Web bands are the Net's big thing

No Smokers without fire: Web sites act as screening tool

Nottingham-based hip-hop band Smokers Blend 3000 has reason to be thankful for the Internet Thursday as they become the first UK band to be signed via the Web.

Smokers Blend 3000 put their music on Web site musicunsigned.com -- an online music library formed to champion unsigned talent -- in September. One month later and they have signed a deal with record label One Step.

According to musicunsigned.com, around 95 percent of signed UK bands fail because the decision to sign is not based on what the music-buying public actually want. To counteract this, musicunsigned.com road test the popularity of bands on its site. Musicunsigned.com's A&R man Stuart Feeney, believes the Internet could completely change the way record labels search out talent. "In our case it has," says Feeney. "We're getting emails every couple of minutes and two or three other bands are under offer. For A&R departments it saves them quite a bit of work as we pre-screen artists. For bands it gives them a chance to be heard rather than having their demos lost in the sea of tapes record labels get every day," he says.

Another musicunsigned.com recruit, pop band Online is currently being courted by "one of the majors" according to Feeney.

Peoplesound.com -- due to launch shortly -- also trials out new artists as well as offering bands the chance to sell their music online. Vice president of business development Bruno Heese, believes the Web will become the new medium for talent spotting. "It cuts down all the inefficiencies. At the click of a mouse, rather than spending hours in smoky nightclubs, A&R people can find talent," he says. Heese believes the key to Web-based A&R will be to have a broad range of music from techno to classical. Peoplesound currently has 1000 bands on its site.

Smokers Blend 3000 is certainly happy to be promoted via the Internet. "We've been working up to this for over a year. Musicunsigned.com has got us the recognition we've been looking for and has got us signed," says band manager Dominic Owen.

Bands promoted by unsignedmusic.com have to pay a flat fee of £12.50 per week for a minimum of 13 weeks.

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