by Richard Menta, 12/03/03
The independent artists who used to grace the home page of MP3.com were long gone shortly after Vivendi took over that site 2 years ago. They were replaced by popular Universal artists who were to then get all the visibility from that most visible page. The music of unknown musicians and spoken word jockeys looking for some outlet was still there, but the site was no longer the effective promoter of the independent artists. It became just another site to promote their music group's big acts, the rest was ancilliary.
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Until last night there were 1.6 million songs in the catalog. This morning they are all gone. Former MP3.com CEO Michael Robertson's pleas to save them fell on deaf ears. The request from Archive.org to house all of them for historical purposes was ignored.
And that is not surprising as any music not owned by the largest music label is considered competition to their own heavily promoted artists. Vivendi Music group's new owners didn't want to support MP3.com anymore and all that music would only be a distraction. There was a lot of mediocrity on MP3.com, hardly competition for Sheryl Crow or U2, but why take chances.
As for the unsigned artists, 1.6 million songs makes a lot of white noise so the original promises of exposure were limited to those few who managed to rise above the din of a dozen or so genres. It was was a step in the right direction though, offering some exposure even if the plan never fully materialized for most.
The new owner of the MP3.com URL, CNET claims it is going to rebuild its own artists site. How accurate that statement will be remains to be seen. Big music has succeeded in dismantling independent Net Radio. It has now dismantled the largest site for unsigned artists.
For all of MP3.com's limitations, this is a sad thing.
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Other MP3 stories:
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CDs and the Scarcity Principle