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Record labels exist to discover and develop artists for the purpose of producing, distributing, and promoting their music. That function hasn't changed, but company practices have in this new age of digital music, self-publishing, home recording, and MySpace. What are companies doing to change with the times and connect artists with listeners?

There is a curious statement on the back cover of the Sevenglory CD Over the Rooftops, down in the fine print where the usual copyright and legal disclaimers live: "PERMISSION GRANTED: feel free to burn a copy of tracks 1 and 2 for as many friends as you like." Not the sort of thing you would expect in an age where the recording industry has had a quarrelsome relationship with listeners who ignore stringent copyright warnings.

Just when you thought you had those big, money-hungry record labels figured out, one comes along and invites you to copy their music. Such is 7Spin Music, a label that was born in the tumultuous days of illegal downloads that changed the industry and its business model forever. Founded in 2004 by Peter Khosla, 7Spin is an unconventional label in an unusual setting, located in the small town of Valparaiso, Indiana. But it may well be drawing the roadmap for the future of the music industry.

To say that record labels are in a state of flux is an understatement. Shrinking CD sales have caused labels to rethink and reevaluate almost everything they do. It would then seem a gamble to enter that fray with a brand new record label. The music business as a whole was and is challenging, but if ever there was a time to rewrite the book, we're living in it. The name "7Spin Music" is an indication that the book-rewriting process has gone through a few rough drafts.

 "The dot ...

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April 2008

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