Independent Label Woes

Here's the church...where are the people?

Certainly stories like this are not new, nor surprising, but they are sad nonetheless. It has become an incredibly difficult exercise to maintain a small independent label that handles several artists, although many have been fighting through the struggle because they are passionate music people at heart, not pencil pushers. 

Thanks to rampant distribution issues, viral bootlegging, the shrinking brick-and-mortar model and the collapse of the economy in general, it’s no wonder that people eventually have to fly the white flag. Or in this case, a pink one. 

For over fifteen years, Simon Felton has graced us with his Pink Hedgehog label featuring an eclectic roster of artists (including himself). But in 2010 he has come to a crossroads and has determined that the physical CD side of his business needs to shut down so he can survive as a digital label. I’ve never met Simon in person, but having dealt with him peripherally over the years I can assure you that he is a person who wants to do the best for his artists and his customers. In typical fashion, rather than blame everyone else, he feels guilty that he didn’t sell more CDs – though these matters are far beyond his control. 

I could prattle on, but I’d rather share Simon’s email with you. At the bottom of his letter is a list of titles he has in stock which he is selling for two dollars (or one pound) each to clear them out and hopefully seed the work of these artists to those who might be willing to take a chance on someone for what amounts to less money than Starbucks will charge you for coffee. So please visit the Pink Hedgehog Closing Down Sale and pick up a CD or two or three. (There are some MP3s on the Pink Hedgehog website; most of the artists should have some on their own web/MySpace/Facebook sites as well.) 

And now, here’s Simon… 

 

hello to all the friends and supporters of pink hedgehog records, 

i hope everyone is doing well, both personally and creatively… when you have a moment, please have a read through this message as it concerns the future of my little label and the steps i am taking in order to ensure its survival.  i am sure you are all aware, its incredibly hard to sell cds these days – its always been difficult of course, but now it’s almost impossible… at least that’s been my experience (i’ve never been very good at the business side of things!).  my recent stock take/accounting for my dreaded tax return has made me face up to the reality of the situation – the fact is i can’t continue with things as they stand.  here at my house i have 6088 cds as unsold stock, and together with cds in our distributors warehouse (a further 1408), we’re looking at over 7500 cds that are sat around in boxes or gathering dust here at sunnyside road.  i feel partly responsible, like i have let the artists down to some extent by not being able to sell more, but i have done my best and put all my available energy and resources into it.  the label only managed to sell a total of 375 cds in the last year… bearing in mind that’s a combined total of all artists/releases for the whole label, it’s not particularly good!  i know i should be pleased to have sold that many (and i do appreciate each and every one) but given that each new release adds (up to) another 1000 cds to the stockpile, you can see that it just doesn’t add up and no longer makes sense. 

the upshot is, there will be no more physical releases… aside from a couple of new albums that are already in production, the physical/cd side of the label will finish.   this is partly due to the costs involved in manufacturing/postage/couriers/mcps etc., but also because i don’t have any more room to put cds in my house!  i know i often joke about the floorboards in my attic buckling under the weight, but it’s not far off the truth.  i’m not a fan of downloading and if i had my way all our releases would be issued on both cd and vinyl, but it’s just not possible – the only way i can see a future for the label and a way to release new music is to accept the changing market and adapt… it’s a shame, but i’ve exhausted all other options.  even the independent distributors in the uk are now only willing to take releases if its backed up with a decent promotion/marketing budget (around £1500 i’m told for a basic package) or guaranteed high profile radio/glossy interest.  much of the stock held by our main uk/european distributor has been (or will be) returned to me in the near future.  the chains/stores (like HMV) that used to list our releases and make them available to order online will apparently only continue to list those which sell a minimum number of copies through that site per month – this will result in the majority of the back catalogue no longer being visible. 

i am hoping this will encourage people to turn to the true independent distributors and retailers and give much needed business for the people that deserve it the most.  with this in mind i am having a final closing down sale in an effort to clear some of the stock and keep the releases available through the underground/alternative network that inspired me to start the label in the first place.  i appreciate this email is far longer than it needed to be and i don’t want it to be interpreted as a loss of enthusiasm or motivation… i’m still as committed as ever; i’m doing what i can to preserve the label and make sure it has a future – i believe the music we put out is superb, but these days it doesn’t seem to mean a great deal in terms of sales.  i hope most of this makes sense and i would certainly appreciate your comments, suggestions and feedback… just in case there are things i haven’t considered.  in the meantime, enjoy your weekend and please PLEASE please consider buying some of our wonderful jewel-cased gems that need to be enjoyed and treasured! 

given that i am selling all the releases at around cost (or sometimes less than cost) prices, i will need to add postage to the order, but only what the post office charge me… i may  be be able to make some allowances for larger orders if it means getting the music out there and reaching people. 

thanks for sticking with me, please do get in touch with any questions, take care, simon. 

