Mar 312004
Authors: Chris Hess

In case one hasn’t noticed, the golden age of the music industry

is long gone.

The days of camping out for concert tickets and of artists

harboring dreams of working hard to become successful have faded

into the reality of giant corporations and the illusion of

“American Idol.”

The record industry can no longer afford to sign any bands it

wants. The financial strains of trying to keep up with the digital

music revolution have led to cutbacks including decreases in the

number of artists on a label’s roster. Thus, unless someone in the

industry likes a band enough to fire someone else, they are going

to have a hard time going anywhere.

Fortunately, a saving grace for the struggling musician has

emerged from the muck of the recording industry: the Unsigned Music


“The industry has bisected into the have-have-haves and the

not-not-nots,” said the company’s founder and president Steve

Sheiner. “We’re here to help the nots so they can live and play

their music.”

Sheiner started UMN back in 2001 after the other company he

helped found, the now infamous, was sold to the French

media behemoth Vivendi Universal for somewhere in the ballpark of

$372 million. provided a place for artists to post MP3s of their songs

for free download. Vivendi, which owns Universal Music Group, hoped

to use the site as a springboard for it’s own Internet music

distribution service, but has effectively shut the site down.

After leaving, Sheiner started UMN as an internet radio

service to help expose unsigned artists to a culture hungry for

music it doesn’t have to pay to hear. Since then, the company has

expanded to offer numerous services.

“It’s like on steroids,” Sheiner said. “We provide tools

and resources and align the artists with what they need to be


These tools, which are available to the artists through a

subscription service to the network, are a musician’s dream. They

include everything from MP3 downloads, to song licensing, to music

publishing, to slots at UMN concerts.

The original Internet rock radio show is still going, with a

hip-hop show ready to launch soon, Sheiner said.

While the necessity of paying a fee may turn off some bands,

many have signed up for UMN’s services in every genre of music.

Well-known acts such as Canibus and Public Enemy have even hopped

on board with the company’s services.

In a world where the recording industry’s distribution system

isn’t up to par, Sheiner and the folks over at UMN are here to help

the musician out.

“We want to create opportunities for musicians to play,” Sheiner

said. “The bands just have to make a little investment, and in

return, we’re gonna provide the services and provide the resources

without owning you.”

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.