Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Danielle Goldstein, Tshepo Mokoena, Reuters
04 Sunday 04th September 2011
If you missed the news in all the Blackberry-tarnishing and 'mindless violence' labelling of last month's riots, the independent music industry took quite a blow over those few turbulent days. It was not because youths were raiding Rough Trade stores all over the city for limited edition vinyl, but due to a fire that tragically engulfed the contents of the entire Sony DADC (Digital Audio Disc Corporation)/PIAS warehouse in Enfield.
Scores of indie record labels saw their whole stored stock go up in flames, but in no time at all two music lovers in the industry started the LabelLove campaign to counter as much of the damage as possible. We chart the brief history of the campaign, and take a look at how we can all get stuck in and show some love for the labels that have soundtracked our parties, make-outs and intense deadline-meeting fevers.
Firefighters tackling the blaze in August
When a fire was started in Enfield's PIAS warehouse late on Monday August 8th, the stock of over two hundred indie labels turned to ash and smoke in a matter of hours. As is often the case with smaller labels, cashflow tends to be a pretty close balance between ingoing and outgoing funds so quite a few of the labels will be struggling to make up for lost material in the coming months.
That's where Dan Salter and Hannah Morgan entered the equation. With Salter's 20 years of experience in music event organisation and Morgan's current involvement in a band, music journalism and London's live scene they both felt enough of a closeness to the labels affected to start the campaign. Since its gestation, LabelLove has sought to be a site for crowdsourced knowledge on the full scale of the fire's devastation as well as a positive force organising fundraising events in several cities around the UK.
Thanks to Sean Adams (founder of Drowned in Sound), Guardian Music researchers and the Record Label Love 'hacktivity' site, a massive list of all the labels and artists affected by the blaze is available for download here. Labels like Warp, XL Recordings, Subpop, Rough Trade, Brighton's Sunday Best, Big Dada, Secret Canadian and Domino are just some of the bigger names hit by the blaze.
Overall about 3.25 million CDs, exclusive box sets and vinyl packages were destroyed, with the impact enough to force smaller labels to go under completely. Artists and label founders are urging fans to invest in the music they love to help keep their favourite tune providers afloat but it's still too soon to measure how much of an impact sales have had on re-building losses.
Suuns, one of the Secret Candian signings affected
So what now? Less than a month after the arson attack, LabelLove have already teamed up with Priceminister, the Old Blue Last (with Ghosting Season and excellent London producer My Panda Shall Fly) and Irish label Rubyworks to offer discounts on PIAS-stock label releases, run fundraising nights and inspire fans to grab mp3 downloads of their favourite PIAS label acts in light of their losses.
Cloud Control, an Infectious Recordings signing affected
In fact tonight (Monday September 5th) LabelLove are running a Wilkommen Collective Records showcase night of live music at the Silver Bulletin to wihp up some more funds. Although a loan system between PIAS and the Association of Independent Music (AIM) has been agreed, the money from LabelLove's Paypal donation account and any profits from its events goes towards the various labels as a grant, in proportion to the amount of their stock devastated by the fire.
PIAS and Sony have already shifted distribution to a space in Hertfordshire, in association with Proper, and have got the cogs turning again as of August 22nd. All in all, it's becoming one of the most interesting and valid donation efforts we've come across on English soil for quite some time. We'll be keeping an eye on the story over at LabelLove via Twitter and letting you know of other London developments.
In the meantime if you're a bit of a dab hand at coding and the like, get involved with Record Label Love. They'll be coming out with more hactivity challenges, designed to develop ways to get people to interact with Pias-distributed music online as much as possible.
LabelLove can be found on Twitter, Facebook and their own site.

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