Feature

The downsizing of Touch and Go Records

What the revered label’s cutbacks mean for the future of indie rock

“It's a very, very sad day for indie rock,” said Amy Phillips in Pitchfork. Touch and Go Records, “one of America's foremost independent record labels,” has announced that it will soon begin layoffs, indefinitely postpone releasing new music, and focus mainly on releasing its back catalogue. “From Dirty Three and Pinback to Ted Leo and TV on the Radio, from Calexico to the Mekons to Slint, Touch and Go nurtured the careers of so many bands that served as backbones for indie rock.”

Touch and Go is also “eliminating the part of its operation that has provided manufacturing and distribution services to dozens of smaller record labels,” said Jim DeRogatis in the Chicago Sun-Times. Now such labels as Drag City, Kill Rock Stars, Jade Tree, and Atavistic will have to find another way to get their music to retailers, “by far one of the most daunting challenges in the indie music world.”

We’re all partially to blame for the slow death of labels like Touch and Go, said Carrie Brownstein in NPR.org. As a result of being “spoon-fed” by Myspace and other music websites, our curiosity has diminished and we’ve stopped supporting indie labels with our dollars and cents. If we're not careful, soon there will be nothing left to support at all.

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