Utopia Distribution Services Touts ‘Record-Breaking’ November Following Operational Hurdles — 3.3 Million+ Physical Units Shipped

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Utopia Distribution Services and Proper Music Group MD Drew Hill. Photo Credit: Utopia Music

Notwithstanding the well-documented operational woes it’s grappled with throughout 2022 and 2023, Utopia Music has revealed that its UK warehouse shipped north of 3.3 million physical-media units during November.

The Switzerland-based company reached out to Digital Music News with word of the “record-breaking” November, which is said to be the “busiest month to date” for Utopia Distribution Services (UDS) since the September of 2022 purchase of Cinram Novum.

Despite this buyout’s having arrived about 15 months ago, it was only in late August that UDS, not to be confused with “film distribution and sales company” Utopia Distribution, opened the 269,000-square-foot Bicester warehouse (under a tie-up with Dubai World’s DP World) behind the initially mentioned distribution feat.

Then, we reported in October that Sony Music and Universal Music had seemingly swooped in with an asset-backed financial lifeline to keep UDS afloat. Though the precise details of the agreements weren’t publicly disclosed, regulatory filings shed light upon the stringent nature of the pacts, including the far-reaching powers held by the major labels over UDS in connection with the union.

In any event, Utopia Distribution Services specifically shipped 3,360,067 units (covering both physical music and visual-media products) throughout November, with a peak of 820,778 units moved during the month’s final week, according to the company.

The sum attached to the whole of November marks a 26.2 percent boost from October and its 2,662,314 units distributed, Utopia also signaled.

Particularly on the music side, the warehouse is said to distribute “70% of the UK’s physical music for clients” such as the aforementioned Universal Music and Sony Music as well as [PIAS] (in which Universal has a stake) and Cargo Music. Meanwhile, the final major label, Warner Music, has tapped UDS for “invoicing, cash collection and returns services,” per the latter business.

Addressing his company’s November milestone, UDS managing director Drew Hill emphasized the need for a capable and evolving distribution framework for physical products including vinyl.

“As demand for physical music continues to grow,” communicated Hill, “it remains essential that the recording’s business can benefit from a fit-for-purpose supply chain able to service the biggest major to the smallest indie.

“I am incredibly proud of the infrastructure UDS has built, with the success of our new warehouse being testament to the collective hard work from industry stakeholders to ensure physical formats can continue to thrive in years to come,” he concluded.