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Peter Gabriel a fan of Radiohead-esque Internet efforts

Part musician, part technology investor, Peter Gabriel applauded efforts by NIN and Radiohead to use the Internet to distribute music.

Peter Gabriel Martin Klimek

Peter Gabriel, the Grammy award-winning performer, this week applauded attempts by some artists to experiment with new ways to sell music.

Since October, the bands Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have generated plenty of notoriety after distributing their own albums--without the backing of any music label--through heavy use of the Internet.

"I think it's fantastic that these new models are appearing," said Gabriel, one of the founders of the band Genesis, told me on Monday. "You don't need very many people to make a project economically viable if you're distributing yourself."

When it comes to musicians knitting together musical and technological interests, Gabriel was one of the pioneers. In 1999, he cofounded one of the first music download stores in Europe, On Demand Distribution, which was later sold to Loudeye.

On Tuesday, The Filter, a company that Gabriel has invested in, went into beta and is due to open to the public next month. The Filter is a recommendation engine designed to help improve people's chances of finding digital music, video, film and literature they like on the Web.

Gabriel says he's working on a couple of new tech projects. "They could be quite interesting if we get them right," he said. "One has something to do with a visual is fun as long as it doesn't bankrupt me in the meantime."

As for the changes in the music industry, Gabriel also was intrigued about Live Nation, the concert-promotion company that is agreeing to pay huge upfront money to sign marquee artists, such as Jay-Z and Madonna. In exchange, Live Nation shares in the profits from sales of records, concerts, downloads, and merchandise.

"I'm not someone who really is out to destroy the record business," Gabriel said. "But I think it has to reinvent itself as a service industry and be competitive with other entities...what I don't like is the old model where (the labels) own you and can ignore you and you're just put up on a shelf. That model is gone or should be...unless you get that big Live Nation-type deal where they are paying you so much that it's a very comfortable prison that you're in."