The Beatdown

After a six-year run, MP3.com is now eMPty3.com.

His efforts were not in vain. As a result of the buzz generated on MP3.com, A&R reps from several major labels, including the former CEO of A&M Records, Al Cafaro, contacted Accidental Superhero. Although no deal ensued, Cafaro offered some sage wisdom about the recording industry that Mulholland took to heart.

"He basically said that if you're marketing yourself to labels, get as much of an advance as you can, because it's quite possible that the A&R person that signs you may be fired at some point," Mulholland says. "Like, 'Nothing is for sure. Don't trust anybody as your best buddy, even if they say they love your music.'"

Fortunately, Accidental Superhero didn't put all of its trust in MP3.com, either. After the band had amassed 200,000 downloads in a time frame of three months in the summer of 2002, its members changed their strategy. While other acts continued to offer their material for free, Mulholland and company made their music work for them, by having their audio available on a streaming-only basis rather than as a free download. Users could still obtain three free digital tracks, but only if they joined Superhero's mailing list. As a result, the band now has the names and addresses of 10,000 people already interested in its music. So even though the band no longer has its MP3.com page, it has an invaluable asset ready for when the time comes to push its next release, slated for sometime next year.

In the meantime, Accidental Superhero has found a new vehicle to move its tunes, one that was somewhat unexpected. Last year, after the group finished third in the Coca-Cola New Music Awards, three of its songs were selected by Microsoft to appear on the just-released Project Gotham Racing 2 for Xbox, alongside those of major artists like American Hi-Fi, Sir Mix-A-Lot and Uncle Kracker. Although Mulholland hesitates to attribute this deal to the band's exposure on MP3.com, it's safe to say that talent alone is rarely enough: Someone has to hear the songs before the doors swing open.

Many more Colorado bands broadened their fan base with MP3.com, although few fared as well as Superhero. Fear Before the March of Flames held the top spot on the Top 200 listens for the Denver area with "The 20th Century Was Entirely Mine," from its debut Odd How People Shake. Before MP3.com was pulled, Fear had logged 91,000 listens, while Drug Underhad 31,000. In comparison, more lauded local artists Tinker's Punishment had 15,000; Dead Heaven Cowboys, Yo, Flaco! and Rexway all clocked in at around 6,000 each; Hemi Cuda and ION sat at around 4,000; and Love.45and Vox-Demonacame in at 500. The sleepers of the bunch: newcomer The Late Jack Redell at 14,000 and, shockingly, the long-defunct Angellic Rage at 26,000.

When VUNet announced the imminent end of MP3.com, a multitude of other sites sprang up, hoping to capitalize on the traffic. But local bands might want to wait before they hitch a ride, because a brand-new community is being created. Initially, CNET did not intend to build a replacement site, but now, in response to overwhelming demand from the independent-music community, it promises to unveil a new domain, www.music.download.com, sometime after the first of the year. The site, with a functionality similar to that of the old MP3.com, will most likely be featured on CNET's Download.com (which already gets "tens of millions of unique visitors," according to CNET) and will allow folks to upload and download songs for free.

CNET also plans to relaunch MP3.com, with a redirected focus as a centralized music-information resource. Maybe now that the music-industry weasels have been removed from the equation, the site might work better for everyone involved.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Upbeats and beatdowns:Members of DeVotchKa will fondle their instruments at the Ogden Theatre this Friday, December 12, as they provide aural stimulation for a titillating holiday event being billed as Burlesque XXXMas, featuring the, ahem, bodacious ta-talents of Manson's main squeeze, Dita Von Teese, as well as Catherine D'Lish, Kitten on the Keys and the local gals from Burlesque As It Was and Oracle Dance. There's nothing like being stripped of your inhibitions, even if it means being added to the jolly fat man's naughty list -- with three gigantic X's next to your name. Not to be outdone, and also on Friday night, Typecast, Ceverance, Forgotten Price and Assisted Suicide Assembly grind at the Bluebird. On the following night, Saturday, December 13, at Herman's Hideaway, Rhythm Vision swells with the release of its new CD, with Mercury Project and the Fong Jones Band joining in the celebration. Meanwhile, over on Colfax Avenue, Paul Geoffrey Fonfara will uncover his newest unit, Painted Saints, at the Lion's Lair, and Unee Q, Logic and Fresh City will hang a sign warning "Don't Disturb This Groove" on the door of the Bluebird. Then on Sunday, December 14, Caustic Soul, Autumns, Dark Orchid and Erotic will pleasure the masses at the Bluebird for Gestalt Records' one-year anniversary party. Finally, at the Blue Mule on Monday, December 15, the Fighting Cocks, Belfast Carbombs, Weather the Storm and Crimson Haybaler will get hard as the crowd sucks down those one-buck PBRs.

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