The rioting in London has resulted in 1,200 arrests and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, but there is one unlikely area that’s been especially hard-hit: the independent music community.
A Sony warehouse in Enfield, north London, was destroyed in a fire reportedly set by rioters. That distribution center was subcontracted by the PIAS Group, a company that distributes independent music in the UK and Ireland for more than 200 labels. At least four of those labels are Chicago-based and one is from nearby Bloomington, Ind.
Of the Chicago labels affected only Thrill Jockey and Drag City have commented on the losses they’ve sustained. Thrill Jockey label head Bettina Richards told Peter Margasak of the Chicago Reader that the label’s wholesale losses are close to £189,000 (more than $300,000). Drag City’s Brett Sova would only tell Margasak that their losses were “catastrophic.”
Bloomington, Ind.-based mega indie Secretly Canadian released a statement on their website claiming significant losses for each of their labels as well as many of the labels they distribute: Asthmatic Kitty, Lovepump United, No Quarter, Suicide Squeeze Records, Post Present Medium and We Are Free. However, the statement goes on to point out that their physical stock was dispersed around the world and the company is “healthy enough to be able to weather this unfortunate storm.”
Two other Chicago labels distributed by PIAS, Touch and Go and Victory, have been contacted for comment on the losses they sustained, though have not responded yet.
UPDATE 8/11/2011: The Guardian is reporting that a charity has been set up to raise money for the labels affected by this fire. They’re planning benefit concerts, but no Chicago events have been announced.