Godspeed You Record Shops into oblivion

Godspeed-You-Black-Empero- Hammer + HopeI very much suspect Godspeed have set the standard for future album releases. For bands the album launch before the official release date had already become the norm and for some even the first few dates of a tour but now the stakes have been raised. Godspeed will play a full two week US tour and the day after the tour finishes shops will be allowed to sell their album. Their label Constellation has sold so many it has run out of stock.

Many thousands of fans will not visit a record shop to buy the album that much is clear which makes the label’s statement even stranger. This is possibly the best worded statement of support for independent record shops I have ever read.


Please check back on our site over the next couple of days for further developments.


We apologise for any inconvenience. We sincerely and strongly encourage you to support independent music retailers by buying the album when it is in stores or appears on other mail-order sites. Constellaton and GYBE care deeply about keeping indie record shops alive and viable – please support them by requesting/reserving the album, or if you do not live anywhere near a good indie store, check out the many stores that do also have online shops

If for instance Belle and Sebastian or Mogwai (our two biggest ever selling Scottish bands) adopted this strategy for their next album it would have a huge impact on Avalanche sales. Whatever it may say in the statement above what this strategy does do is make indie record shops less viable.

Whether artists should try to make as much as they can from a release for themselves and whether profitable labels should try to maximise those profits are discussions for a different time. Artists and labels’ situations vary dramatically but one thing is for sure. Many of those artists with established fan bases achieved them with the support of shops and many newer artists for all the wonders of social media would benefit even today from the support of shops. As Record Store Day has proved the support for shops much of the time could best be described as disingenuous.

Just before the Godspeed news I received an email from Interpol (the only band I have ever signed up to) to tell me that there would be a Tenth Anniversary Edition of Turn On the Bright Lights as they “wanted to do something special for the fans who have always supported us”. You could pre-order this from their website. Given the email says “We never could have imagined that the album would have reached so many people throughout the world” they would do well to remember that that was in no small part thanks to all the independent shops that supported their particular combination of Joy Division meets Echo & The Bunnymen meets The Cure as it was originally described to me. Their anniversary thanks is again to take sales from shops.

One thing is for sure. If all bands adopt the ethos of Godspeed and Interpol then it will be time for the remaining shops to turn the lights off not on ! 


So pleased were Interpol’s label with Avalanche’s support for the first album I was given a copy of “Antics” months before the release date to see what I thought. When the band signed to EMI for the third album I was asked for advice on the launch. My rather obvious suggestion was to have it in the natural history department of the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street. It didn’t go ahead but the same idea was used in LA.

When Godspeed You! Black Emperor played their second ever UK gig at the Stills Gallery in Edinburgh in November 1998 the promoters realised that even if they sold all the tickets they couldn’t afford to pay for the PA. It was indeed a sell out and Avalanche paid for the PA so the gig could go ahead. 


“The car is on fire… and there’s no driver at the wheel… and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides… and a dark wind blows…”

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