Music Industry First as Marillion Fans Finance New Album, September 2000
In what is believed to be an unprecedented venture which could revolutionise the music industry, Marillion fans have financed the making of the band's latest album after an Internet whip-round raised over £100,000 - conclusive proof of the power of the Internet for artists and record companies alike.
Marillion, who have been writing and recording for almost 20 years, approached their database of over 30,000 fans via e-mail, as an alternative to taking up the deals they were being offered from established record companies. The response was overwhelmingly positive: within 3 weeks fans offered to pre-pay for the album, to the tune of 5% of total world-wide expected sales, providing enough money to cover the costs of making their 12th studio album. In doing so, a record company advance was rendered redundant and the band retained the rights to their new music.
This groundbreaking idea enabled the band to return to EMI Records who have agreed to license the album for a world-wide marketing and distribution deal. The album will be released in Spring 2001 through their Liberty label.
Any pre-orders will be manufactured and fulfilled by Marillion's own Internet mail-order company, Racket Records, and shipped on the week of release. Fans pre ordering albums within an initial limited period will be thanked personally in the sleeve notes of the special first edition of the album. Marillion will cease manufacture and sale of the pre-ordered version upon the album release after which the album will be available only at retail.
Commenting on the initiative, Lucy Jordache, Marillion's marketing manager said: "We were being offered deals from various record companies, but what the guys really wanted, was to have total control of their music, yet still be able to utilise the expertise and distribution facilities of a major record label. This could only be achieved if we obtained the capital to record an album from another source, and then took the finished product to a label. This is a real testament to the loyal support of Marillion's fans, old and new. It also demonstrates the power of the Internet and what it has to offer both artists and the record industry as a whole. 95% of the band's market still remains beyond the scope of the pre-order idea, so retailers should see no noticeable loss in potential sales. Indeed, an upturn is expected as Marillion return to their original EMI stable."
EMI Liberty's co-director Peter Duckworth added: "We were very impressed with this venture which we believe breaks new ground in the industry. We are all in a win, win situation, EMI are happy, retail is happy, the band are happy and the fans are extremely happy."
Marillion are no strangers to harnessing the power of the Internet. They were one of the first groups in the UK to set up a web-site, ("http://www.marillion.com"), in the mid 90's to communicate with and sell Marillion products to their fans - fans from as far and wide as Brazil to Japan and Australia to Iceland. They now have an active database of over 30,000 fans who visit their web-site on an average weekly basis.
UK fans objecting to a chance remark by Simon Mayo on Radio 1 last summer, brought the radio station's computer system to a standstill when they emailed to complain and demanded he play a Marillion track. He subsequently interviewed keyboard-player Mark Kelly on air in an attempt to understand and appease the phenomenal passion of Marillion's audience.
Back in '97 American fans underwrote an entire US tour to the tune of $60,000, with donations following an internet campaign - an idea conceived and managed by the fans before any involvement by the band.
Lead singer, Steve "h" Hogarth adds: "It's not just about the money - the Internet allows us to communicate directly to our fans world-wide in a way that's spontaneous and instant. It's a two-way communication process that's changed everything for us - the fans feel like a world-wide family now. Faith moves mountains so watch out."
Anoraknophobia Press Release
Release Date: 7 May 2001
THEN LISTEN . . .
"You're all wrong about Marillion. Whatever you thought you knew about this record, forget it. Just put it on and listen to it." Steve Hogarth
There aren't many bands in this cynical, money driven world who have fans as appreciative as Marillion's. In fact, it's a struggle to think of any other band who could ask their fan-base to pre-order and pay for an album twelve months prior to its release. And then get 12,000 positive replies replete with cheques. Clearly, they know something that most of the rest of the world apparently doesn't...
'Anoraknophobia' is the band's twelfth studio album, and is a contemporary, subtle and extremely relevant collection of tracks, created by a band who have gone way past caring what the cynics believe. So if you're expecting an album crammed with self-indulgent and inconsequential prog-rock, then you're in for a disappointment.
