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It's Payback Time!, the ultra-successful Website that offers downloadable, near CD-quality music at the click of a mouse, is making dreams come true for a handful of unknowns.

The site has shelled out its first $200,000 paycheck to musicians who participated in Payback for Playback, a promotion that pays unsigned artists for their work.

The company earmarked the cash specifically for the contest and kept tabs on the number of times a band's tunes were downloaded throughout the month. After adding up the November totals, the company paid the musicians based on the results.

Alexander "DjC" Carlborg, a member of the top-scoring Swedish band Trance Control, has nothing but praise for the innovative promotion.

"It's the best thing that ever came from," he says. "Not just because we've gained a lot from it, but due to the fact that it encourages more artists to put their music on the Net and get a chance to get paid for their work. It all just kicks really hard."

The top-earning artists include:

  1. Trance Control (electronic), $4,556
  2. Ernesto Cortazar (easy listening), $3,693
  3. Killer Spam's Comedy Stuff (comedy), $2,709
  4. The Cynic Project (electronic), $1,770
  5. Ghost in the Machine (electronic), $1,760
  6. Charlie Sneller (easy listening), $1,630
  7. Kryptonic (electronic), $1,490
  8. Red Delicious (alternative), $1,417
  9. Bassic (electronic), $1,366
  10. Emily Richards (pop & rock), $1,357
Banking on the success of the promotion, plans to shell out another $200,000 in December.

Many music biz types feel that Internet distribution of digital tunes la is the future of the industry, but there are lingering fears songs will be copied and swapped without money going to the artists, fears might begin to be dispelling.

Says Kryptonic's Lawrence Jarquio, "For most musicians, like myself, just the idea that my music was being heard on by thousands of people a day and getting positive feedback through emails, links, downloads, etc. was enough for me. But getting paid for it? That's almost too good to be true."

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