Small record labels are struggling as it is, but the latest upping of postal rates may be one that will cost these small businesses more than they can bear. The shipping is passed on to the customer, and as the shipping rates rise, the labels fear the shipping cost will out-price some customers.
"Prices on mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service increased this week — the price of a first-class stamp now costs 46 cents, up a penny. But for small businesses that ship products overseas, like many independent record labels, the costs could be much larger.
Brian Lowit, who has worked at Washington, D.C.'s Dischord Records for 10 years, says that while a postage rate hike is a familiar bump in the road, "I've never seen one this drastic."
Dischord, the label started and run by Ian MacKaye of the local band Fugazi, has long been known for selling moderately priced records. A copy of Fugazi's 1991 album Steady Diet of Nothing still costs just $10 on CD and $11 on LP. When a customer in Europe or Asia buys a record, though, the label has to add in the cost of shipping. And for those customers, that cost is now much higher.
Dischord also distributes releases by many other labels. Lowit says that on Saturday, it cost $13.17 to ship a record to the U.K. Today, it costs him $18.60. For a label that ships several hundred LPs overseas every week, that's a lot of money."