Touch & Go Shuts Down Distribution



Venerable label to
restructure, concentrate on its back catalog.



By Fred Mills


Shock waves are rippling through the indie music sector at
this very moment as word gets out about venerable Chicago label Touch and Go’s impending restructuring and/or scaling back which will result in them shutting down their
manufacturing and distribution business (and, possibly, no longer seeking out
and releasing new music).



For nearly 20 years now the label has distributed a slew of
the most popular U.S. indies, including Merge, Drag City, Jade Tree and Kill
Rock Stars In a statement issued by label owner Corey Rusk this morning, he
explained, “Titles from [those] labels populate the shelves of our warehouse
alongside the titles on our own two labels, Touch and Go Records and
Quarterstick Records. Unfortunately, as much as we love all of these labels,
the current state of the economy has reached the point where we can no longer
afford to continue this lesser known yet important part of Touch and Go’s
operations. Over the years, these labels have become part of our family, and it
pains us to see them go. We wish them all the very best and we will be doing
everything we can to help make the transition as easy as possible.


“Touch and Go will be returning to its roots and focusing solely on
being an independent record label. We’ll be busy for a few months working
closely with the departing labels and scaling our company to an appropriate
smaller size after their departure. It is the end of a grand chapter in Touch
and Go’s history, but we also know that good things can come from new


Chicago Sun-Times music critic Jim
DeRogatis, in a report filed earlier today, added that the label will “continue
releasing recordings from its own storied catalog… but it’s unclear whether the
label will release new recordings from younger up-and-coming bands.”


Meanwhile, when Pitchfork reported
on the story
, the label apparently clarified its position, telling Pitchfork that it “hopes to once again
release new music at some point in the future, once the dust has settled from
the restructuring brought about by the shuttering of its distribution arm.”


industry monitor Billboard indicated that the announcement this morning came “as
a complete surprise to everyone on staff” at Touch and Go, quoting sources
there as saying, Last week we were talking about SXSW, and now
this has happened” and “It was business as usual on Friday, then I called
in to a meeting on Monday and was told about the layoffs,” adding that 20
staffers face job cuts. They’ll reportedly work for six weeks, then the label
will operate with a skeleton crew through the end of the year as it determines
what to do next.




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