Indie isn’t doing too well right now. It’s in a weird in between and doesn’t seem like it will be getting better anytime soon. It seems that the technology that initially raised indie to mass audiences (digital downloads and the like) is forcing it to stay obscure.
Touch and Go are massive. Not only has the record label produced some of the most well known indie bands of this decade - !!!, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tv on the Radio - or last decade with Shellac, Slint, Rodan, whatever - they also have their tentacles in the distribution of an obscenely large amount of other indies. They provide distribution to Merge (Arcade Fire, Conor Oberst), Thrill Jockey (The Sea and Cake, David Byrne, Fiery Furnaces), Drag City(Silver Jews, Stereolab, Pavement), Kill Rock Stars (Deerhoof, Marnie Stern, Xiu Xiu), and on and on, with smaller indie labels as well like Lovepump LTD (HEALTH, Crystal Castles) and Swim Slowly (The Robot Ate Me).
I understand why they have to shut down, but this seems pretty serious. Thoughts?
This is sad news; the label has done a lot of good work over the years, and I suppose we should be glad that it’s not being forced to shut its doors entirely. But with the democratization of production and distribution technology, I suppose we shouldn’t be particularly surprised at this.
I need someone to define “indie music” first. Somehow I don’t think it means what some people (like me) would suspect-i.e. a very broad umbrella for any minor-label bands of all sorts, vs. a rather narrowly defined genre. I know at one time it meant the former, I don’t think it does now…
Tough and Go is considered massive? I only have one of their albums because of that song “Would You…?” I only thought of it as a cute novelty song, even though I like a couple of other songs. Hey, who knew, I’m cutting edge!
I can’t imagine that distro-ing other labels is that much of a moneymaker. I think the quote from the Sleater Kinney chick is illuminating. I have certain labels that have plenty of bands that I think are great, but I don’t feel the need to have any sort of relationship with the label when I can download the music and support the band directly by seeing them live and buying merch directly from them (not to mention that I probably haven’t purchased a new CD in nearly 3 years). Unless they offer limited edition vinyl, these labels are just as vulnerable to illegal downloading (if not more so) as the major labels are. The whole concept of a large indie label or company doing distro for a bunch of tiny labels may be an outdated mode of business.