The Internet's been the capital-lettered bogeyman of the music industry for years now — the fall guy record execs blame for plummeting sales of overpriced CDs and the impossible hurdle new musicians must clear if they hope to gain the attention of easily distracted fans in an oversaturated market. The rules of the game have changed, and while some of us are left to debate whether the so-called Radiohead model only works for bands of Radiohead's stature, local hip-hop producer Andrew Jernigan, a.k.a. Phaseone, has found a way to make the Internet work for him. Rather than hold out hope for an old-fashioned record deal, this past year he has released two albums of stunning intergenre instrumentals — seamlessly melding electro-crunk and neo-soul — as free downloads. (The second, Thanks But No Thanks, was released via his Twitter feed.) He has parlayed unofficial remixes of blog favorites such as Animal Collective and Burial into paying gigs for major-label artists such as Bloc Party. All this free work may not earn him short-term bank, but he's creating a successful brand — and on the Internet, that's the first step toward longevity.
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