Column from December 21st, 1998

Great news that Airrace’s solitary album from 1984 – "Shaft of Light" – is coming on CD in Japan on January 25th. To me that was a landmark album from a British band of the time, and it still easily matches up as one of the best out-and-out AOR albums ever recorded by a band. Much more sophisticated song-writing that the current crop of bands, and a fine production from Beau Hill, right before he went right down hill! (Honestly, no pun intended…)

On the big picture of the overall music industry, Seagram has now completed its purchase of Polygam – only $11 billion involved…. Sticking Polygram together with Universal will create a real colossus holding some 24% market share of the overall $38 billion a year music market! Big money yes, but the financial community is still valuing it as a gamble.

Can it be good for the music industry? I doubt it Seagram will be too big to react to anything, and they are going to have to turn in some big profits quickly to prove to Wall Street that they haven’t just wasted an enormous amount on a pipe dream! Seagram says that putting the two organisations together should save $300 million per annum, but I can’t see that that is the best selling point to start out with for a new organisation….

All the other music pundits seem to think that internet distribution is the main threat to the long-term health of the music market. But, I think this is likely to turn out to be a real red herring in the long-term, particularly in Europe where local calls aren’t free and internet subscriber penetration is relatively modest.

Got a whole heap of days off over the Xmas period so look for a job lot of new reviews to be uploaded to the AOR Basement site (http://www.aorbasement.com/) in that time. Already got several in progress and I’ve some new, relatively obscure releases lined up for coverage that should catch people’s attention….