Firefighters battle a massive blaze at the Sony distribution centre in Waltham Abbey, north of London. Violence escalated across London and at least three other cities August 9 as police fought thousands of rioters and looters and Prime Minister David Cameron headed back to Britain to face the crisis. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
On August 9th, 2011, the third day of rioting across England, a Sony/PIAS warehouse burned in the dark hours of the morning. Sony/PIAS is the largest music distributor for the UK and Ireland, servicing over 150 independent labels. The warehouse stocked these labels' CDs and LPs, in some cases their entire catalogs, now all lost with the flames. For the larger and elder labels, such as Warp Records, classic albums were destroyed and no plans as of yet are made to re-press them. For the younger, smaller labels, the damage to their revenue is near irreparable. Beggars Group lost their entire stock, a total of 750,000 albums. Too many labels will die along with their stock, unable to recoup the financial loss. Too many albums will exist as digital files, never again held by the hands of an adoring fan. This catastrophe to an already suffering industry cannot go ignored. You - the fan, the listener, the free-mp3-downloader - must help those labels affected, and it is easy to do so: buy music. Digital and direct from the label is the fastest way to help. LabelLove, a campaign set up for this cause, created a spreadsheet detailing every label and artist effected with links to purchase tunes. Here's what you should do: open the document, CTRL+F/CMD+F to search for the first band to pop into your head, click on their website, and go right to the online store. Wez, the director of Full Time Hobby (a label we featured earlier this month), spoke to the Guardian on the severity of the situation: "Not only did we lose our entire stock, we've also lost our entire distribution network, which means we can suffer the effects of the first for eight to nine months." For labels such as Full Time Hobby that sign album-oriented musicians with a fan base committed to the physical product, the time and cost needed to re-produce the burnt units is insurmountable. All this week, MP3.com will spotlight some of the labels affected by the fire and give away free downloads with the hope that you will in turn enjoy the music enough to purchase. First, we'd like to re-direct you to our feature on Full Time Hobby, a criminally underrated label with a roster of stellar bands including [mp3com-artist]White Denim[/mp3com-artist], [mp3com-artist]Fujiya & Miyagi[/mp3com-artist], and [mp3com-artist]School of Seven Bells[/mp3com-artist]. Read more and download plenty here, then go purchase music direct from FTH here.