Earlier this month, news broke that Ram Records, one of drum and bass’ most famous record labels, had been acquired by BMG, former bedfellows of major label Sony Music Group. Whilst some would argue the musical output of recent years has been alluding to such a deal, the acquisition came as a relative shock to most in the scene.
There are clearly pros and cons of such an arrangement. Many have been very sceptical of the move, considering Ram to be ‘selling out’ and cashing in on the investment from the considerable payouts this may well have brought.
However, I feel these opinions are shortsighted and bred from anxiety rather than a considered response. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that this will be of huge benefit to our genre. Here’s why:
'We remain independent but we have access to their infrastructure and their resources to push the music further than we could on our own’.
These are the words of Andy C, the revered and respected head honcho of Ram. There is no doubt that this deal will deliver in this area. BMG have considerable global clout in the world of pop music, and an already international brand like Ram will use this to their advantage. It’s music will be pushed far and wide, infiltrating mainstream radio and TV influencers more so than it does already.
Whether you like the output or not, the benefits are clear to see. Joe Bloggs will hear a Ram tune on the radio. He will hear another Ram tune on the radio. He will do his homework on the artists and/or the label. As he digs around online, he will eventually discover the plethora of other artists making music he now enjoys, with their work containing many of the ingredients he enjoyed about that track he first heard. Hell, he may even come across Terabyte Records.
A few years later, Joe may even decide - as so many of us do - that what he liked some years ago doesn’t reflect what he likes now. He may decide he dislikes the mainstream vibe of that original Ram tune. He might even shut the door on Ram altogether, favouring underground labels and artists.
Joe may never have found himself at the deep end if he hadn’t dipped his little toe in the commercial waters occupied by Ram, thanks to their partnership with BMG.
Joe won’t be the only one with this mindset. Ram will become the gateway drug for future drum and bass addicts. Increased appetite for our sound will help inspire young artists, will increase bookings and record sales for existing artists, and increase parties for fans. In my mind there is simply no argument here; if you feel you want to keep new explorers away from your beloved music, you enjoy it for all the wrong reasons. Underground music has always been about a group of people coming together with a unified passion for doing things differently.
All in all, the future sound of Ram is a red herring in this story of commercial partnership. People will hear their music, and they will like it, even if you don’t. They will like it so much they will search for more of it, and once they go down the rabbit hole, they will find a whole world of things they never knew existed, which as it happens are the things that you like. They’ll like them too. Get used to it.
I wish Ram and BMG the very best of luck together.