By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
AS THIS ARTICLE GOES TO PRESS, JIGA + JINNO are in the studio, "writing the darkest, most depressing music you can think of." They decided to go on the record with their story, and remain in contact with other artists who were inexplicably suspended in May. So far, only one has come forward: "Angry Genius Boy," a political spoken-word artist who posts a similar story on his MP3.com site. AGB assumed he'd been singled out for his irreverence; he claims MP3.com had gone after him in the past for using a picture of John Ashcroft in vain. "But I think now they picked on the ones who had no recourse," he says. Jiga has not given up trying to prove to MP3.com that Analog Pussy's popularity is real, and to find out why MP3.com doubts that it is.
"Say that I havedone something wrong, like I sent a bomb to their headquarters and wrote my name on it. Before they take my hard-earned money, shouldn't they tell me what I'm being accused of?" MP3.com's director of publicity, Greg Wilfahrt, refused to comment directly on Analog Pussy's plight -- "communication with the artist is confidential," he claimed -- but said that MP3.com might keep its reasons for suspension a secret so as not to give other artists any ideas.
"Let me word this carefully here," he said over the phone from San Diego. "In the communication that takes place between the artist and the company about irregularities, those irregularities are addressed with the band. The reason they wouldn't be able to discuss the issues of irregularities with the artist is that people could then figure out how to 'gain' the system."
"I understand," says Jiga, "that they are a company with certain financial needs that come before human relations. But if you have to be like that, don't promote yourself as a place for independent artists."
Sites that offer services similar to MP3.com, such as Ampcast.com, are still waiting to be exploited, and Jeff Patterson, who has remained IUMA's director of technology through every acquisition, promises IUMA will keep a face on its correspondence, despite its new parent company Vitaminic's express desire to emulate a label: "There's a focus at Vitaminic on signed content," he admits, "but since there are no serious label affiliations, there's no conflict of interest."
As for Patterson the rock musician, he's still waiting for the Ugly Mugs to break: If you include the years its members have taken off to finish school or launch new businesses, the band has been together for 13 years. Last month, it was the best unsigned band on RollingStone.com -- "for 24 hours," says Patterson. And one day, perhaps, an Ugly Mugs single will chart -- if only on the Internet.
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