There are few cultural artifacts more bereft than a major-label album that doesn't get a push. Indie albums are never quite as sad, partially because the common (though not universal) practice of splitting profits 50-50 with the label means acts usually don't sink into debt if they flop, but more centrally because the immediate transparency of the indie network means work of even marginal value gets exposure. Record stores (e.g., Aquarius Records) send out annotated new- arrival lists; blogs, listservs and alt weeklies like this one keep up the discourse; file sharing, Web radio and the self-sufficient network of small clubs can keep an indie act in the public consciousness if the act doesn't mind sleeping standing up. But if you're on a major label and MTV doesn't pick your needle out of the haystack and Clear Channel doesn't baptize you in Iraqi blood, the chances you'll do the numbers UniCorp wants are zero. If you're, say, 50 Cent, you could go direct to the street. But chances are extremely good that you are not 50 Cent. You're Tonéx, or Lathun, or Frou... More >>>