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Monday, June 24

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News Mon Feb 23 2009

Touch and Go: The Reverb

An update to last week's Touch and Go announcement: Kot and DeRo weigh in.

While the Touch and Go label is still intact, the announcement that they are ending the manufacturing and distributing side of business may have much more of an impact on the music industry than we realize. The Tribune's Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis of the Sun Times discussed the label's announcement on their respective blogs, as well as on last week's episode of Sound Opinions, raising an interesting point: This change in operations could be devastating on the independent music scene as we know it. For the past 20 years, Touch and Go provided distribution for dozens of small labels across the country, including several Chicago labels. Who do these small labels now turn to for distribution when the business of music is already under such strain financially? And what does this mean for the future of independent labels and bands? This question has been looming for quite a while, and is part of a much bigger concern in the music industry (affecting majors as well as indies) brought on by the internet and file sharing.

One of the indie labels directly affected by the news is Chicago's own Flameshovel, who has been distributed by Touch and Go since last year. "Aside from the direct affect that this news has on us and our label, it is further evidence that something is terribly terribly amiss in this industry," said Flameshovel's James Kenler. "There has been this massive consolidation at all levels that continues to push all of us to sacrifice a large part of the independent spirit that made labels like T&G as great and as successful as they were. Most of the pressure is obviously as a result of the declining value that the evolution of the internet has given both music and the printed word. File sharing and web news have pulled this industry from both sides and the fans themselves have to a large extent completely disconnected themselves from the notion that consumable art has value."

Kot and DeRogatis actually held a public forum at Columbia College in December as part of a Sound Opinions College Tour on the subject of the future of music in this uncertain time. While there is no clear answer, and they don't pretend to have the solution, the problem won't just go away. The Touch and Go casualty may be just the first rock to fall of an avalanche to come. Mac McCaughan of Merge Records (who T&G also distributed until a few years ago) reiterates the worry (and grief) in this statement given to DeRogatis:

"Touch and Go basically allowed Merge to exist as something other than a singles label...we did our first full-length (the Superchunk Tossing Seeds comp) in 1992 because Corey agreed to take on Merge as a label under the Touch and Go umbrella. We've worked with Touch and Go since then -- 16 years -- and they are the most straight-up and ass-busting-for-music-they-love people we know.

"Corey Rusk is the most meticulous, cautious, thoughtful business person I know which is what makes this whole thing so unbelievable and such a bad portent for the rest of the independent music business -- if a company that did everything the right way can't survive in this environment (and the environment existed before the current worldwide financial disaster -- the Bush economic legacy only piled on), then who can?

"This is not even to mention the fact that Touch and Go put out some records that were incredibly important to me long before Merge existed -- Big Black, Scratch Acid, Die Kreuzen, Negative Approach, Butthole Surfers, and later on Slint, Jesus Lizard and the list goes on... -- a ton of records that are just important period.

"It's a sad day for music, independent music and punk rock in particular, and the music business as we know it in the real world."

While last week's news may not foreshadow the end of the music business all together, it may signal the end as we know it today. Until a new business model comes into play and settles in (same with newspapers and other print publications), there are more tough times ahead and probably a lot more casualties.

So, what's next for Flameshovel? They "were actually assembling the press mailing for the new Mannequin Men record that was to come out via T&G June 9th" when they got the call from T&G's Corey Rusk last Tuesday. "At this point," says Kenler, "our #1 priority is to find a way to keep that release date. Beyond that, we're using this event as a chance to take a big step back and take a look at what we are doing in a larger context."

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
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Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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