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Saving continues to scale back operations and trim away at its staff. Its days as the Grand Central Station for unsigned artists may be nearing an end. If it's not too late, Rick Munarriz has some ideas for getting Vivendi's site back from the brink.

By Rick Aristotle Munarriz (TMF Edible)
August 15, 2003
Online music isn't dead. It just smells bad.

At least that's what I keep telling myself. Yet, the world's most prominent site for music by unsigned artists stumbles on toward its dot-com coda. Last week, Vivendi (NYSE: V) shuttered its Europe operations and suspended new registrations for its free artist services.

One of the more jagged pieces in the entertainment puzzle Vivendi is looking to unload, had the misfortune of growing up under the care of disinterested foster parents. First the site's original owners cashed out to spare the company the legal fisticuffs over its copyright-slapping music locker technology, then things got worse under Vivendi.

Owner of Universal Music Group, Vivendi presumably had very good reason to keep the site's potential untapped. Universal represents the old guard, under which only artists signed to restrictive long-term recording contracts matter. It would have been counterproductive to showcase the unwashed, unsigned, and unshackled. What message would that send to its signed roster of artists?

The great unsigned
Yet managed to grow under the carpet's shade. Sometimes that redheaded stepchild in the closet is a hydra -- 250,000 artists and a library of 750,000 songs are streamed or downloaded by registered users now counting in the tens of millions...
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