Unsigned acts can post samples of their work to DreamWorks Digital A&R. The site, which is associated with DreamWorks Records, limits bands to one submission every three months and requires musicians to give DreamWorks permanent, nonexclusive distribution rights for all submissions.
Partnering with DreamWorks are Launch.com and HarmonyCentral.com, which will build co-branded sites offering the same service.
Today's announcement is the latest sign that the MP3 revolution will not overthrow the music establishment, but rather will be absorbed by it.
Pioneering companies such as MP3.com have created platforms for unsigned acts to sell and promote music without turning to record labels, which typically front the high marketing costs associated with creating hit albums. But few unsigned artists have risen above the crowd to win a mass following, suggesting that the role of labels as key middlemen between artists and their fans will not be supplanted anytime soon.
"Advancements in connectivity, compression and bandwidth are streamlining record company practices across the board. (Searching for talent) is no different," Jed Simon, who oversees new media at DreamWorks, said in a statement. "For us, accepting digital submissions is the logical next step in exploiting the technology.''
DreamWorks is following major labels in tapping the Web for talent. Seagram's Universal Music Group last year launched FarmClub.com, an online record label founded by Doug Morris, Universal Music's chairman, and Jimmy Iovine, co-chairman of Universal's Interscope Geffen A&M banner.
FarmClub lets unsigned artists digitally submit recordings and compete for recording contracts. Universal Music markets and distributes selected FarmClub releases through partners such as America Online, USA Networks and MTV Networks.