Britain's Independent Music Industry Collapses

The company responsible for distributing music for 400 Independent music labels in Great Britain went bankrupt on Wednesday of this past week:

The independent labels trade body Association Of Independent Music (AIM) held an emergency meeting yesterday (December 4) to discuss the bankruptcy of distribution company Pinnacle Entertainment.

As NME.COM previously reported, Pinnacle - which worked with over 400 indie labels including Rough Trade and One Little Indian - was declared bankrupt on December 3.

The company had distributed records by the likes of Morrissey, The Libertines and The Strokes.

Pinnacle describes itself thusly:

As the UK’s biggest independent distributor, Pinnacle Entertainment enjoys a unique position in the market place. Having exclusive responsibility for the sales and distribution of over 400 records labels and some of the most cutting edge DVD and software labels, Pinnacle excels in handling an enormous range of music from Katie Melua, Morrissey, Moloko, The Strokes, The Libertines, Midlake, Feeder and Tricky to classic artists such as Black Sabbath, Gary Numan, The Kinks, The Pretenders, Frank Zappa, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Small Faces, Tom Waits & Richard Thompson. The company is split into a number of divisions including Pinnacle Records, Pinnacle Software, Pinnacle Vision.

Purely from a business perspective, what happens in the British music industry isn’t that important—the music industry worldwide is in serious decline because they can’t collect the right amount of money to compensate the artists for what they make. The digital distribution of music has eliminated the need for the traditional structure of the music business. Bloated artist contracts should become a thing of the past for all but a decaying and aging few. 

Instead of getting an advance on royalties to make music, one simply needs a Mac, ProTools, and the time and effort. Once you eliminate the need for an expensive recording studio, you come to distribution and publicity—and the blogs and chat rooms and word of mouth can pick up the slack there. What a band then has to do is play live (if that’s their thing) and tour, and if a band can scale that back to a low cost effort, no more record company.

The question remains—can a group of young people make enough money to live on for five or six years doing it that way? If so, goodbye labels.