Column from March 27th, 2000 issue
having been making plenty of noise at the moment about the future of the music
industry, mainly because the Wall Street suits fancy throwing money after
every internet venture possible. With the sheen finally coming off all these
internet stocks, maybe it’s a good time to think about where the specialist
melodic rock labels are going – all that the majors do doesn’t really
count for a whole hill of beans for rock fans, and its still the specialists
that are the only labels providing some measure of support to it, whether
it’s genuine or not.
said it before, and I’ll say it again, for melodic rock to make a come back
to any useful degree, there has to be a US indie that gets the right sort of
success and makes the majors wake up. Some might say that CMC International
are just that sort of label, but the industry always views them as a “golden
oldie” specialist with bands like Styx and 38 Special on the label. Add
Judas Priest to the roster and you’ve a bit of cabaret feel! CMC really
seems to just be pumping product from established bands to their existing fan
base, and nothing else. In the US, Song Haus might become something of a force
in the long run, but they’re taking a “less is more/easy does it” policy
of concentrating on a few releases rather than getting suckered into releasing
too much too soon thus spreading their support too thin….
of the Europeans? Well, it’s all still a little provincial and you can’t
really see any of them emerging as a world force. But it is interesting to see
how they’re attitudes and positioning in the market is changing.
are they, then: MTM seems to be easing off the gas from their original hectic
release schedules in an effort to concentrate on promoting what they do
release properly; Frontiers seem like kids in a sweet shop signing everything
that moves and dreaming up solo projects from members of any half-established
band; Now and Then and Z Records seem to be trying to outdo each other in a
competition to have the heaviest (in a heavy metal sense) roster possible, and
moving away from AOR; Escape seems to be putting out the same old same old,
just with the names and musicians shuffled differently each time; and Point in
Germany still has to do something distinctive and original.
already seen some European labels go under, mainly because they set their
heights too high too quickly. But should they be content working to serve the
same parochial market? Expansion could prove risky, so most chose not to
way melodic rock is actually sold is killing it. Unless it’s easily compared
no one thinks it will sell. Making a release that mail order retailers can
describe as “just like Survivor” or “the best album Journey never
made” is the wrong way round to do things and, frankly, shameful. It’s
time for a new set of defining bands to appear….
next two years are going to be critical. The labels (and maybe the audience
too!) needs to move on and be part of a bigger picture that guarantees the
future health of melodic rock, so it’s not an insular clique trying to feel
superior. If that continues melodic rock as we know is dead! Sometime soon
creative new releases have to come, and that doesn’t mean rehashing old
material or finding some unreleased “undiscovered classic” album from 12
years ago to spearhead a release schedule!