Mean Fiddler, the music firm behind Reading and Fleadh festivals has, in a long-awaited briefing on its stock market flotation, revealed plans to start a digital TV channel.
Meanfiddler.com shares, which 'topped 10p' in August 2000, were suspended this January after the merger plans were first outlined.
What does this mean for The Music Scene then?
Well, after 'helping out' with the Reading Festival in 1989, then buying all rights to it 4 years later, Mean Fiddler Holdings (MFH) have been supporting, then buying all manner of music related venues, festivals and clubs, the little 'Mean Fiddler' name/logo might look innocent enough on ticket stubs, but when you realise they own so much of your access to music/entertainment, how does it look then?
"Bosses at the Mean Fiddler empire, which has grown from a single club in north London in 1982 into an international concern, have said they will launch the channel within two years." reports the BBC's business section. The plan is to merge the 2 sections on Mean Fiddler, Mean Fiddler Holdings, the festivals and venue business, with its sister firm Meanfiddler.com, which runs internet and rights operations.
Details released on the 13th of July mentioned the founding of an "Interactive digital TV station" to; "exploit further its festival operations, and tap a live music market which grew by 8% a year between 1994 and 2000."
Vince Power, former demolition worker and second-hand furniture salesman, still owns more than one-third of Mean Fiddler Holdings (MFH), and could stand to make more than £10m from the merger/stockmarket flotation - remember that when you're paying £5 for a hamburger in a £80(plus booking fee) festival this summer...
Merging the 2 companies will positively benefit consumers (oooh, buisness talk)... The new company, to be named Mean Fiddler Music Group, will allow managers to cut better deals with bands and record companies, due to the greater concentration of money and resources, but could also lead to offers that people couldn't refuse, in true mafia style..
"..it will allow the firm to launch an acquisition spree, both in the UK and abroad"
But isn't this a good thing, in the days owned by AOL-Time-Warner and Sony-Columbia-Tristar? A UK based company building itself up from a single club to a UK music/entertainment giant in only 2 decades?
"AOL Time Warner Inc. is in talks to buy U.K. based publisher IPC Media and an agreement expected to be announced next week."
IPC's quite big, people might not have realised it, but spent their formative years buying almost exclusivly IPC magazines, NME, Melody Maker, Loaded etc, this company while large and sucessful, seems to be heading towards the trophy cabinet on AOL-Time INC. Smaller and 3rd party companies are all being drawn into the large Multinational company powerplays, and the new Mean Fiddler Music Group, while wanting to expand in the future, might just find itself part of someone elses expansion, such a well built and concentrated music/entertainment company would be a nice addition to any Media Giant's portfolio.
With Vince Power only holding a third of stock, even his ideas of expanding building the company further could come under threat from a larger invester, this could result, of course, in a golden age of music media, cheaper festivals, better deals for new bands, cleaner, larger venues... shiney, happy people everywhere!
It all depends on your faith in Big Buisness, will they do nice things for us, the kidz, or will they see us as just another target market, consumers to be exploited? Hippies will always moan when The Man and money is involved with music, that's only human, but is a large buisness human? will investors thousands of miles away care about hamburger pricing, toilet maintance or promoting small bands?
And they shouldn't. Why? because they're investors they use money to make money, where and how they don't need to know about, and that is the 'problem' with companies, they see numbers, you see broken dreams, they see a new ivory back scratcher, you see weeks of part-time job money go on a festival ticket.
"Made-for-TV band" HearSay held its first gig at Mean Fiddler's Astoria venue, Daphne and Celeste at Reading was fun, would HearSay headlining be good tho? Yhey'd probably sell more tickets than, well, Spineshank for instance? Bottom Line. Corporate music might just be a few dancers miming along to a recycled tune, but it's cheap and makes a lot of money, more than the option of promoting and showcasing 4 kids from a rubbish town with guitars, that's not a new idea.
No, the new idea is that, soon, there might not be that option. Reading/Leed festival is already known as The Carling Festival not that much of a leap of imagination towards The AOL-Time-Warner-Sony-Columbia-Tristar Festival is it? Sure, lots of advertising, international stars from each of the companies many record labels, but would you go to Reading to see Brian Adams, Lenny Kravitz and Limp Bizkit, probabaly on the New Bands Stage, new because a few people still don't own the latest £30 CD. Oh and all stages compared by the AOL patronising internet help girl, then go ahead, sit back, but, to paraphrase Atari Teenage Riot, if you buy into this, be aware