Last week Lookout! Records President Chris Appelgren announced on the label's website that the seminal Berkeley, Calif.-based punk rock label had completely closed shop and will no longer keep their catalog in print or have it available on digital services like Spotify and iTunes.
"We considered all options but kept coming back to realization that the best use of our energies would be to shut the doors once and for all," wrote Appelgren, "for the legacy of the label, for the bands, and for benefit of the relationships and friendships with artists, partners, and stakeholders. After some soul searching, that's what we decided to do."
The label, strongly rooted in DIY ethos that picked up much of its roster from the legendary venue 924 Gilman Street, made its break with the signing of Green Day, whose release of "1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours" and "Kerplunk" allowed the independent label to boast a $10 million in sales at its peak in 1995. according to a report by the East Bay Express.
Co-founder Larry Livermore, who left Lookout! in 1997, tweeted on Friday that "Requiem for a dream? Or just time to say goodbye to something that really ended a long time ago?"
The East Bay Express story also reported that Lookout! ceased releasing any new material towards the tail end of 2005, after a series of bands, including Operation Ivy, Screeching Weasel, Avail, Blatz, and Filth, rescinded the rights to the masters as a result of complicated royalty arrangements.
The biggest blow came when Green Day disputed its unpaid royalties. The band legally pulled their back catalogue, causing the label to spiral into fiscal distress and the cutting of six of their nine employees.
Green Day has since licensed their first two albums to their current label, Reprise Records. The band, who according to their publicist are currently "writing their album," were unavailable for comment.
For the rest of Lookout!'s repertoire, "Inventory, masters, artwork - that's all going back to the artists… Our efforts to close out Lookout's remaining business reflect the same intentions we've had for the past few years - to do the best we can by the bands. It's our hope that this could be an opportunity for the artists themselves to revisit their Lookout releases, with interesting and cool results," Appelgren continued, "It's time to let Lookout Records really and truly become history."