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Flameshovel figures out a post-Touch and Go future

As you may have heard on Wednesday, independent music label and distributor Touch and Go announced they're scaling back their operations. The Chicago operation has been an integral part of the independent music industry for more than 25 years. While some Touch and Go staff are being laid off, the biggest change is the end of Touch and Go serving as a distributor for 22 smaller independent labels.
Flameshovel Records is one of those labels also based in Chicago. I spoke with James Kenler from Flameshovel to find out what this means for them. He said they just started officially working with Touch and Go in September and losing that relationship "really sucks." But what the heck does a distributor do? Here's James' explanation: audio1 Did you hear that last bit? He said Touch and Go fronted them money for making their products. So losing that relationship is kind of like losing a big investor or losing a line of credit with a bank. But that's not all! James again: audio2 Remember when Bell's Brewery pulled out of Illinois for a year because they didn't want to be handled by a large distributor? James says labels like Flameshovel have similar concerns going with large distributors. Unfortunately that's where the industry is heading. James says there are a lot of indicators that could have an effect on the type of music that makes it to market: audio3 James told me one of the reasons they were excited to work with T&G was that they shared a musical aesthetic. In many ways, they'd just begun working with their heroes.‚  Now Flameshovel needs to find another model for their business. audio4 Flameshovel and 21 other labels will now have their work cut out to fill the distribution void.

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