Column from April 26th, 1999

A whole group of UK independent labels are considering plans to launch their own internet sales venture. The "Association of Independent Music" (AIM) which has many members including high profile, but lacking in rock worth, labels like Beggars Banquet and Creation is in talks right now with software developers, media groups and internet service providers about setting up the service. However, the group emphasises that the venture is still "at an early stage of development".

With the on-line sales market beginning dominated by huge and powerful groups like Amazon and CD Now (or at least its frequently perceived that way), grouping together smaller labels in this way should help them keep pace with the multinationals. Similarly, a group of independent US book publishers recently unveiled similar proposals for a jointly-owned retail site.

Moves like that make a lot of sense, but it also highlights a problem with the current melodic rock scene. Not that many of the current labels appreciate the power of the internet and many don’t understand that with the mainstream in such a shabby state they have to be marketing their output on a global basis.

It’s all very well having a pretty site that gives information of your releases and sleeve shots, but such labels really should consider conducting direct sales. That would just make it that one step easier for interested listeners to instantly order the release that’s caught their fancy, rather than having to jump to the site of a third party retailer and searching through a catalogue. Don’t misconstrue the point I’m making, the specialist stores are vital to the scene as well, but direct sales might be one of those things that helps expand the horizons of the current labels a bit better.

Returning to the AIM’s group plans, the sad thing is that there is not one overtly rock label involved. OK, that’s a result of the aforementioned depressing mainstream but, at the same time, if melodic rock is to ever make up any of its lost ground, then it has to move back into the mainstream someway and rub shoulders with the material that caused its decline in the first place. If it cuts itself off too much then it’ll be predilected to setting its targets on the same group of listeners for every release over and over again.

New Hampshire’s 8084 now have a new version of their excellent track "Bad Man" available through their web site in MP3 and RealAudio formats. Surf into and check it out. The track is also intended to act as a preview from their forthcoming European release "So Far".

Keep checking out the AOR Basement site ( I’m just finishing off some new reviews right now, yes I know "finally"!!!!