Chemikal Underground's Emma Pollock on the Sony/PIAS blaze
“When I first heard and fully realised what had happened, it was utterly shocking, in a way that was so absolute. The music industry is in a fairly terrible state right now but the biggest problem you ever envisage having to face is cash flow problems, or how to approach the next album in a way to make it profitable. You never think to yourself ‘what if somebody, on a total whim, burns our stock down one night?’ The thing that’s really got me about it is that it’s so disconnected to the industry, yet the impact it is having is huge.
"Right now, records generally aren’t being manufactured abroad. They’re being manufactured in the UK by UK labels who are then exporting to the rest of the world. Quite a lot of that stock may or may not be replaced because of the minimum runs that are required at a manufacturing plant. So there are practicalities that come in to play and I just wonder if a lot of titles, as physical stock, just won’t be seen anymore. That said, for Chemikal Underground there’s absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of our titles will be repressed. There are some classic albums that people are still buying on a regular basis.
"To be honest, I don’t know how it will impact on us yet, but cash flow will be the biggest problem. It’s fine if insurance matters come through but it’s the interim period that’s the problem. It’s frustrating for current albums, like the new Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells album, which has been so well received but now that momentum will be lost. There’ll be an interruption on the business side of things as factories are inundated with repressing orders, but also for the actual music fan who won’t be able to buy albums like that for a few months at least. It’s too early to notice this effect at the moment. We’re only a couple of weeks down the road and the media have almost completely moved on. It’s become a political hot potato; it’s social and political commentary now. The impact on the smaller businesses will be quickly forgotten by all except those directly affected.
"We're going to have to demonstrate a certain degree of solidarity as an industry, rather than as separate businesses, because we are all affected right across the board. We have seen a lovely, lovely response from a lot of people encouraging others to buy digital records from the affected labels. Everyone can lend a hand just by buying an album that they maybe otherwise wouldn’t have bought, and it does make a difference. We’ve seen an upsurge in digital sales on our Chemikal Underground online store over the last week or so. I think people are responding and coming out in force and acknowledging it privately and publicly. It’s something that none of us fully understand the impact of yet. We just have to take it day by day, week by week and just keep our fingers crossed that all the labels come out the other end of it. It’s really, really important that they do. I mean, my God, if there’s been a time when we don’t need this, it’s right now.”