Jump to content

Awesome Merch/Distro Bankruptcy Affecting Labels & Their Orders (Most Notably Topshelf Recs)


Recommended Posts

Topshelf Records needs help! Inventory/Orders Trapped due to Awesome Merch Bankruptcy (brooklynvegan.com)

 

Tl;dr version: Awesome Distro files for bankruptcy and now the landlord/warehouse owner is holding inventory/merch hostage for a number of labels esp. Topshelf. Hence now explains why folks have not received orders in months. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a shit show. Really hope they dont fold on this. They were my fave label for a long time. 

 

If anyone wants to bypass the BV article, here's the direct link to the kickstarter Topshelf has set up...

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/topshelfrecords/we-need-your-help-to-save-our-label

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, TheWindBlower said:

No Sleep is going to be impacted by this as well apparently, meaning that their already incredibly delayed process will be even more delayed. I hope all the labels can get out of this. It's such a rough situation.

Oof. No offense, but No Sleep seems like it's been having a hard time, so this could make it even worse for them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

39 minutes ago, TheWindBlower said:

No Sleep is going to be impacted by this as well apparently, meaning that their already incredibly delayed process will be even more delayed. I hope all the labels can get out of this. It's such a rough situation.

I thought they said they brought everything in house and that’s why it’s taking longer?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nothing like throwing more money at something you already paid for to maybe have a chance to get those things at some undefined point in the future.

 

I get wanting to try to save a label like Topshelf, but a kickstarter seems...not shady exactly, but not great. Especially since even if they get their stuff back they don't currently have a warehouse to hold it, or a distro to even get stuff out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wait what https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2022/09/01/awesome-merchandise-bankrupt-investors-lose/ and https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/investors-to-lose-ps650000-as-leeds-firm-awesome-merchandise-goes-into-controversial-administration-3821577

A lot to take in here, so let me try and synopsise: Luke (owner) wanted to rid of CrowdCube investors due to moaning they were not seeing any ample return on investment (typical) because he was reinvesting the money back into the company (growth, USA warehouse etc). He's dissolved the company, bought it back with investment from family loans, and - what I am hoping for - he will port all of awesome distro's stuff over to the new company and continute operations as usual.

What's NOT cool is, this is all in limbo, all the staff layoffs in the USA are not mentioned in this and there's no assurance he's going to maintain the Austin warehouse.  ALso this

Quote


There was no response when The Yorkshire Post attempted to contact the offices of Awesome Merchandise

 

This all screams dodgy business dealings and I would still poke some money into the Topshelf/No Sleep fundraiser as I still belive this company is about to collapse… very slowly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel like a lot of people did not read Topshelf's entire statement. I know it's long but it's all worth reading.

1 hour ago, 75 percent oof said:

I get wanting to try to save a label like Topshelf, but a kickstarter seems...not shady exactly, but not great. Especially since even if they get their stuff back they don't currently have a warehouse to hold it, or a distro to even get stuff out.

"so how’re we gonna fund this? alright, you read this sob story. you know how money works. this is gonna cost money."

https://www.topshelfrecords.com/#help

It's broken down into 8 sections of why they need money. There's an option to receive physical media in return for your donation for those that don't want to give with nothing in return.

5 minutes ago, xfactor675 said:

Any label people can tell me why is it worth it to outsource mail order in the first place?  I mean mike park is still doing this from his garage. Is it really more cost-efficient than renting a place and a few helping hand? If so it's really fucked up these can happen. 

"we had been handling our own mail order and warehousing our own records since our start in 2006—doing it all ourselves—moving from dorm rooms, to parents’ garages, to extra space at a larger label’s warehouse, and eventually, to our own dedicated space we leased when we moved the label to San Diego in 2015. In 2018 though, the building we were in was sold. the new management stopped renewing existing leases and then re-set everyone’s rent at a 36% increase (apparently legal!). Unable to find a suitable location at a price we could afford, we made the difficult decision to outsource our mail order operation to a fulfillment partner: Awesome Distro. back then, it cost us $13k just to ship everything to Awesome's new Austin, TX-based warehouse where we were to be their first US client. at the time this was a pretty big expense for us that we struggled to pay while continuing operations as normal."

"so when we made the decision to move our mail order operation out of our own control over to a third party half the country away, that weighed heavily on us. it felt like removing a part of the self in a way i can’t explain. we knew it had to be done, but the savings and perceived efficiencies came with a heavy dose of malaise around this tangible loss of identity and sovereignty."

