioned to use alternative methods to get their music into our hands, it's this one.
posted by padraigin at 11:43 AM on February 18, 2009

It is sad that yet another music distributor is going out of business, but at least the business entity is around to pay the bills, while so many enterprises that went bankrupt ended up owing thousands to labels that never got paid and also folded as a result. At least I HOPE they pay the bills. If not, fuck 'em.
posted by mkb at 11:47 AM on February 18, 2009

I wish I was cool enough to know a lot about this.
posted by zpousman at 11:49 AM on February 18, 2009

Mac, a proprietor of Merge, Superchunk & Portastatic guitarist/songwriter/singer, all around cool dude, says:
Touch and Go used to manufacture and distribute Merge full-length releases, but in recent times has just distributed and we took over the manufacturing ourselves, so this won't affect our new release schedule.

still, it is quite a sad day -- Touch and Go essentially allowed Merge to exist for a long time and allowed us to put out albums when we were just a singles label. not to mention that they are great people. and not to mention they put out some really important records.
Merge is the label here that I realistically care most about, but I haven't bought anything from them in a store in, well, years. Emusic, as the man says, has been the way for me.

Still, obviously, a bummer. A bummer so obvious and inevitable it must've been visible from space, but a bummer nonetheless.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:53 AM on February 18, 2009

I wish I was cool enough to know a lot about this.

What the fuck does that even mean?
posted by eyeballkid at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2009

I wish I was cool enough to know a lot about this.

Wish yourself a few hours to go listen to all the free music on those record labels' websites. Guaranteed you will find music to love. And then you're cool enough.

I'm hoping this won't be as big a blow to these labels as it would be to the majors if one of their distributors went belly-up. lumpenrole's right—these are the labels that could see hardship coming and took steps (emusic, vinyl revival, web releases, music videos, etc.) to ensure their continued ability to release and distribute music independently.
posted by carsonb at 12:00 PM on February 18, 2009

Well that blows. I guess it's better than hearing that they plan on closing up shop completely, but making Drag City stuff that much harder to find? Boo.

Did anyone else get to go to the big T&G 25th anniversary/Hideout Block Party? That was one of the best things ever. And, I got to give Enon cookies.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 12:00 PM on February 18, 2009

For those who like physical releases, InSound might be what you want. From my quick test, they seem to carry a number of these labels now, and I don't think they'd stop (plus they support vinyl). Also, I don't think any brick-and-mortar indie music store would not carry some of the 23 smaller label's material if they had to do distribution themselves, though they might not get the shame treatment as when they were coming through TnG. I'm just guessing, but I think the hardest thing for these labels would be to find someone else to do the manufacturing and distribution. New pressing plants mean re-negotiation, and distribution can be done alone or through another company, which all boils down to less time given to making records and signing bands.

Indie labels rarely make much money, so I'm sure Touch and Go was a good deal. You got a lot of support for little money, maybe less than hiring someone to do all the legwork for you. Good luck to these labels - I'd hate to have Touch and Go's cutbacks result in the death of any of the labels. They aren't like the bloated mega-corps with a lot of overhead, from what I've seen. If it doesn't work out, hopefully David Byrne's survival strategies will work.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:02 PM on February 18, 2009

This is a very interesting post by someone on the electrical studio forum:

""Distributor" is sort of a misnomer for companies like T&G, Southern, Secretly Canadian, etc. These companies arrange for manufacture (aka production), storage and sales (to actual distributors in the classic sense, as well as direct store accounts) of most if not all labels in their stables (generally termed "P(roduction) & D(istribution)" deals). Sometimes promotional work, too, if this has been negotiated.

This will vary by label, and a label -- say, Merge -- will sometimes decide to no longer have new releases run through their distributor (T&G) for manufacture (P), but will still have those albums sold via T&G (D) (in addition to the label's own developing direct sales accounts.) This happens when a label feels it can take on staff to do production chores itself, and/or has had some big sellers and wants to capitalize on future releases by those bigger bands via doing things in-house as much as possible (thereby avoiding paying the whole P&D cut to T&G). Arcade Fire and Spoon are examples of bands for which it makes financial sense for Merge to handle things themselves. This is great for Merge, but shitty for T&G who earlier provided crucial help to get Merge to the point of such success.

A distributor in the classic sense -- say, Revolver -- will sometimes do a little P&D (for example, Siltbreeze, I think) but will mainly just buy stock from a bunch of labels and sell it directly to shops (typically many more labels than can be accommodated in a P&D situation, since so much less work is involved).

In any case, what ails T&G's distribution business is surely troublesome for other companies doing similar work. So Southern or SC will experience the same crisis, I predict. Revolver types may fare better."

Full thread here.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:05 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I wish I was cool enough to know a lot about this.

I think you meant to type:

Is this something I'd have to have ears to care about?

posted by Dr-Baa at 12:05 PM on February 18, 2009

The entire staff of 20 was laid off. Seems like T&G will be doing more than a little re-organizing.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:09 PM on February 18, 2009

Ouch! This is going to be quite the blow.
posted by teamparka at 12:16 PM on February 18, 2009

I will play my old Necros and Meatmen records in tribute. Very sad.
posted by cazoo at 12:16 PM on February 18, 2009

This is indeed a huge bummer.

