Andreas Georgiou and George Michael, founders of Aegean.net
But the website’s the REAL story here.
In May 1997, a year after the release of his third solo album “Older” and a full year before the launch of David Bowie’s vaunted internet portal BOWIE.NET, Aegean.net announced the launch of a suite of innovative interactive and e-commerce elements to connect George, his music and the music of other Aegean artist to their fans.
The QA from the site – mid-1998
This was a big deal when most every artist website looked something like this and the music portals at the time looked like this and this.
As an Internet executive at the time, I experienced the website first hand, and I was impressed with what they were doing – they made real the future of music I saw in my head.
Aegean.net was the first artist-owned website to allow fans to:
Participate in chat with music artists (including George Michael)
Purchase and download music (via Liquid Audio)
Audio/video streaming (via Real Video)
Join the first online-only fan club (at an annual cost of $21.99 + a CD-ROM for access)
Exclusive news and updates from George and other Aegean artists
Participation in polls, contests and messaging with George, other members and artists.
NO ONE was doing anything near this at the time. NO ONE.
George and Andreas were pushing the limits of 1997-1998 Internet technology – it was a massive technical undertaking, and the fact that they pulled it off is one of the Internet’s most unsung achievements.
Here’s more from an interview with Andreas Georgiou in 1997:
So what happened to Aegean.net?
Well, based on my observation at the time and the evolution of the website, it seems like George lost interest in the project, and Andreas moved on in 1999.
In later years, the URL forwarded to the georgemichael.com website, and is now owned by Pay-Per-Click company Fabulous.com.
Which is a shame, as Aegean.net was years ahead of its time – hosting chats with over 20,000 people, selling merch and music online – they had a real genesis of something much bigger.
George Michael as George Michael (singing “Faith), “Eli Stone,” 2008
And though his artistic life continued apace, with the release of “Patience,” his fourth and final album of original material, an extensive world tour between 2005-2010, his acting debut in 2008 in the short-lived TV series Eli Stone, the release of a re-make of New Order’s “True Faith,” the prophetic single “White Light” and the orchestral reworking of his music and subsequent Symphonica tour and album, like many, I stopped paying attention to George Michael save for when a BBC News alert came through my iPhone’s transom with an update on his latest escapade, run in with the law or industry accolade.
Chase “Freedom” Card commercial using “Freedom ’90,” 2016
It was through such a news alert that I found out about his death on Christmas evening. And though I was saddened, I wasn’t shocked. He lived as hard as he worked, he was a good person, he helped many people, and he left a lasting musical legacy.
Not a bad way to leave the planet.
“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” Sync in “Zoolander,” 2001
Rest In Peace George. You were, as the video below testifies, one of the greatest recording artists – and tech innovators – of all time.
George Michael’s “Freedom ’90” sync in “Keanu,” 2016
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