May 30, 2024

Independent label Topshelf Records has started a Kickstarter campaign after the mail order fulfillment company with which it partnered, Awesome Distro, abruptly entered bankruptcy. In a lengthy statement posted to the website, Topshelf co-founder Kevin Duquette said Awesome Distro shuttered without notifying Topshelf and the label’s entire inventory (including vinyl, CDs, tapes, and merchandise) is now being withheld by the warehouse’s landlord.

“[Awesome Distro] have abruptly shut down, owing us tens of thousands of dollars in revenue and forcing us to relocate 17 years worth of inventory immediately with no advance notice,” reads the statement. “The property management company they leased from is withholding access to our inventory, treating it as collateral, and citing that their agreement with Awesome creates legal ground for seizing everything in the building. We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign as a preemptive measure to help aid with ongoing efforts to fund a legal defense, and to pay for mounting expenses associated with this disruption.”

Topshelf noted that its business is still operating and the company does not expect to have to lay off staff. The label said it will continue paying out artist royalties and can cover its regular expenses. “But we have started this campaign because we don’t know if we’re vastly overestimating how dire this is, we don’t know if we’re immensely underestimating how dire this is, and we don’t know more than we know at this stage, but we know we need help.” Weakened Friends and No Sleep have also claimed that they’ve been impacted by this situation.

More information, including a thorough FAQ section about current and future record orders, can be found at Topshelf’s website. Pitchfork has reached out to Awesome Distro for comment.

Founded in Peabody, Massachusetts, in 2006, Topshelf is now based in Portland, Oregon. The cult label has played a major role in the late 2000s and early 2010s emo revival. Topshelf’s current roster includes Mal Devisa, Ratboys, Toe, Mid-Air Thief, Really From, Elephant Gym, and more. Over the years, Topshelf has also released music by the World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Pianos Become the Teeth, Braid, Everyone Everywhere, Boys Life, Dangers, Grown Ups, Tancred, and Special Explosion, among dozens of others.

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