Saturday, May 06, 2006

My First "Guest Blogger"

Kelley at Kelley's Market helps my label with some mom and pop retail store relationships.
He sets up retail programs and keeps them updated with label information, tour dates, etc. As the former head of retail for Initial Records, he has a great background in DIY. During our semi-weekly catch-up call he read me part of an email he sent to a friend concerning the current state of independent distribution. It goes along with the whole concept of "bigness" I wrote about a few posts ago.

It's fairly recent, 6 or 7 years ago, when every label felt the burning need for exclusive distribution. Prior to that many strong labels did it for themselves, with the help of some indie distributors and a few key one-stops. I think it's time for some labels to return to doing a bulk of the distribution themselves. Get rid of the middleman, build a personal relationship with the stores, do it diy and get a direct flow of cash for your troubles, plus you'll know what works and what doesn't and there'll be less finger pointing.

Until a distribution business steps up and does it punk rock again, by carrying good releases, building a direct relationship with indie stores, and practicing fair "we're in this together" business practices, this current business model of distribution is only going to get worse. EVERYONE is joining the corporate team all of a sudden, and the corporate team is only going to take care of their corporation. The indie is going to get fucked everytime. I just do not believe good indie stores won't stock quality independent releases and that people won't buy quality records.

I do believe large distributors with a corporate model are going to ensure they pay you the least they possibly can, and charge [the label back] for every service they can possibly tack on, and possibly pad it with returns #'s that you will never know is true or not, because they are housed at a warehouse that you may never see. Once you can't take it anymore, somebody else is waiting right behind you. How do you change it? I believe all it takes is a phone call and creating a relationship. Remember punk rock can be a community.
All you label cats out there- how do you feel about distribution?

3 comments:

Dave K. said...

here...here...I cannot understand in this day and (internet) age why more labels are just selling the records direct. Practically every label can get their own website with e-commerce, sell their records on other sites, etc...etc...with minimal distribution from other sources. even the smallest label can set up shipping in their own place with the varieties of easy to use shipping software. get your mailers, tape and print the labels (barcoded) and drop off the finished product at the post office. Waiting on line is a thing of the past. If you have a huge amount of product to move, it still wouldn't take much more time. You are still going to do the advertising and everything else, you are just going to cut out the middleman, get your cash faster and increase the profit margins...which in turn allows you to put out records faster. my two cents Dave K.

Dave K. said...

oops...I meant "why labels aren't selling"...

KOI Records said...

as a fairly new label - this is some of the best advice i think i've received. at koi records we have targeting the small, but passionate vinyl market but despite some incredible releases haven't had much distro success. with releases in hand, we were very much under the impression that it was a 'distro or die' world out there and as i had received no responses to my multiple requests to distros, i started to wonder if koi records was doomed? well, having read this blog and talking with friends at other labels i feel more postive about the future. so, it is with a renewed sense of urgency that i will skirt around the torrid world of the middleman and sell my wares the indie way - thru hardwork and networking.
cheers for this informative blog bill - blackout records rules!