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Alternative Music: The ashes are amongst us, by Andy Duke.

Here we are at the fag end of the twentieth century and, at least in popular musical terms, we are surrounded by nothing but ash. I am not referring to the fag butt influenced Northern Irish band either.
Although some people of advancing years claim that life begins at forty, the same cannot be said of rock and roll and its offshoots. Rock of the popular variety is a very sick forty something indeed.

Morrissey said in a 1987 South Bank special that "ultimately pop music will end". Although i do not subscribe to his decade old view, I feel that the music industry needs an intense kick up the backside. When Robbie Williams and the heavily derivative 'Millennium'are heralded as the respective face and song of the year by the British media, there is a clear indication that something is wrong. But what are the alternatives? 'Alternative Music' may now be a genre in its own right but, if the recent Capital Radio buyout/take-over of London's once alternative XFM station is anything to go by, it's merely a new branch on the mainstream tree. The redefinition of alternative music doesn't just affect Marshall and Vox Powered guitars either. Squelching bass lines, once exclusive to club specific dance music, are now being used to promote Levis jeans with the help of an adorable French puppet. The Shires have discovered acid house eleven years too late! This pheonmenon affects you more than you might think.
Auntie Beryl from the Midlands, the one who your mum tells you is a great cook, is now "turning in and dishing out" to ambient dance music which is being used to spice up cookery programmes. The Orb and Herbs - Sophie Griegson considers it to be a beautiful combination on her cooking show.

New music is sinking into a ever increasing retrogressive abyss. Today major labels are far more interested in buying up back catalogues thenin signing up new bands. Even the more established independent labels are doing it. Creation Records, for instance, recently dropped 18 Wheeler and other acts from their new-ish roster in favor of ex-Dexy's Midnight Runner Kevin Rowlands. Mad for new music? Label boss Alan McGee certainly isn't. The sad truth is that Brooklyn and Phoenix Spice will probably earn more money from their first Hello and Now magazine photo spreads than the British music industry is likely to spend on new acts in the next year. My advice to new bands - become spice Girl sprogs. The major labels will then be "giving you everthing".

The fag end of the twentieth century seems to be a period in which everything goes but nothing is happening. The food is tastier though. - Your Preperation H to Success, By Andy Duke.

You're in a band, you've got the tunes, you've got the look (cue either the Roxette or Prince namesake 80s track) and you've got a name. Or do you? The Oxfordshire based '' can find out how unique your band's collective title actually is. And that is only the start. In addition to their extensive international A to Z register of band names, they also put a bit of muscle in helping unsigned bands to get a deal via their bi-monthly CD compilations. These apparently do the rounds in many an A&R person's CD player as well. All that they ask for is a faecal hot demo. No money need change hands. Not bad eh? This lot can evn promote your gigs for you.

As means of testing the virtual water for IMP's illustrious readers, I created a colourfully titled musical side project called 'Botty Ointment' (sorry readers, if you want the name - it is now too late!) to register via ''. After conducting a search of their register to find out if any other musical prodigies had taken my arse healing (as opposed to kicking) name, I entered all of my particulars and, spicy pesto I was registered. '' furnishes its members with registration numbers and provides a useful password facility to enable secuire future updates. More importantly, the service provided me with piece of mind knowing that 'Botty Ointment' was truly mine.

Cyber friendly musicians will also be pleased to know that band web pages and e-mail addresses can ve included in the register and are featured in a separate directory at the site as well.

To say that the directory is concise would be an understatement. Taking a walk down 'memory name' (excuse the pun), I entered the names of several bands that I was involved with in the days before Geri squeezed her sizable assets into Union Jack minidresses. I can safely report that big brother is alive and well in the form of '' as four of my previous bands were in the directory - including dates and venue details of gigs long forgotten. It appears that the service has scouted the listings of established musical venues to include on the directory. You may be registered without realising it.

'' is not a flash in the pan either. It has certainly received a stamp of approval from the music industry. Among the organisations in the UK who recommend the Band Register to their members are the MU (Musicians Union), the IMF (International Managers Forum), the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), the PRS (Performing Rights Society) and MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society). This is serious stuff. They also offer legal advice regarding not only your name but on other music related matters. They can also help to promote your Gig(s) via their on-lin music magazine.

As a founding member of 'Botty Ointment' and a registered entity with '', I am now reachable by A & R people and the general public in a way that I never thought possible. It is truly my 'preparartion h' for success.