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Music site brings bands out of the garage launches a Web site built and run by musicians to help bring performers and their fans together.

A Web site built and run by musicians to help bring performers and their fans together launched today at

The idea behind Garageband is to identify, cultivate, and sign up-and-coming bands, especially those that too often fall beneath the radar screen of big-name labels because they are in towns and cities that are not major media centers, the company said.

Top bands also will have the chance to get recording contracts and will be matched with proven producers and other music industry professionals.

Garageband's three founders are Jerry Harrison, record producer and former member of the rock band Talking Heads; Tom Zito, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur; and Amanda Lathroum Welsh, former head of research for Netcenter, a division of Netscape Communications.

Starting in November, and on a monthly basis beginning next year, top-rated bands will be awarded $250,000 recording contracts and paired with top-tier record producers and other respected music industry professionals who have agreed to join Garageband's advisory board, the company said.

Unlike other music Web sites that concentrate on distribution and delivery, Garageband will focus on the content side by identifying the best of the emerging musical talent, based on the ratings and reviews of other musicians and avid music listeners, the company said.

Garageband invites aspiring musicians in rock and pop, alternative, urban and hip-hop, electronica and dance, R&B, and other genres to upload their music onto the Garageband site, where it will be reviewed and rated by their music peers using Garageband's proprietary ratings engine, called the Lathroum Comparator Engine.

Bands can upload as many songs as they wish at no charge, but they must first review and rate at least two randomly selected and anonymously assigned tracks that have been submitted by other bands.