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US loses a classical distributor

Qualiton, which imported a age of labels including Supraphon, Hungaroton, Signum and Bis, has announced it has ceased trading.

It follows Codaex into oblivion.

libor pesek


Here’s a redacted farewell letter:


After many many months of discussion and searching for viable alternatives we have decided we need to close Qualiton. As you can imagine this is a heartbreaking decision. Unfortunately there is no other option. Between the current state of the music industry, xxxs’ constant pursuit of our labels, the lack of retail stores and the takeover of the market from down loads we simply cannot compete. … I want to make this as easy as possible for both of us. Once you appoint a new distributor we will make every effort to accommodate them in a smooth transition.

I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed meeting you and working with you. It is a very sad situation.

Judy and Anita


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  1. This is very sad news indeed.
    Inquiring minds want to know who is the redacted “villain” looking to ingest the label?

    • It is Naxos. They have been aggressively taking on labels for years and are the most significant classical distributor in the U.S. by a good margin. They had to build a distribution business for their in house product back when the major labels didn’t take them seriously. Now they distribute some of the majors in the U.S. I think that is called irony. Unfortunately it seems some prices are increasing with labels switching from Qualiton to Naxos. This has not always been the case. When SDG switched from Harmonia Mundi USA to Naxos prices fell quite a bit. Albany has picked up a number of labels as well.

      • Well thats frustrating. Naxos has drastically reduced the number of airplay copies allowed to radio stations. 5 hardcopy OR 15 digital per month.

        That limits who we can feature and guarantees less sales, since my online station links each album directly to amazon for purchases.

        Better than EMI, which stopped radio play copies almost a year ago.

  2. Tom Moore says:

    this is very sad, but not at all surprising.

  3. Yet another bites the dust. How is it that so few people understand that with the physical disc you get HIGHER FIDELITY?? I am all for digital distribution but this is becoming just terrible.

    • “…with the physical disc you get HIGHER FIDELITY…”

      You are completely wrong!!

      :-) Tommy

      • Greetings Tommy, thanks for your comment. Please, enlighten me! I am not an expert in audio; but the people I know who seem to be knowledgeable all say that the fidelity may be significantly diminished with a digital version, at least one with lower “resolution”. Explain, please!

        • “at least one with lower ‘resolution’”

          That’s the key, Ana.

          Digital recordings in the MP3 format are smaller files; they are less expensive and download more quickly but don’t offer CD-quality sound.

          Other formats, notably FLAC, offer much better sound quality – at best, even better than CDs – but the files are larger and more expensive and take longer to download.

          Linn Records is one label that offers all their recordings for download in several formats; you can visit their website to learn more about the differences (including the differences in price!).

          • Thank you so much! I wondered if it weren’t something like that. Lots to think about here, for the concert and recording artist, and for the listener. ¡Saludos!

  4. Very very sorry to hear this.

  5. Jean-Claude Bazinet says:

    Things change so fast nowadays that we cannot help but be in a repeated state of grief

  6. PK Miller says:

    This is very sad. A local independent music dealer was always able to get me some rarities via Qualiton. everybody is gobbling up everybody else and it’s even beyond survival of the fittest. It’s survival of whoever has the most money. And we the people are the losers.

  7. Petros Linardos says:

    At a personal level I feel very sorry to see a distributor of a number of fine labels go out of business.

    How will Qualiton’s demise really affect us record buyers in the US?

    Over the last ten or so years I’ve been easily ordering my CD’s through Arkivmusic. Their prices are very competitive, their catalog excellent. Through the internet I”m able to listen to just about any CD samples I want. Buying CD’s has never been more convenient, making informed choices has never been easier. And, yes, there are still plenty of excellent recordings being made – just look at Norman’s reviews. Times are changing, but they are not that bad, all thing considered.

  8. Arthur Robinson says:

    Naxos = noxious.

    I shall miss Qualiton.

  9. Louise Barder says:

    Qualiton used to distribute my Romophone label, back in the day. They had good taste.

  10. Why need Qualiton’s departure have any real impact on buyers?
    Most labels will make their product available on their own websites, with international shipping, if there is the demand. Some will enter the market via other distributors. If there is no need for the distributor middle-man between label and retail, why have it?

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