Bowie's always been an innovator--aside from his music, he was the first artist to issue bonds backed by the royalties of his catalog, in 1997. So it didn't come as a shock when he announced the launch of BowieNet, an Internet Service Provider focused on him, in 1998. He was also the first major artist to post a free downloadable track, "Telling Lies." His goofy ISP isn't around anymore, but he does have a site called BowieArt, a platform for selling his and others' original prints and photos.

Byrne, former front man of the Talking Heads, and Eno, essentially the father of ambient music and the producer of landmark records from the likes of U2 and Coldplay, have collaborated on a range of projects. On the 25th anniversary of their 1981 album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, they released tracks that could be remixed by fans and posted in an online contest. They also released an online-only album this year. Byrne meanwhile has an avid following for his monthly online radio show. And Eno created his own iPhone app, called Bloom, which turns the phone into a combination musical instrument/art piece.

Back in our May 2008 issue, we raved about Ning's ability to let users create their own focused social networks. 50 Cent apparently wanted a piece of that action and created ThisIs50.com, a MySpace-like platform for users to find other people who love everything 50.

Former rock star Peter Gabriel has a thing for the Internet. In addition to his YouTube-like video platform dedicated to human rights activism, called the Hub, he's invested in two music-related ventures: We7, a site that promotes free and legal music downloads that have advertising attached; and TheFilter.com, which acts sort of like Pandora for music, movies and videos.

Johnson is known in circles as music's green freak. But he took his earth-loving obsession a step further by creating an advocacy social network called All At Once, which is aimed at helping non-profits secure more funding to tackle issues such as climate change, water quality, community gardens, land preservation, and environmental education.

Ludacris' rap label, Disturbing tha Peace, and MegaMobile TV launched WeMix.com, an online-only user-generated record label, in April. The home page features top songs picked by users and hot tracks picked by Luda himself (or more likely, some Web administrator acting in his name). The site also hooks up rappers who don't have beats and beat-makers who can't rap over their own rhythms.

For his entire career, Prince has challenged what musicians could do with the Web in terms of selling music and connecting with fans. His biggest achievement was being the first major artist to exclusively release a full album--1997's Crystal Ball--online. That's four years before Apple released iTunes. No wonder he won a Webby Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Last year, Radiohead released its seventh studio album, In Rainbows, on a newly launched Web site, inrainbows.com, and allowed fans to pay whatever they wanted for a download of the album (including nothing). Since the band never said how many downloads they sold, we won't know just how successful it was in financial terms. But it certainly generated a lot of attention, and changed the conversation about online music sales forever.

Reznor, who records as Nine Inch Nails, released the mostly instrumental album Ghosts I-IV online for $5 and shortly after gave away another, titled The Slip, as an entirely free download. In so doing, he's testing a new business model that focuses less on selling music per se and more on selling limited-edition CDs, merchandise and concert tickets.

Soulja might be best known for his chart-topping (and annoying) hit "Crank That (Soulja Boy)," but he should also be recognized as one of the first artists to fully exploit Web 2.0 possibilities. In 2005, he earned positive reviews for "Crank That" on SoundClick. Then he created YouTube and MySpace pages to push the song further. He then released a low-budget YouTube video of people doing the "Soulja Boy" dance, which went viral. Shortly after that, Interscope gave him a record deal.

10 Musicians Who Rock the Web

By now, we've all gotten used to the idea of the Web as the primary distribution channel for music. But some recording artists have clearly been ahead of the curve when it comes to creative uses for the Web. Here are 10 artists who have used the Internet in innovative ways.

Bowie's always been an innovator--aside from his music, he was the first artist to issue bonds backed by the royalties of his catalog, in 1997. So it didn't come as a shock when he announced the launch of BowieNet, an Internet Service Provider focused on him, in 1998. He was also the first major artist to post a free downloadable track, "Telling Lies." His goofy ISP isn't around anymore, but he does have a site called BowieArt, a platform for selling his and others' original prints and photos.

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