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Jazz composer wins after Web-only sales

Maria Schneider takes Grammy for 'Concert in the Garden'
/ Source: Reuters

Jazz composer Maria Schneider took home a Grammy Sunday for her album “Concert in the Garden,” without selling a single copy in a record store.

Schneider, 44, financed her Grammy-winning album through a Internet-based music delivery service called ArtistShare that opens the financing of production to dedicated fans.

Schneider said she believed she might be the first artist ever to win a Grammy for an album distributed solely on the Web. But she said that other musicians had already approached her about trying similar experiments of their own.

“It’s been very gratifying for me. It’s a new way for fans to be closer to artists and artists to be closer to fans,” Schneider told reporters after receiving her award.

“They (fans) came into the project long before I completed my CD,” she said.

Schneider, who was ArtistShare’s first participating artist, said she had funded the cost of her original budget before she started recording, an anomaly in recording, particularly with jazz albums.

The “Concert in the Garden” CD was limited to 10,000 copies, with 9,000 available for pre-order to participants and 1,000 held in reserve for later auction, through ArtistShare.

“This record cost $87,000 to make. I already made my money back,” she said. “I’m not splitting the profits with the distributor, the record store and the record company. It’s working so well for me,”

To be sure, big record labels were also humming at the 47th annual Grammys on Sunday about the fast-growing digital music market.

Sales of digital downloads, while still a small piece of the overall music business, rose to more than 143 million tracks in 2004 from 19.2 million in 2003.

In 2004, sales of digital music players like Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod exploded, and recording artists are also relying increasingly on revenue from other non-traditional sources like films, videogames and cellphone ring tones.