Elisa Bray: Caught in the Net

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The Independent Culture

Is this how to create the ultimate party playlist? The social music site Last.fm, which led the (sadly unsuccessful) campaign to ward off the inevitable X Factor Christmas No 1, has launched a free online jukebox offering what it claims is the largest global free music service. It's struck deals with the major labels so Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI have added their catalogues to those of more than 150,000 independent labels and artists. Users can stream (rather than download) as much music as they like for free.

The snag is that you can stream each track for free three times, after which you will be directed to download sites iTunes, Amazon or 7 Digital to buy it. But the best bit is the deal for unsigned artists, to whom Last.fm promises it will pay royalties each time one of their uploaded tracks is played – a fee it says will be higher than the standard radio fee.

The advertising-funded music download site www.we7.com that Peter Gabriel (above) set up last year has reached its millionth download. Recognising that in the world of digital music people either buy or steal, the former Genesis front-man decided to offer a choice between downloading free tracks with a 10-second advert attached, or paying to download DRM-free MP3s. The 30 tracks available to download when it launched have since grown to 80,000.

The Liverpool band The Zutons, currently holed up in an LA studio recording their third album, are posting a blog and photos from the sessions at www.thezutons.com. The album is due for release in the spring.

Finally, as last Monday was "Blue Monday" – the gloomiest day of the year – here's some light relief I couldn't resist; an animated video from Rathergood.com to Elbow's brilliant cover of Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman", at http://www.rathergood.com/independent_woman/. The cover was first heard on Radio 1's Live Lounge. The deadpan vocals from Guy Garvey and the toy-like jazz instruments make this a gem.

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