This is an important and contemporary album that is light years removed from anything the band have created in their past. It deserves to be reviewed in a manner that is both accurate and fair. So, our challenge to you is to firstly listen to the album. Then write a review without using any of the following words:
"Progressive rock", "Genesis", "Fish", "heavy metal", "dinosaurs", "predictable", "concept album"
Because if you do, we'll know that you haven't listened to it.
Marillion - 'Anoraknophobia'
1. Between You and Me
3. Map of the World
4. When I Meet God
5. The Fruit Of The Wild Rose
6. Separated Out
7. This Is The 21st Century
8. If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill
Between You and Me SIngle Press Release
"B.O.G.O.F.F!" say MARILLION.. (They're at it again...)
'Buy One Get One For Free' scheme aims to break down barriers to airplay.
Yet again Marillion are banishing the standard music industry practices with the release of their new double A side single 'Between You And Me/Map Of The World'. In another unprecedented project, fans buying the single from their popular website, www.marillion.com, are being given a free copy for each single bought. The fans are then sending the free copy (along with a letter and band biography provided by Marillion) to their local radio station to encourage its airplay. And with over 10,000 copies set to be posted to local radio stations world-wide, the band's exposure is set to be massively enhanced.
Lead singer, Steve "h" Hogarth said, "Look around, listen around. Surely the music business has to change.. How do REAL bands compete with the Hear'Say/Britney Spears astronomical marketing/promotion spend? This experiment enables us to plough any profits straight into promotion AND to mobilise our legendary fans to raise a concerted voice to radio and, to a lesser extent, the media. On balance, we decided our own independent release is the way to go. It's great that EMI have the vision to let us run with this. There's been a lot of indifference to us at radio. Now we're in a position to let everyone know we're alive-and-well with the best weapons we have - our music and our fans - check it out..."
This latest initiative follows their recent ground breaking venture when the recording of their latest album, ''Anoraknophobia''', was entirely financed by fans pre-ordering the album. By the time of the album release, an astonishing 13,000 fans had already paid for their copies. This dispensed with the need for a record company advance to cover recording costs, as well as allowing the band to retain the rights to their music. EMI records then licensed the album for a world-wide marketing and distribution deal via their Liberty label. The scheme has already led to a number of copy cat initiatives from other well-known bands, including Dodgy and The Levellers.
As well as much press and media interest, this venture has also seen the band appear on the recent BBC2 documentary, 'The Future Just Happened' explaining how the concept of Internet self-financing has worked for them. And with the innovative single release, Marillion are once again proving that the combination of faithful fans, the Internet and radical thinking can ensure the continued success of both their business and their contemporary music.
Robert Adams, Rock Sound, April 2001 (5 out of 5 Stars)
I haven't listened to Marillion since I was a kid in the mid 80's. After listening to 'Anoraknophobia' I had to check the sleeve to make sure that this was the same band I remember from my spotty youth. Gone are all the Genesis references and in their place is almost a dance feel. Leave your preconceptions of the band at the door and buy this album now, it's that good. Play Quartz to your friends and rake in loads of cash betting them they won't recognise who it is. It sounds like Massive Attack, full of rolling funky bass lines and subtle guitar touches. The biggest thing holding Marillion back is the name and all the baggage it carries.
Marillion are relevant in 2001. I am on the floor having been felled by an enormous feather. A phoenix like rebirth.
John Hegarty, Hardroxx, April 2001 (9 out of 10)
Marillion are going to great lengths to play down their prog/art rock past and bill themselves as 'more akin to Massive Attack', but this would come as no surprise to anyone who's heard the recent offerings. But, although I like a bit of Prog as much as the next man, probably more so, I can still relate to what Marillion are about now, they just sometimes drag things out a bit. OK this is an accusation commonly thrown at Prog bands, but Marillion don't drag it out in that way, its more a case of often having to wait quite a while for something to happen.
Now having got that off my chest, I have to say the 'Strange Engine' album was pretty damn good, I missed '.COM', but 'Anoraknophobia' seems to lead on quite well from the 'Strange Engine' direction. The drums are getting less Rock and more dub sounding, there's very few widdly bits, (on the surface at least) and the emphasis is more on atmosphere than anything else.
