Pitchfork is reporting that venerated Chicago-based indie label Touch & Go will cease issuing new music and shut down its distribution business. It's another depressing sign of the music biz as we know it heaving its last breath. Touch & Go released dozens of influential records over the years: Imagine your record collection without Big Black's Songs About Fucking, Slint's Spiderland, Dirty Three, Die Kreuzen, the first TVOTR EP, etc. etc. etc. Oh my god, Seam's The Problem With Me. (I might cry now.)
On top of that, Touch & Go is one of the most trusted indie distrubtors in the land, putting records in stores for labels like Merge, Kill Rock Stars, and Drag City. (I worked at a soon-to-be-defunct record store, Atomic, that used to order Neutral Milk Hotel and Palace discs by the boatload from our pals at T&G.)
Speculation: I would guess that T&G would keep a skeletal staff in place in order to keep their remarkable catalog in print. The label's next (and maybe last for a while) new release looks to be a Crystal Antlers disc in April, and it still plans to reissue The Jesus Lizard catalog in August. A press release (copied below in full) doesn't jibe with Pitchfork's report, and seems to indicate that the label will continue to release new music. More news as it becomes available…
"It is with great sadness that we are reporting some major changes here at Touch and Go Records. Many of you may not be aware, but for nearly 2 decades, Touch and Go has provided manufacturing and distribution services for a select yet diverse group of other important independent record labels. Titles from these other 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 beginnings."