Column from August 9th, 1999 issue

Getting bored with record companies banking their future growth on finding a well to develop/exploit the internet? Well, I’ve recently come across a new company that seems to be putting a more interesting spin on things….

Original co-founder of Chrysalis records Terry Ellis has got together with an internet mover and shaker by the name of Damian Aspinall (whom I’ve never heard of) to form which they hope will "wipe out the need for artists to rely on record firms to release their music". The new operation will have offices in both London and New York.

The intention is to download music from the site for free and then the theory is that the bands make money by setting up fan clubs, merchandising and routing. StarGig thinks that by that means bands would "no longer have to depend on royalties from CD sales, of which record companies take a significant cut" – like most of it!

Ellis goes on say that the internet is "the catalyst for the complete disruption of the music industry’s traditional economic model. It will vastly increase the number of musicians who are able to make a living from their creativity and will liberate the next generation of artists from the dominance of the big five record companies." And then striking a chord in this heart Ellis also adds: "The concentration of power into the hands of a few large record companies has meant that the business of music has become less about the careers of talented artists and more about the packaging of disposable consumer goods."

Couldn’t have the put the last bit any better myself. However, I’m still far from sure that this whole downloading concept is really what it appears to be. Fine if you’re in the US and have free local calls, but is the rest of the world going to spend hours on line just in case it’s music they like? And that’s not even taking into account sound quality issues…. To me the bigger issue is if any label or delivery means can realistically provide a rival to the lumbering major labels…..