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The fall of mp3.com takes local artists with it.

Tiger Army bassist Rob Peltier, doing his thing at the - Agora on November 22. - WALTER  NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • Tiger Army bassist Rob Peltier, doing his thing at the Agora on November 22.
When mp3.com debuted in 1997, the online music source promised to revolutionize the way people consume music. Six years later, its revolution is over. While competition heats up among new music-downloading sites, mp3.com has been bought by download giant Cnet.com. By December 2, all music posted on the site -- including the songs of 34 Cleveland-area artists -- will disappear in a puff of virtual smoke.

"It gave me exposure to other people I never would have heard of," says John Dwiers, aka Go Soshi!, a Cleveland electronica artist who had 30 songs posted on the site -- including 7 of the area's 10 most downloaded songs. In the last year, his one-man neo-jungle band clocked nearly 5,000 listens; his first fan e-mail came from the Netherlands.

Instrumental guitarist Neil Zaza, who has scored nearly 200,000 listens on mp3.com since 1999, credits the site with helping him develop an international following that has led to gigs in Korea, China, and Taiwan. "It did expose me to some niches I wouldn't have had exposure to," says Zaza. "Financially and publicity-wise, it was very rewarding."

In 1999, mp3.com introduced a service called Payola, in which the then-cash-rich company used portions of $100 million in corporate venture capital to pay artists who drew the most downloads. Zaza says he made as much as $1,000 in a week, and $150 weekly payoffs were not uncommon. By 2001, mp3.com stopped paying artists and started charging for premium services.

· Brusque Cleveland metal combo N-Factor has canned singer Neil Bonness. Jim Drummond replaces the growler, who had been characterized by the band as "much hated." N-Factor plans to post new demos online in mid-December at www.nfactorrocks.com.

· The new regional compilation Place Arm Here for Amputation features 53 bands from the Midwest, half of them from the Cleveland-Akron area. C-town promoter Steve Barrett executive-produced the project, soliciting tracks from metallers Kill Franklin, punkers Jacknife Powerbombs, rockabilly trio Lords of the Highway, and re-formed epic-indie-rockers HiLo. Barrett will debut the record at six CD-release parties, set for December 4 at the Beachland, December 5 at Akron's Lime Spider, December 7 at Pat's in the Flats, December 12 at Pirate's Cove, December 13 at Rockwood Subs, and December 14 at the Grog Shop. Cover charges will include a copy of the comp. The two-disc set will also be available at Chris' Warped Records (13383 Madison Avenue) and My Mind's Eye (13727 Madison Avenue), both in Lakewood.

· Call riff-rockers Abdullah textbook metal: The band landed a listing in Daniel Bukszpan's The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal. Featuring a foreword by metal giant Ronnie James Dio, the 304-page oversized book features full-color pages, with entries on artists from Slipknot to Black Sabbath. Abdullah graces the same page as Accept and AC/DC.

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