Fledgling Web sites help indie musicians

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The next Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube: There are millions of dot-coms out there,
all claiming to be the next bonanza.

But the five below are actually likely to make waves in the
indie world in 2008 -- using new models, new takes on old
models and emerging technologies to help artists get shows,
sales, and song placement on films and TV shows.

Indie acts need not worry about the cost, either -- all the
sites detailed here are free to use.

AmieStreet.com: While the debate about how much a song is
worth rages on, Amie Street (http://www.amiestreet.com) uses a
variable pricing structure that lets fans do the math. All
songs start out free and top out at 98 cents; the song's price
rises commensurate with the number of times it is downloaded.
The site rewards tastemakers by allowing them to earn credit
for recommending songs that go on to sell big, and the ability
to download music for free is designed to appeal to broke
students. While Amie Street has yet to break an unknown act, it
has helped more than a few build audiences: The band Middle
Distance Runner, for instance, has risen from being a virtually
unknown outside Washington, D.C., to playing packed Bowery
Ballroom shows in New York since it joined the site last
March.

SirGroovy.com: As licensing becomes an ever-greater part of
a band's income, Sir Groovy (http://www.sirgroovy.com) connects
indie acts to music supervisors who want big-name sounds
without having to pay big-name money. The site also takes care
of all the negotiations and clearances, and bands are allowed
to categorize their tracks in a variety of unusual ways to help
catch the eyes and ears of supervisors. The site is still in
its infancy, but has had some luck placing tracks by bands
including the Sleeping, Jen Chapin, Five Times August and
Flickerstick.

Paltalk.com: When aspiring Australian musician Kitana
wanted to reach beyond her hometown to set up gigs and find
collaborators, she turned to video-chat site Paltalk
(http://www.paltalk.com) . Live cams allow musicians to jam
together in real time, perform for fans and seek feedback about
new music. In Kitana's case, she found a producer in Scotland
and worked with him via the site and e-mail to create an album.
Paltalk has also recently launched a number of programs that
allow more established acts to perform for and connect with
listeners.

Eventful.com: Indie bands unaware they had a rabid fan base
in Lithuania -- and other young acts apprehensive about turnout
when they hit the road -- will appreciate Eventful(http://www.eventful.com), ``user-generated touring'' site that
lets fans request performances and organize gigs for their
favorite acts. More than 30,000 artists, 29,000 of them indies,
use the site to organize gigs and find out where their most
obsessive fans live. CEO Jordan Glazier says that those who
pledge to come out via the site almost always turn up. In fact,
he reports that promoters have started asking indie bookers,
``What is your Eventful demand number?''

OurStage.com: This site (http://www.ourstage.com) aims to
be a ``democratic competition where the fans decide who's best
in emerging entertainment.'' Indie folks post their content, and
fans get to act like amateur Simon Cowells by giving it the
thumbs up or down. At the end of each month, the
highest-ranking videos in each genre-based channel face off
against one another, with the grand-prize winner taking home
$5,000. Unsigned acts that receive plenty of votes can also win
coverage on Paste and CMJ's Web sites and opening slots at
Soulive's New Year's Eve show and the Miami PLUG Awards.

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