September 1, 2023

How the Music Industry Missed a Big Digital Opportunity in the 1990s

When I started getting into the Internet sometime around 1995, one of the first sites I discovered was IUMA, the Internet Underground Music Archive.  As far as anyone can tell, this was the first place on the Internet where anyone could discovered new, unsigned acts.  It was brilliant.

But IUMA was too far ahead of the game. takes this long read look at IUMA.

Jeff Patterson wanted everyone to try Zima. It was the early 1990s and he’d brought a few six-packs into the offices of the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA).

IUMA, co-founded by Patterson, was the first major online outlet where fans could download the music of unsigned musicians, and it needed money. Zima, the now-defunct “alcopop” beverage, had offered to install a banner advertisement on IUMA’s homepage, a groundbreaking revenue idea at the time. So Patterson called an all-hands meeting and passed out bottles to a staff of hackers hell-bent on overturning the music industry.

But IUMA had to keep it real. If they liked Zima, the banner ad would go up; if they didn’t, they’d decline the cash. After a few sips, Patterson recalls, “we said no fucking way were we going to have Zima.

“So we turned them down.”

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 36974 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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