In addition to all my "real life" plans for 2017, I thought that supporting smaller labels and bands would make for a decent new year's resolution (and a punk one at that). Nothing major, though, just spending a little more time on finding out about what's going on, learning about new bands and labels ... and, once in a while, skipping the coffeehouse treat and buying an actual record instead.
It is in this spirit, that I picked up a 7" from a pretty unknown band last week: Last Warning from Zurich. It's a straight edge four piece playing powerful Boston-styled Hardcore that combines all the clichés we've come to love and hate so much. It's a truly awesome record: six hard-hitting tracks, relatable lyrics not shying away from commenting political issues, great cover artwork, heavy vinyl (as thick as a pancake). What I like most about this record, though, is the poster on the flipside of the lyric sheet (see end of this post). Seems like these guys have a great sense of humor (and good taste) -- a rare thing in this particular genre.
Unfortunately, the label behind this release, Take It Back Records, will fold soon. I found the owner's rationale quite interesting and wanted to share it with you guys:
"Blinded" is the final release by Take It Back. Making and selling records stopped being fun for various reasons:
(i) Too many bands started to see a label not as a partner but as a supplier only. I never wanted to be a supplier but wanted to be part of a team and community.
(ii) If a band doesn't play 30+ shows a year, the band's record won't sell (as merch tables have become the most important point of sale). Simple as that. I had too many bands ask for expensive extras and this and that, but then the bands didn't play enough shows or even broke up right after the album's release. This left me with a loss of more than € 5,000 per year for the last three years.
(iii) Pressing records is getting more difficult. While it was smaller labels that kept the pressing plants alive over the last two decades, the pressing plants now prefer to serve the bigger labels that started to press records again. Due to this pressing a record now takes up to four months or longer. Also minimum orders went up too high. E.g. with most places it is no longer possible to order less than 500 copies on one color. As a result I can no longer offer limited colors for direct orders. However it is essential to have direct orders to make my financial calculation work out.
(iv) I am done having to deal with distros that don't pay me. Unfortunately too many sellers don't pay on time or don't pay at all. I am just done having to deal with such behaviour.
(v) Sales are going down more and more. While the record industry is celebrating the revival of the vinyl culture, punk vinyl culture is dying (see iii). 2017 is going to see a lot of punk labels die. And Take It Back is just one of them.
(vi) Record production prices are getting ridiculously high. I just don't feel comfortable having to ask more than € 5 per EP (which is already too much) and € 11 per LP.
Last Warning -- Blinded 7", Take It Back Records (2017)