Best Online Publishers: Music

Music Section Makes and Breaks Artists

MySpace is not only the most popular destination on the Internet, it’s also become known as the leading site for breaking and launching new artists. “People are making their careers on MySpace,” says Nick Cooper, founder of the Web site that features interviews with recording artists.

Of the 140 million profiles on the youth-skewing site, nearly 3 million are for bands. My Space Music wins user kudos because it catalogs all music content in one place, with tabs for featured artists, top artists, and shows. Fans can also browse by genre, with artists segmented into unsigned, indie, and major-label acts. The site has a search engine to help find specific artists, linking to the artist’s page where songs load automatically. What’s more, MySpace users can add artists as friends, further enhancing the tie between Web visitors and bands. Last fall, My Space introduced its first e-commerce service, enabling fans to buy music.

You Tube, with more than 35 million unique visitors a month, is the dominant online video destination, and it’s earned that moniker in part because of the prevalence of music videos peppering its pages. If a Web user enters a search for a musician on virtually any video search engine, the first set of results usually includes a music video or live performance tucked away somewhere on YouTube. The caveat, though, is that a lot of those videos are unauthorized copies. But YouTube aimed to tackle that problem last fall when it inked deals with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, and Warner Music Group that enable You Tube visitors to include licensed artists in their homespun videos. As these corporate partnerships play out in 2007, keep an eye on whether YouTube can maintain and even grow its music cachet.

Meanwhile, there’s Apple’s iTunes Store, which single-handedly made legal à la carte consumption of music possible. The iTunes Store features more than 3.5 million songs and has sold more than 1.5 billion tunes, accounting for at least 75 percent of U.S. online music sales.

On the edgier side of online music venues is Pandora, a customizable Web radio tool that lets music fans create an Internet station on the fly. If you like James Blunt, Pandora crafts a Web player with songs from Blunt and other artists with similar stylings.

Finally, the indie music haven of eMusic fills in the cracks in the tunes inventory, as a subscription service that includes more than 1.4 million tracks from more than 4,000 independent labels.

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