Saturday, August 13, 2011

Don't worry about the warehouse, apparently

There's a long and interesting post from Alexei out of Johnny Foreigner on the PIAS fire and, to a greater extent, why they don't need your help:

this is the same industry that brought you "return to live aid". nothing drives sales better than a palatable tragedy, the only exception here is this tragedy is somewhat exaggerated for dramatic purpose. You know the warehouse was insured right? I didn't, i had to use the google, and 5 pages later i found someone who wasn't alec empire referring to it.

so eventually, all them records will be paid for. losses compensated. I'm not saying that there won't be huge logistical problems and dashed dreams occurring as a result of product loss and the time insurance companies will take to settle, but all the claims of "disaster! label x looses £x000 of stock" are pretty disingenuous. The industry has a chance here to convert thousands of unsold cds into digital sales, and they're gunning for it, they're just leaving the "insured against fire" part out.
This is right, of course, there is insurance. But is there anything more soulless than someone who surveys the loss of a massive part of someone's business, shrugs and says "well, at least you've got insurance."

Yeah, possibly everything was insured. Although who knows what the exclusions, and the excesses, and how long its going to take for money to come through? Larger labels might be able to cope, but if you're a smaller label which runs on fumes for the back end of the month, losing so much of your stock in one go could push you out of business long before Axa get round to sending you a heavily-adjusted-down payment.

Alexei says that there are warehouse screw-ups all the time, but generally we're talking about a box or two going missing, not - as has happened in a few cases - an entire label's stock going entirely.

The whole thing is made murky by the wide variation in size of labels that have been affected. And Alexei is right in pointing to the sense of an original impulse to help rapidly being shaped into a marketing campaign, and how what at the start of the week was a bunch of people buying records is now turning into some dubious sounding charities, and slick PR campaigns, and trying to get people to support Bjork rather than some of the smaller bands involved.

But what's ignored is that starting bit. It was people who love music, hearing that the people who bring them the music they love were struggling, trying to do what they could to help. The rushing to buy music from the affected labels and acts might have a financial aspect to it, and it might be that you're finding money that will, eventually, be coughed up by an insurance company anyway. The main motivation, though, was to show a bit of love to people who had had their work destroyed by idiots with burning wheeliebins.

That's something that insurance cheques can't do; to go up to someone when they've been kicked in the face and try to tell them that, despite what's happened, they're appreciated, and people care, and everything's going to be alright.

That original effort has been wrapped in the usual PR glitz and scent for a sale of the higher branches of the music industry - because that's what the music industry is, that's what it does - but in the rush to be cynical, you risk pissing on the well-meaning instincts of loads of people to just show that they valued something which had been destroyed by others.

[Thanks to @jamesthegill]


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