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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2006, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Unsigned bands get download store
Paris Motel
Unsigned act Paris Motel are on the site (picture: Hugh Macdonald)
A new website is offering unsigned bands the means to sell their music over the internet. allows artists to set up their own web pages and charge fans for downloading their tracks.

Its owner, 7 Digital, already provides download stores for established acts like Coldplay and Gorillaz.

Sales will count towards the download charts, but bands will not be eligible for the main Top 40 unless their music is also available in shops.

Record labels are using the internet as a device to find new artists
Tony Byrne, record promoter

Managing director Ben Drury says the new service was inspired by the success of social networking website

"The problem with Myspace for bands is that they don't make any money from it, and they don't get into the charts," said Mr Drury.

Artists who sign up to keep up to 80% of the money made from sales, depending on the package they choose.

Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys fans traded their songs over the internet
It would only take "a few thousand" sales to make it into the UK's Top 40 downloads, said Gennaro Castaldo, an analyst for retail chain HMV.

However, he argues that artists "have to have a physical single" release, if they are to make money from their music.

He cites the example of the Arctic Monkeys, who are often said to have found fame after fans traded their songs over the internet.

"What that really did was to bring them to the attention of a record label," he says. "They got signed as a result of the fantastic exposure they generated online."

"But when it came to enjoying single and album sales, in terms of hard cash, they needed the record company."

Cee-lo, lead singer of Gnarls Barkley
Gnarls Barkley reached number one based on download sales
Tony Byrne, who runs music promoters Single Minded, agrees that, for most unsigned bands, the internet's main function is to generate buzz.

"When I first started in this business in the 1980s, the only route to a record label was to knock on the doors of the record company," he said.

"These days record labels are using the internet as a device to find new artists."

But with so many acts vying for attention online, he says, only bands who are inventive will break through to the mainstream.

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