Column from February 7th, 2000 issue
It might be the 21st Century now, but it appears the music business is still out of fresh ideas. While the mainstream media talks of the "exciting" Time Warner/EMI "merger", other labels are acting reactively without any form of serious thought behind their actions. It's a feature of our world now, that people do thinks because of what stock brokers and stock market watchers think rather than with some greater purpose. Warner's gone out and got EMI, and now everyone else has to be seen to react so as not to appear weak.... Ye gods!
First to feel the need to get their knee-jerk reaction in are Bertelsmann (BMG as they're normally known) and Sony. Yep, they're already talking about "co-operation" in the music operations. Neither has any official statement at this point, though they do admit "conversations" have taken place and stress it would only be a form of co-operation and certainly not a merger like Warner and EMI. Co-operation could focus on pooling manufacturing and distribution, but will that be enough to keep the suits on Wall Street and NASDAQ happy? BMG fancies the title of "The Biggest Music Group in the World", but they'll have to do a lot more than that to reach that point.... Even getting together with Sony would only give them around 29% of the market.
Only just a few short years ago there were six big labels, right now we have four, and if this continues, maybe soon it'll only be two. Even with six the majors were pretty out of touch, so it's only going to get worse and damage music off any category. Indications already are that European and US competition authorities are already beginning to take some serious interest in the music industry in the wake of Warner-EMI. If they do take a good look, what they see won't be pretty. The music business has become the most clearly exploitive industry in the world, but no-one wants to actually admit it....
Onto more interesting matters, New Jersey's Tradia have completed the recording and mixing of their long-awaited third album. It's already been delivered to UK label FM-Revolver though I'm not sure of the exact release date. Having heard an advance version, I must say it's really a lot more varied than I would have expected from a Journey-influenced pomp outfit, when it's good - it's really good, but a couple of the tracks come away as too modern....
The Good Rats are working on a new album right now (in the same vein as "Tasty Seconds" from a couple of years back). Most of the tracks are complete, but a few more are still being worked on. Band leader Peppi Marchello is also calling in his sons Gene and Stephan to appear on a few of the tracks.