Carrot Top Distribution Announces Plans to Close


Long-running distributor of independent music has been invaluable.

By Fred Mills

Anyone who’s spent time in the indie music milieu has undoubtedly known about indie distributors – of records, CDs, DVDs, books, even tapes, teeshirts and magazines – and all the challenges they face. But we in the indie community need to have them, and it’s always been our mandate to support them, as both customers and retailers, because they in turn support the artists and labels themselves who can’t necessarily avail themselves of the bigger, more monolithic modes of distribution.

Over the years a number of them have gone under (Touch & Go comes to mind as one of the more prominent closings), and now the sad word comes that Chicago distributor Carrot Top Distribution is in the process of “winding down” its operation. Part of the reason is logistical, part of it is financial, and part of it is also due to health-related issues that president Patrick Monaghan is facing. Carrot Top has been at the forefront of distribution for ages, more than two decades, and losing it is considered a serious blow to indie labels and their bands who have come to rely upon it to get their wares into stores in a timely and efficient manner.

Ask anyone who runs an indie label about trying to get copies of records or CDs into stores by calling all of them separately; it’s a near-impossible task, which is why we have distributors in the first place. Or simply ask yourself: would you rather mail order every new release or back catalog title you’ve been itching to get directly from every band and/or label, or would you prefer to be able to walk into your local store and grab ’em all in one visit?

Admirably, CTD isn’t just closing up shop abruptly and leaving folks holding the bag; as you’ll read in the letter, below, that Patrick sent out a few days ago, he intends to be diligent with his accounting, make sure everyone is paid properly, and help the labels he deals with find new homes.

So I’d like to personally extend a big BLURT salute to Patrick and his crew, and to note, additionally, that our sister business, NC’s Schoolkids Records, will miss them as well as regular customers. Patrick, you’re one of the good guys.


Dear Customers,

Time has come for CTD, Ltd to wind down its operations. The world is a much different place than it was when we opened in September 1996. All of you know, too well, the unrelenting pressures on all facets of the music business, and a humble, hard-working distributor with a 13% margin hardly has a place in this market.

In addition, my MS diagnosis ten years ago has changed how my body and brain work. While my symptoms are relatively stable, those changes have not been for the better, and as with any progressive disease, the outlook is cloudy at best. I’d also like to wind things down here while I am still able to. 

We would not be here now, and would not have made it twenty years, without all of you. Thank you for the trust that all of you have shown us. You and your employees have been the main reason that we all get up in the morning and come in to “make the donuts.” At its best, the relationship between a distributor sales person and a retail customer frequently turns into a lifelong friendship that continues even outside of business. We all hope to continue these friendships for years, wherever it is that all of us eventually end up.

Our intention here is to wrap things up in an orderly fashion over the next several months. One of our primary objectives over the next few months is to help our labels find new homes. We will work with them to accomplish this, and we will work with their new distributors to make the change of distribution process as quick, seamless, and painless as possible for them and for you. In the meantime, we’ll still be selling records, same as we always have, but with a more strict eye to receivable. Obviously, our other goal is to collect outstanding receivables, which we’ll keep working on the same as we always have. If you have any questions about your outstanding invoices, please let us know as soon as you can. Otherwise, please help us by paying them promptly.

As our exclusive labels find new homes over the next few months, we will make certain that all of our customers know where to track their musical goodness down.

We know the next few months will be a weird transition for all of us, but we’ll all be here to make it as painless as possible for all of you. We’ll still be here, answering phones, selling records, and swapping weekend show stories for another two to three months.

I don’t have appropriate words to thank all of you for the great trust and kindness that you have shown us, and all of the excellent employees that have passed through, over the last two decades. Thank you.

Best regards,

Patrick Monaghan, President

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