Reaches 500,000 songs 
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Written by Bryan Dailey   
Monday, 17 July 2000

San Diego’s MP3.COM recently announced that there are now over 500,000 songs and audio files available for users to download. The song "Self-Respect" by the artist Buckley V. Valeo was the 500,000th track added to the site and can be accessed at

With so many artists posting their music on websites such as MP3, this begs the question: what chance is there of an artist being successful without the support of a major or indie record company? MP3.COM’s current Top Five list of downloads includes:

1. "Mahadeva" by Astral Projection
2. "Ave Maria" by Liona Boyd
3. "Celtic Stream" by Transoceanic
4. "Music for the Child Inside" by Transoceanic
5. "Mountain Song" by Chris Mason-Battley Group

Haven’t heard of these artists? Me neither. Not exactly Britney Spears or Eminem, are they? Will these artists one day share a place next to the superstars of today? MP3 has a program called "Payback for Playback" that pays artists a certain amount of money based on the number of times their tracks are downloaded. MP3 says that this total amount of money can be up to $1,000,000 per month, but Astral Projection, for example, has only received $3,371.43 so far in revenue for their #1 song "Mahadeva".

Artists can sell their own CDs and merchandise to generate revenue and do not have to go into huge debt from advances given by a record company. Of course, it can be expensive for an artist to record his or her own music, press CDs and create t-shirts, but the upside to this business model is that the artist does not have to repay an advance from the record company. An advance is a loan that a record company gives to an artist to create an album. Only after all of the money from this loan is paid back can the artist actually start making money. What complicates things further for artists is the fact that the record company keeps money for things such as promotional CDs, broken packaging, royalties for A&R reps, etc. Other issues such as managers and lawyers fees are additional costs that make the music biz potentially unprofitable for artists. A band with five members could go gold selling 500,000 copies of a record and not come close to breaking even. With all of the horror stories one hears when watching "VH1: Behind the Music," maybe MP3 is a safe way for artists to make some spare money with their music as long as they don’t quit their day jobs. But if world domination and trashing hotel rooms at the Chateau Marmont is your idea of being a rock star, then you will still need a big label to foot the bill. Even with all of today’s technology, it remains necessary to either make major label records on a tight budget with a small advance, or sell upwards of 1,000,000 units before you start making profits.

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