When Hannah Morgan (aka @fionchadd) found out that a warehouse in Enfield had burnt down during the London riots on Monday night – destroying vast amounts of stock belonging to a wide array of independent labels – she felt something had to be done.
A part-time gig promoter and writer for indie-leaning website The 405, she hit on the idea of organizing a fundraiser for labels affected by the blaze. The concept hit a nerve on Twitter, and offers of help came pouring in.
Just 24 hours later, Hannah’s brainwave is now a bona fide charity happening, with its own hashtag (#labellove), website, and an inaugural event, taking place this Saturday at London’s Old Blue Last.
I called Hannah up in her lunch hour (she has a day job in market research) to discuss the incredible fast-forward momentum of Label Love.
How have you found the last 24 hours?
It’s been an incredible experience. I put out a Tweet, someone said, “Yes that’s a brilliant idea.” And then suddenly Lauren Laverne was following me, BBC Wales Music got in touch. It’s been mindblowing.
Are you surprised it got such a response?
I’m hugely glad that it did. These are tiny labels that have been affected. I got an email from Loose Music, who’ve lost their entire stock. They don’t know if they’re going to survive. Some of the labels who are distributed through PIAS [the company who use the warehouse], they can’t survive this sort of disaster.
What makes it such a blow is that this is the industry now. It’s not about the big labels anymore. Smaller labels are springing up all over the place. They thrive because they can have a closer relationship with their artists. They’re specialized, which means people become fans of the labels, not just the artists.
Take a label like Wilkommen Records. They’re all friends, a massive collective. So the industry has changed, and I’m a fan of that change. It would be terrible if anything wiped it out.
Who else had been in touch about the campaign?
We’ve had a lot of artists. Dan le sac emailed me twice, said he’d be interested in helping out. There’s talk of Rolo Tomassi performing, who I love. I’ve been talking to Banquet Records about maybe using [their London club night] New Slang as a venue for the benefit, possibly on 18 August.
So what’s the plan?
I want to make this a national thing, combine everything under the same banner. That way we’ll raise a lot more funds than if people organize lots of unofficial events. There’s been lots of offers of help from all round the country, which is great but I’m hoping to co-ordinate it all into a big event in London.
It’s an admirable cause. Do these labels not have insurance though..?
I don’t work for PIAS so I don’t know the ins and outs. However, I’m told that in matters of civil unrest, insurance claims have to be submitted within seven days. The time scale is unbelievably tight, and these labels need money now. Cash flow needs to come in soon, because insurance claims are drawn-out affairs, and labels might not survive until the money comes through. That’s why we need to organize direct and swift action.
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If people want to help, what should they do?
They should email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Obviously I’m getting a lot of emails right now, but I’m reading them all and responding as quickly as I can. And if people just want to donate money, there’s a donate button on the website.