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Introduction

The music biz: You knew what you were in for when you strapped on that guitar . . . or did you? In case you’ve been out of the loop — or just fell off the hay cart — here’s the news: As of ’01, the starmaking machine has been radically retooled, and the old routes to pop heaven in all likelihood won’t get you there anymore. Big changes are under way from the bottom up, a transformation that signifies both enormous challenges and exciting opportunities. Two looming recent developments are the swelling corporatization of the music business to the point that a small handful of multinational companies virtually controls not only what gets heard but what doesn’t get heard; and the digital audio revolution that is providing new, better and less expensive ways of recording and distributing music, thus presenting a stage for artistry-driven musicians who’d never stand a chance with the largely profit-oriented major labels. Many of these independent musicians (did they jump or were they pushed?) now face the intriguing prospect of even making a small chunk of change for their efforts. The stories within this special edition are presented in order to provide musicians and music lovers with detailed information on how the music business — mega-corporate to grassroots indie — works or doesn’t work at present, and to serve as a tip sheet on how to survive and succeed in that business: tricks of the trade and cautionary tales from artists navigating the often treacherous waters of the major-label system; profiles of artists plying their wares via their own record labels, or on the Internet; the digital tools they use to record and produce their music; the roots of the do-it-yourself movement, and how it can be effective today; and, lest we forget, a few words on the vital importance of encouraging musicians to make music because they believe in it, not just because they’ll get rich and famous playing it. Here’s to a new dawn.

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