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
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
Sheiner started UMN back in 2001 after the other company he
helped found, the now infamous MP3.com, was sold to the French
media behemoth Vivendi Universal for somewhere in the ballpark of
MP3.com 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 its own Internet music
distribution service, but has effectively shut the site down.
After leaving MP3.com, 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 MP3.com 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, according to Sheiner.
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.”