'Between You And Me' is the kind of upbeat thing that harks back a little to their past, and this is followed by 'Quartz', a bit more moody, I think this would be cause for some Massive Attack comparisons, but as I haven't heard that kind of thing since my student days, I can't be too sure! There's also a touch of U2 influence here. After the nine minutes of that one, the happy guitar riff of 'Map Of The World' is a welcome mood change, and with its acoustic guitar and sing a long chorus, a possible single I reckon.
'When I Meet God' is one of my favourites, clever lyrics, and dare I say it even a bit progressive (albeit in a rather subtle way). Track 5 'The Fruit Of The Wild Rose' is quite interesting, a kind of techno Blues tune with some very tasty guitar from good old Rothery, who belts out a trademark riff afterwards in 'Separated Out'. This one also features some nice Doors keyboards in places.
Things get even more modern sounding in 'This Is The 21st Century', lots of spacey keyboard sounds and heavily processed guitars, and THAT drum sound, this gets very Floydian towards the end. The final track 'If My heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill' is perhaps the most musically interesting of all, Pete Trewavas pulling out a Bass line you'd expect to hear in his Transatlantic role, and there's a very off the wall guitar solo too.
Overall it sounds like the band are on top form, very confident, and have really embraced newer forms of music without sounding like bandwagon jumpers. Then again when you manage to get some twelve thousand of your fans to pre-pay, and hence finance the album, confidence can't be a problem. I like this album, I seem to like it more with every listen, and hear more of it each time, which, for a part time fan is big praise. I reckon even fashion conscious friends won't be able to write this off as old hat.
Catherine Chambers, Kerrang!, May 2001 (4 out of 5 Stars)
In the greater scheme of things you'd be hard pressed to see how a bunch of middle-aged blokes who've spent the best part of the last decade trying desperately hard to shake off the prog rock tag, are able to make a worthwhile contribution to Planet Rock in 2001.
Recent efforts have seen 80's melodic rockers Marillion churning out consistent but admittedly fairly bland bollocks. Which is why it comes as a shock that this album is actually pretty damn good.
Marillion have never given a flying fuck what anyone in the world things of them. Still, this their 12th LP, conjures up a pretty contemporary feel with it's classy mix of blues, country, and even trip-hop stylings. And it's all molded together with Steve Hogarth's rich other-worldly vocals.
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
Philip Wilding, Classic Rock, May 2001 (4 out of 5 Stars)
The band's 12th studio album may shy away from a tirade of startling time signatures, lyrics bordering on the asinine and grown men in cloaks, but they're still happy to string songs out for seven or eight minutes at a time. Remarkably, they rarely dawdle or overstay initial invitation even if they're mostly medium paced and full of yearning. Hogarth's voice has rarely sounded better and when the band jam a song to it's conclusion - which they invariably do - the musical components sound succinct and understated. Ultimately things get a little wobbly on the final track 'If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill', which shows off as much as its title suggests it might. It sounds like a rehearsal room jaunt that should have stayed there and leaves and unduly sour taste with regard to the rest of the album.
Otherwise, however, it's a collection full of grace and tenacity, thoughtful and thought provoking and not without moments of real clarity and beauty. 'This Is The 21st Century' wouldn't have looked out of place on Kate Bush's 'The Red Shoes' (an album not made in the last month, sorry) while 'Between You And Me' and 'Map Of The World' and the haunting and haunted 'When I Meet God' shimmer and shine unabashed.
A progressive piece of work then, but not in the way you might at first think.
Channel 4 Teletext, April 2001 (8 out of 10)
Doves, U2, Radiohead, Massive Attack, The La's... just some of the bands one would not have expected to be name-checked in this review, but Anoraknophobia confirms that The New Marillion are one of UK music's most sublime secrets.
21st century is a dubby groove that builds to a tear-jerking climax, Quartz is a psychotic funk monster, and Between You and Me comes over like the better-looking sibling of U2's Beautiful Day. Embrace the anorak.