When the owner of their indie distributor turned out to be missing in action, three indie labels took the unprecedented steps of taking over the company.
As part of that move, boutique distributor, Independent Record Collective in Richmond, VA., will be renamed Independent Label Distribution on Monday, Sept. 19.
In a defensive move because they feared their distributor was about to financially collapse, the owners of Frontier Records, the Sun Valley, Calif.-based whose catalog includes titles from the Circle Jerks, the Long Ryders, Redd Kross, Suicidal Tendencies and Three O'Clock; Beer City Records, the Milwaukee-based label whose catalog includes titles from D.R.I. also known as the Dirty Rotten Imbiciles; and Tribunal Records, the Greensboro, N.C. label whose catalog includes titles from Killwhitneydead; took over management of Independent Record Collective a few months back.
That company had been formed back in 2009 out of the ashes of Lumberjack, when it suddenly shuttered, leaving its labels in the lurch.
At that time, Lumberjack employee Jason White managed to get some labels' product out of the Lumberjack warehouse in Richmond and moved it to Richmond, Va., where he built the new company, Independent Record Collective. At first, things were running smoothly with the labels getting paid and product shipping, but then White allegedly started going missing in action, according to Frontier Records owner Lisa Fancher, who never mentioned the distribution owner by name while talking to Billboard.
White could not be reached for comment
After four months of trying to reach White, many of the distributed labels were looking to leave, Fancher says, and if this distributor went down, it would be one-too-many shuttered distributors to bear. She says that over the 30 years Frontier, which is not to be confused with the Italian record label Frontiers, has been in operation, she has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of distributors going out of business.
So Francher along with Beer City owner Mike Beer and Tribunal owner Matt Rudzinski stepped up to the plate to assume management of the company, rather than let it go down, getting White to sign off on it.
"We said, we can't go through this again so we decided to take it over," Fancher relates. "Also, this way we don't have to go look for another distributor."
Moreover, Fancher says the owners are not just doing it to save themselves, but also want to help the other labels survive, too.
So they began re-signing the labels, landing 21 of the 30 labels that had been with Independent Record Collective, including Sympathy for the Record Industry, Corrosive Recordings and Cavity Records. Distributed titles of the company includes albums and singles from artist like the Bouncing Souls, Cannibal Corpse, Naked Raygun, Hole, Rocket From the Crypt, Turbonegro and the Weirdos.
The three record label executives also began contacting accounts that owe the distributor money, and took over the company's financial books.
By making collections from accounts, they have been able to disburse payments to labels, even to those imprints that have left, working toward getting everyone paid up to date, Fancher said.
While the employees in the warehouse are getting paid, the three record label executives say they are not taking a cent in salary.