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Unsigned music for the masses

Radio giant Clear Channel launches an online service to give new and promising artists a place to showcase their music.

Radio giant Clear Channel launched an online service to give new and promising artists a place to showcase their music.

The Web site, called the New Music Network, will allow unsigned artists to post samples of their music for free. The company plans to promote the service on its radio stations and other entertainment properties.

"The New Music Network will give even more artists the exposure they desire and will provide consumers with all kinds of new musical choices," Gerry Cagle, president of the New Music Network, said in a statement.

The increased popularity of file-sharing, along with disputes over Webcasting rates, is altering the traditional relationship between artists and distributors and has many companies like Clear Channel reassessing their business models. Garageband Records launched a similar service three years ago but later pulled the plug because of lack of funding. The company recently has revived its venture.

The record industry has been furiously battling for music royalties from online radio companies, threatening to shut down small Webcasters that can't afford the fees. Clear Channel's support of new artists puts it on cozier terms with the labels, without raising copyright concerns.

Clear Channel's Web streams were temporarily silenced last year in a tussle over online rights with the Recording Industry Association of America.

The company said the New Music Network service could eventually include an online radio channel.