WEA, Warner Music’s distribution and marketing arm, has shut down the accounts of “about a hundred” retailers that did less than $10,000 in business with the company last year, a WEA source has confirmed to Pitchfork. The move put into effect an existing policy requiring a $10,000 minimum annual order for stores holding direct accounts with WEA. This could have a devastating effect on small record stores around the country, representatives for various shops tell Pitchfork.
A WEA rep said in a statement: “WEA proudly supports hundreds of independent vinyl retailers across the country with direct distribution, and many more through other channels. Last week, in accordance with our long-time policy, we recommended that a limited number of retailers would be better served by working with one of the many vinyl wholesale partners that carry all of our artists’ releases.”
A WEA source clarified that the accounts did not all sell vinyl and that more than one-third of the shuttered accounts hadn’t ordered vinyl in more than a year. The source said the retailers affected included not just record stores but also museum gift shops.
Greg Glover, a co-owner of Commercial Astoria, which sells vinyl records alongside clothing, jewelry, and accessories in Astoria, Oregon, said he didn’t find out his account was closed until after spending the weekend prepping a $1,400 order. “No product flow means no business,” Glover told Pitchfork.
Small businesses that can’t afford to order directly from WEA will now have to order through intermediaries. Glover said that will be more expensive and lead to higher prices for customers.