1 hour ago, zacooper said:

I thought they said they brought everything in house and that’s why it’s taking longer?

 

I don't think they got their inventory moved in time. They knew Awesome Merch was going downhill.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

53 minutes ago, xfactor675 said:

Any label people can tell me why is it worth it to outsource mail order in the first place?  I mean mike park is still doing this from his garage. Is it really more cost-efficient than renting a place and a few helping hand? If so it's really fucked up these can happen. 

Real estate. Unless you sell out of every record and every variant, you’re going to have lots of back inventory, which requires space. As mentioned in the Topshelf announce, they had their own place but realtors wanted to gouge them and increase rent 32%.

 

Mike Park does it out of his Moms house and does small presses because he can’t have 5K records floating around at a time. Other labels like Lauren Records do it out of their houses. It’s basically one of two methods. House or gamble on renting a place.

 

The other factor is staffing. You might have days where you get 5 orders, so you’d have to have multi-discipline staff that can then go spend the other 7 hours of their day doing something else label related. Otherwise you’re either paying too much orrr you end up bringing in people just for a new pre-order rush, which leads to people not knowing how to pack records, etc. Then you get complaints and no one buys from you anymore, etc. Hard balance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, N8TRU said:

I feel like a lot of people did not read Topshelf's entire statement. I know it's long but it's all worth reading.

"so how’re we gonna fund this? alright, you read this sob story. you know how money works. this is gonna cost money."

https://www.topshelfrecords.com/#help

It's broken down into 8 sections of why they need money. There's an option to receive physical media in return for your donation for those that don't want to give with nothing in return.

"we had been handling our own mail order and warehousing our own records since our start in 2006—doing it all ourselves—moving from dorm rooms, to parents’ garages, to extra space at a larger label’s warehouse, and eventually, to our own dedicated space we leased when we moved the label to San Diego in 2015. In 2018 though, the building we were in was sold. the new management stopped renewing existing leases and then re-set everyone’s rent at a 36% increase (apparently legal!). Unable to find a suitable location at a price we could afford, we made the difficult decision to outsource our mail order operation to a fulfillment partner: Awesome Distro. back then, it cost us $13k just to ship everything to Awesome's new Austin, TX-based warehouse where we were to be their first US client. at the time this was a pretty big expense for us that we struggled to pay while continuing operations as normal."

"so when we made the decision to move our mail order operation out of our own control over to a third party half the country away, that weighed heavily on us. it felt like removing a part of the self in a way i can’t explain. we knew it had to be done, but the savings and perceived efficiencies came with a heavy dose of malaise around this tangible loss of identity and sovereignty."

 

I don't think they got their inventory moved in time. They knew Awesome Merch was going downhill.

I'm not going to bother picking out the bits of this I want to respond to because in dark mode for whatever reason this is black text on black background and makes me want to throw my phone across the room.

 

I read it. I get their reasoning. Give them money and if you back the certain things you get a "gift." I know how kickstarter works.

 

BUT. Say you give them money to fight this and they lose the court case they're talking about to get their shit back. You're likely shit out of luck on both your original purchase and your backing. I hate when companies try to crowd source their own expenses when they should have likely known what was going on in the first place and gotten their inventory out of there.

 

I dig Topshelf, but this is a cascade of fuckups that could and should have been prevented and I think putting their customers in this position is a trash way of doing things. They're likely suing for court fees as well (or should be) so if they do win they just get to keep all that money as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, 75 percent oof said:

I'm not going to bother picking out the bits of this I want to respond to because in dark mode for whatever reason this is black text on black background and makes me want to throw my phone across the room.

 

I read it. I get their reasoning. Give them money and if you back the certain things you get a "gift." I know how kickstarter works.

 

BUT. Say you give them money to fight this and they lose the court case they're talking about to get their shit back. You're likely shit out of luck on both your original purchase and your backing. I hate when companies try to crowd source their own expenses when they should have likely known what was going on in the first place and gotten their inventory out of there.

 

I dig Topshelf, but this is a cascade of fuckups that could and should have been prevented and I think putting their customers in this position is a trash way of doing things. They're likely suing for court fees as well (or should be) so if they do win they just get to keep all that money as well.

