[NOTE: Check out my TOP 2008 post, below! I was editing it so it back-posted to the original date, January 2nd.]

Friend + co-conspirator Jeff Rosenstock asked me to contribute to the upcoming Bomb the Music Industry! zine that will be featured in the liner notes of their new album, Scrambles. What he forgot to tell me was all he needed was some text and not a "zine page," per se. The zine will be a sort of D.I.Y. how-to booklet. Based on my experience with For the Birds, I wrote up a short and pretty generic guide to starting a distro. The timeline was short, so check the mediocre layout and the vague ideas about building a distro. Also, the final product will not involve this layout at all. Jeff is doing his own thing and formatted my edited text (not the same as in the image above) to fit the layout he is working with.

Here is the text that will be in the zine:

by Kate Wadkins

A distro is an independent or D.I.Y. way to distribute independent or D.I.Y. goods. Maybe you know about a bunch of important things that you wish were more present at shows or community events, or maybe you're going on tour and want to share you and your friends' art with folks in different places. My friends and I have a feminist distro that distributes art, books, zines and music. Whatever your motivation, building a distro is not too hard! Usually you just need a little money and a lot of heart.

1. Figure out what you want to carry. This could be anything! Zines, music, books, art, comics, whatever.

2. Contact the people who make those things. This could be the actual person/people who created the goods, or a distributor who represents them.

3. These folks will usually let you buy some of their goods at wholesale or distro prices -- this means it costs less to buy a bunch of things at once than it would if you bought them at a store or another distributor. Sometimes folks will let you copy their zines or music for free if you are going to distro it for them, but you've gotta ask permission first!

4. Purchase or copy the goods (whatever was agreed upon). Sell 'em for a little more than what you bought 'em for - so you can afford to keep your distro running! This is not usually a profitable venture. As I said, lots of heart!

5. You can set up your distro at shows or community events, or even take it on tour with you! Also, you could make your distro available through mailorder by advertising in D.I.Y. publications, zines, or on the internet.


  1. Anonymous12:05 PM

    a little obvious...

  2. yup, said that already!

    it's for a zine that is going to be nationally distributed to kids that might not be too familiar with DIY ideas. i figured it should be pretty accessible / obvious.

  3. hey "Anonymous," its attitudes like that that kept me from asking about what a distro was and how they worked for years. just because its obvious to you doesnt mean its obvious to all the kids who are joining the distro subculture and keeping it going long after you and i are gone. now i am the editor of a nationally-distributed zine and help run a distro myself--i cant even imagine how much more i could have been contributing all these years if i hadnt been scared away from finding out this sort of information. <3