ALL OF THESE CDS ARE JUST ONE POUND (£1.00) EACH or TWO DOLLARS ($2.00) if you prefer! 

Anton Barbeau “Waterbugs & Beetles” 2005 CD (10th anniversary edition, new artwork) 100+ IN STOCK 

Anton Barbeau “Drug Free” 2006 CD (4 Star **** review in Sunday Times) 100+ IN STOCK 

Anton Barbeau “Plastic Guitar” 2009 CD (Anton’s 13th and latest album) 100+ IN STOCK 

The Bitter Little Cider Apples “Still” 2002 CD (Debut from legendary Dorset garage band) 100+ IN STOCK 

The Black Watch “The Innercity Garden EP” 2005 CD (Feat. exclusive tracks) 85 IN STOCK 

The Black Watch “The Hypnotizing Sea” 2005 CD (Intelligent Californian pop) 100+ IN STOCK 

Cheese “Enlarge Your Johnson” 2005 CD (Sophisticated power pop sequel) 60 IN STOCK 

Simon Felton “Symmetry” 2008 CD-R (Electronic pop tunes and ballads) 10 IN STOCK 

Simon Felton “Failing In Biology” 2009 CD (Proper debut) 100+ IN STOCK 

Freak Circus “Freak Shall Inherit The Earth” 2007 CD (Punk pop debut) 100+ IN STOCK 

Garfields Birthday “Mr Newton EP” 2005 CD (Dandyland Records, 5 trks) 100+ IN STOCK 

Garfields Birthday “Let Them Eat Cake” 2008 CD (Indie/power pop) 100+ IN STOCK 

Hamfatter “Girls In Graz” 2006 CD (Deleted album, feat. the no.3 Austrian hit) 100+ IN STOCK 

Hamfatter “Sziget (We Get Wrecked)” 2007 CD (Deleted UK chart single, 2 trks) 100+ IN STOCK 

Hamfatter “What Part Of Hamfatter Do You Not Understand?” 2007 CD (Deleted/original digipak version) 100+ IN STOCK 

Hamfatter “Do Something Stupid Tonight” 2008 CD (Unreleased, 4 trk EP) 60 IN STOCK 

The Inexperienced “The Inexperienced” 2010 CD (Superb Electrasy-related debut) 62 IN STOCK 

Peter Lacey “Thru A Glass Brightly” CD 2001 (Beach Boys inspired pop) 67 IN STOCK 

Peter Lacey “Anderida” CD 2003 (More Brian Wilson/Beach Boys harmonies!) 100+ IN STOCK 

Peter lacey “Songs From A Loft” CD 2005 (Peter’s 3rd album of chamber pop) 100+ IN STOCK 

Peter Lacey “Permanent Wave” 2006 Limited CD-R (In plastic wallet) 17 IN STOCK 

Mondo Jet Set “Girl Action” 2009 Limited Vinyl Replica CD-R (Stunning new album) 5 IN STOCK 

Schnauser “Kill All Humans” 2006 CD-R(Psych-pop, handmade/numbered in plastic wallet) 4 IN STOCK 

Steve Wilson “Steppin’ It Up A Notch” 2002 CD (Dylan/Randy Newman style pop debut) 53 IN STOCK 

Steve Wilson “Sideshows And Fairytales” 2007 CD (2nd album of heartfelt pop) 30 IN STOCK 

Various Artists “Pink Hedgehog Incident” 1996 CD (Early Weymouth band comp.) 50 IN STOCK 

Various Artists “Ear Candy” 1999 CD (16 trk comp. with Cheese/Garfields/Lucky Bishops) 45 IN STOCK 

 

Pink Hedgehog website 

Pink Hedgehog on MySpace

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2 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Music, Reviews

2 responses to “Independent Label Woes

  1. PH is a fine label and Simon is a nice guy. (Being one of the few who champions the work of Anton Barbeau automatically puts him in with the angels.) I hope the label lives on, even if it’s only in digital form.

  2. Amen to what Mr. Toland said. I’ve known Simon as a gentleman’s gentleman & as passionate about music as anyone I’ve ever “met” via cyberspaceways. A digital Pink Hedgehog is far better than no Hedgehog at all!

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