The T&G catalog was part of my formative teenaged years (Girls Against Boys, how I loved thee), and I certainly wouldn't be where I sit today: Without T&G, my bosses wouldn't have been inspired to start the record label where I've been lucky enuff to work the past 5 yrs.
posted by pfafflin at 12:21 PM on February 18, 2009

Did anyone else get to go to the big T&G 25th anniversary/Hideout Block Party?

Yes! It was the greatest moment of my life, maybe second only to getting married, and I am totally not kidding.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:23 PM on February 18, 2009

Rats. I loved 1980s T&G back in the day, especially Big Black, and their distrib helped out Drag City and other favorite labels immensely.

[spins first Die Kreuzen LP]
posted by porn in the woods at 12:25 PM on February 18, 2009

Nthing the comments about that list including most of the labels that put out my whole record collection. It bears pointing out, for the cynics out there who seem to relish the demise of any record label "on principle": not every record label is a big bad corporate ogre. Many labels start as intense labors of love, and are built up solely by creative and talented people who are personally invested in them over many, many years. Some indie labels have sparked whole new subcultures and even musical genres (Dischord, K, Kill Rock Stars, 4AD, Sub Pop, Kindercore, etc., etc.): Record labels can be valuable in themselves, dammit. That too often gets glossed over in these discussions: Despite the negative perceptions so many of us now have at least partly as a result of the dominance of the Big Three monopoly, record labels themselves can be and often have been a positive creative force in the world.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:56 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Re: all this talk about emusic... Without actually having inside information on the arrangements, I always had assumed that a huge number of indie labels could be found on emusic because the big indie distros like Touch & Go, Revolver, Caroline, et al had deals with emusic, not because the labels themselves were dealing with emusic directly.

And I remember asking friends a few years ago about how their records got onto emusic and them having no idea what I was talking about. (And... it probably goes without saying, not making any money at all from online distribution.)
posted by cobra libre at 1:11 PM on February 18, 2009

Boo. This sucks.

this does suck. strong temptation to spend money via the internet.
fighting powerful urge to get this music for free.. these labels are too good..
fuck it. i'm 'donating' $4 to Ted Leo.
posted by minimalmark at 1:31 PM on February 18, 2009

Cobra, that's bad management. Usually the label handles putting stuff up on emusic, itunes, etc. but it's all in the agreements, and it should be reflected in the statements they get.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:32 PM on February 18, 2009

Is this going to effect emusic? I don't have any downloads left for this month, but there are songs from those labels that I was planning on getting at a later date.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2009

cobra libre: there are digital retail distributors that work with labels, just like there are physical retail distributors. but labels can also deal with the retailers directly. even cdbaby offers digital distribution with emusic. it's not just some corporate scam. i doubt your friends weren't getting their cut of any earnings. more likely, there just weren't really any significant sales. on the whole, people aren't buying good music anymore. they just fucking aren't buying it. the only crap people still buy is the worst of the crap out there (IMO), crap that's sponsored by companies who make cell phones to push their products in music videos or that's written by major label executives using market analysis. because most people will just buy whatever they're most often told to buy.

in 2008, according to sales figures presented at the NAMM conference, only three new indie releases out of some tens of thousands tracked sold more than 300,000 copies in any form. of the remainder, about 80 percent sold fewer than 100 copies. The rest averaged sales of about 2,000. That's not enough to make making records worth doing even just for the love of it, in most cases, because eventually you'd just go broke.

man, this news is depressing. anyone know if they distributed absolutely kosher, too?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2009

effect? I have been grading papers all morning, so I don't know what's right anymore.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:38 PM on February 18, 2009

Aww. One of the reasons my friend's band signed with T&G was the distribution—T&G really could get you into any record store you wanted to be in.

And a distributor folding was essentially the end of one of my favorite labels, Bulb.
posted by klangklangston at 1:42 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

big boo.
posted by brevator at 1:55 PM on February 18, 2009

betweenthebars: it's doubtful there'd be an effect. the information on their site seems to suggest they only provide physical retail distribution services to the labels they distribute. my band had physical distribution through nail/revolver/allegro for our first record, but it was these guys who handled digital distribution for the record. but our label at the time set all that stuff up. that's how our album ended up on emusic. so in all likelihood, those labels work directly with another digital retail distribution service.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:09 PM on February 18, 2009

over the top

This is bullshit.
posted by gcbv at 3:11 PM on February 18, 2009

I've got my Bikini Kill albums on loop in mourning.
posted by cerulgalactus at 6:23 PM on February 18, 2009


posted by defenestration at 10:30 PM on February 18, 2009

Can I disbelieve?


pretty please?

[weeps softly]
posted by nulledge at 11:47 PM on February 18, 2009

So, any insiders out there know if this was due to the sucktastic economy, or just, ya know, hanging up the John Deere cap after decades of helping out great bands?

Or a combination of both?
posted by bardic at 1:45 AM on February 19, 2009

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