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19 pop-culture windows into the world of 1994

6. Eagles reunite, paving the way for everyone else

Legend has it that at their final concert in 1980, various Eagles were shit-talking each other onstage, complete with physical threats. Don Henley states that the band would get back together—in spite of the obvious upside, since its records continued to sell—“when hell freezes over.” Naturally, that became the title of the band’s 1994 reunion album and subsequent tour, a cash grab that continues today, since clearly there’s still some bad blood. But the audiences and that cash was there, and a flood of big-name reunions followed in subsequent years, from The Sex Pistols 1996 to Black Sabbath 1997 to The Police 2007. There are still some holdouts, including Pink Floyd who did one charity gig and The Smiths, but reuniting for a big payday seems like the norm nowadays rather than the exception. [JM]

10. Aerosmith introduces downloadable music to the masses

It seems hard to believe, but Aerosmith was, for a while at least, a little bit groundbreaking. In 1994, fresh off its hit trilogy of “Crazy,” “Amazing,” and “Crying” videos, the group became the first act to debut a single online. Aerosmith’s “Head First” was an unused track from the Get A Grip sessions—not even a single—but was downloaded by over 10,000 CompuServe customers in its first eight days online, mainly via line command “GO AEROSMITH.” That’s kind of impressive when you consider the 4.3 MB file took most users between 60 and 90 minutes to download and that Geffen Records’ online services division had only launched the year before, with its head, Robert Von Goeben, given just $300 per band to make websites for acts like Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, and Beck. In the press release accompanying the news about the download, Steven Tyler noted that, if Aerosmith’s “fans are out there driving down that information superhighway,” that his band wants “to be playing at the truck stop.” [ME]

13. Warner buys a 49 percent stake in Sub Pop, ushering in the era of big labels throwing money behind little ones

Though the deal didn’t actually kick in until January 1, 1995, the big-money merger between Sub Pop and Warner Bros. actually happened in 1994, with the major label throwing a reported $20 to $30 million at the Seattle-based indie in exchange for a 49 percent chunk of the then-booming company. Warner was probably banking on hopes that the whole grunge phenomenon would keep paying out and dramatically overpaid, with each of Sub Pop’s two founders—Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt—walking away from the deal with a reported $4 million. While Sub Pop would spend the next six or seven years struggling to stay afloat, with Poneman reportedly putting “millions” of his own dollars into the company, the move marked the first modern instance of a major label recognizing the power of an indie, with many major labels now bankrolling smaller “indie” labels like Harvest, Loma Vista, and Nonesuch, and indie labels using major label distribution companies like the Alternative Distribution Alliance to get their product out into stores. [ME]

via The A.V. Club.

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