They’ve been contacting Awesome Distro for months and getting the run around - they just found out about this 

 

also if it gets backed you will get the item you pledged for - they are “selling” everything in their archive 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, 75 percent oof said:

I'm not going to bother picking out the bits of this I want to respond to because in dark mode for whatever reason this is black text on black background and makes me want to throw my phone across the room.

 

I read it. I get their reasoning. Give them money and if you back the certain things you get a "gift." I know how kickstarter works.

 

BUT. Say you give them money to fight this and they lose the court case they're talking about to get their shit back. You're likely shit out of luck on both your original purchase and your backing. I hate when companies try to crowd source their own expenses when they should have likely known what was going on in the first place and gotten their inventory out of there.

 

I dig Topshelf, but this is a cascade of fuckups that could and should have been prevented and I think putting their customers in this position is a trash way of doing things. They're likely suing for court fees as well (or should be) so if they do win they just get to keep all that money as well.

They literally cannot make money for the foreseeable future. They have a staff and royalties to pay. The way they make money is currently locked up from them and it's of no fault of their own. Kevin says in the post they were going to drive out and move their shit, but were told they can't get their shit. One month of zero income for small businesses is enough to press the panic button and start laying people off.  This is a totally appropriate time to ask for help. 

Labels and bands have Kickstarted at way way less deserving times than TSR right now. It's really fucking weird to see someone questioning the morality of this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, 75 percent oof said:

I'm not going to bother picking out the bits of this I want to respond to because in dark mode for whatever reason this is black text on black background and makes me want to throw my phone across the room.

 

I read it. I get their reasoning. Give them money and if you back the certain things you get a "gift." I know how kickstarter works.

 

BUT. Say you give them money to fight this and they lose the court case they're talking about to get their shit back. You're likely shit out of luck on both your original purchase and your backing. I hate when companies try to crowd source their own expenses when they should have likely known what was going on in the first place and gotten their inventory out of there.

 

I dig Topshelf, but this is a cascade of fuckups that could and should have been prevented and I think putting their customers in this position is a trash way of doing things. They're likely suing for court fees as well (or should be) so if they do win they just get to keep all that money as well.

This post could have saved you a lot of time if you just wrote "I'm insufferable"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Shelby said:

This post could have saved you a lot of time if you just wrote "I'm insufferable"

Yeah, yeah. I know we disagree on these sorts of things, we've been through it more than once.

 

Sorry I don't just post .gifs and fuck around with people anymore, though maybe that would be best at this point in this thread since all the pertinent info has been shared.

 

Haven't had a good ole fashioned shit-show thread lock in a while.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, 75 percent oof said:

Yeah, yeah. I know we disagree on these sorts of things, we've been through it more than once.

 

Sorry I don't just post .gifs and fuck around with people anymore, though maybe that would be best at this point in this thread since all the pertinent info has been shared.

 

Haven't had a good ole fashioned shit-show thread lock in a while.

Dunno who you are and don't care. What you wrote is the same thing as someone standing behind a homeless person warning people not to give them money because they shouldn't have made such bad choices. Yeah you're probably right but you lack all traces of humanity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

42 minutes ago, Shelby said:

Dunno who you are and don't care. What you wrote is the same thing as someone standing behind a homeless person warning people not to give them money because they shouldn't have made such bad choices. Yeah you're probably right but you lack all traces of humanity.

spacer.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, Shelby said:

 

"unless I'm completely clapped in an argument and can't actually support my evil opinion of course."

Just trying to cheer you up/difuse the situation, shlebs. You seem like you're really going through something because I think it sucks for a company to beg its customers to keep it afloat.

 

I'm not holding a gun to anyone's head to not donate, just wanted to put my two cents out there. Sorry you think I'm lIteRalLy HitLer for thinking a company that has been around for 16 years should try to deal with their own problems and have some funds set aside for an emergency like 99% of all other companies that have successfully been around that long.

 

Not sure why it seems like you're taking this so personally, especially since you apparently have no idea who I am, so you obviously dont know what I'm about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, 75 percent oof said:

Sorry you think I'm lIteRalLy HitLer for thinking a company that has been around for 16 years should try to deal with their own problems and have some funds set aside for an emergency like 99% of all other companies that have successfully been around that long.

You know how I said I feel like people did not read Topshelf's entire statement... Well... I don't want to call you out but they're literally dealing with their own problems and they have funds set aside for an emergency because they have successfully been around that long. You might want to tone down your ignorance and take the time to read the links before commenting because you missed the mark with everything you've said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, N8TRU said:

You know how I said I feel like people did not read Topshelf's entire statement... Well... I don't want to call you out but they're literally dealing with their own problems and they have funds set aside for an emergency because they have successfully been around that long. You might want to tone down your ignorance and take the time to read the links before commenting because you missed the mark with everything you've said.

I see you're likely referring to this part here:

  • we have a modest savings as a business to sustain payroll and continue to pay out artist royalties, etc.
  • we also still have cashflow to sustain our day-to-day and continued operation via physical and digital revenue from our distributor, sync placements, etc..
  • we are exploring options to take out an interest-free advance from our distributor if needed.
  • we have access to up to $33k via a Paypal “Working Capital” loan at a flat fee of $6.3k (19%). we'd like to avoid using this if we can because the fee is so high, but it's there as a last resort should we need it.

 

If all those things are real, true statements, then why beg for money from customers via kickstarter and crypto donations? To fight their lawsuit? That should be a consideration when putting aside money for an emergency, and I'm sure in the future they'll take that into consideration.

 

I get that people are really emotionally invested in this. I'm not trying to say that anyone who wants to donate/Kickstart this shouldn't. I'm just very skeptical about this whole thing and I think everyone should stop to think critically about it.

 

From re-reading the statement from Topshelf it looks like there were a lot of red flags that should have forewarned them about this. I understand that they may not have realized what was going on, and it looks like Awesome really did fuck them over, which sucks.  But they also needed to do their own due diligence when things started looking hinky.

 

I want to address some points individually here now:

  • we have a modest savings as a business to sustain payroll and continue to pay out artist royalties, etc.

How much is their modest savings? Is it enough to continue for 1 month? 1 year? Who knows. To me pointing out that it is modest is a quiet way of saying "not much."

  • we also still have cashflow to sustain our day-to-day and continued operation via physical and digital revenue from our distributor, sync placements, etc..

Digital I get. Sync placements...sure, but I can't imagine that's going to provide a ton. But they're saying they have cashflow via physical (sales I assume) through their distributor. Is that not Awesome distro? Possibly a different distro for non-NA orders? They previously said Awesome owes them money, so I have to assume they expect to bring in cash from somewhere else since that Awesome distro money likely isn't coming.

Edit: I've been corrected on this point. They're talking about physical distribution to record stores handled by Redeye.

  • we are exploring options to take out an interest-free advance from our distributor if needed.

This seems like what I would expect a company to try to do. These are their business partners. This is who they should be going to for money. But again, another distributor? I'll admit I may not understand what they're talking about here.

Edit: again, they're referring to Redye. Doesn't change anything about the first part of this section though.

  • we have access to up to $33k via a Paypal “Working Capital” loan at a flat fee of $6.3k (19%). we'd like to avoid using this if we can because the fee is so high, but it's there as a last resort should we need it.

I looked into how these working capital loans work and the amount you can take is based on your PayPal intake. This doesn't inspire a ton of confidence, because it shows how little they were actually taking in via digital sales and licensing which is where most of that money is coming from, as they mention that Awesome was receiving all paypal funds from physical sales instead of Topshelf being paid directly and then paying their distro/warehouse via invoice.

 

• Awesome also owes us over $40k in revenue they’ve collected on our behalf but have ceased paying or even accounting to us for. our statements are months behind. we’ve made repeated requests over the last half year to reconcile this and have yet to be directly told whether or not we will receive this money at all.

 

6 months of requests to reconcile a decent sum of money is way too long to pretend you didn't know something was going wrong and not get your inventory out of there.

 

• because we can’t currently ship anything, we don’t feel comfortable continuing to accept orders. we have now turned off our stores since we have no idea when we’ll even be able to ship an order again, let alone where it’ll even ship from!

 

This just straight up contradicts what they say about having incoming revenue from physical sales?

 

I just want everyone to think before they immediately jump in due to an emotional connection with the label. The whole thing seems sketchy to me, and I don't like companies begging customers to keep them afloat when they don't have a real plan moving forward and the reasons they've given for the current circumstances seem shaky at best.

 

 

Edit: And you may be right. I may be misreading this and all my skepticism may be misplaced.

I'm not trying to be a dick here, but this whole thing rubs me the wrong way and I think it's important to put that out there. I was trying to avoid a huge drawn out post, but here we are.

Please feel free to correct me anywhere you find issue with my thought process or if I'm misinformed in any of my points.

Edited by 75 percent oof
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×