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The Most Innovative Companies in Music

  1. Apple: The traditional labels — and everyone else — keep trying, but no one has dented iTunes' supremacy. In 2008, Apple surpassed Wal-Mart as the world's largest music retailer.
  2. Warner Music Group: Digital sales were up 39%, thanks in part to a ramped-up MP3 effort in 2008. WMG also partnered with Nokia on an all-access music channel that lives on your phone.
  3. Imeem: After buying up Anywhere.fm and Snocap, Imeem found itself one of the top social networks of 2008, according to Nielsen.
  4. Pandora: The music-discovery machine of the 21st century has taken the serendipity out of finding new music that fits your tastes. Just one step ahead of competitor Last.fm.
  5. Last.fm: Later to the party than Pandora, but a growing force that includes info on concerts and artists, plus video.
  6. South by Southwest: The Austin-based music-and-media festival attracts more than 1,800 acts and 150,000 attendees. Despite a grassroots approach, a standout showing can make an artist.
  7. MTV Music Group: A slew of new digital initiatives are one part of president Van Toffler's remaking. Another: the $175 million purchase of Rock Band game maker Harmonix.
  8. Radiohead: The band that spawned direct-to-fans releases made two songs available for remix — and let users vote for the winner on its site. Amateurs and professionals alike joined in.
  9. Live Nation: The concert promoter continued to sign A-list artists to distribution deals and further increased its live-events footprint.
  10. Pitchfork Media: The popular and wildly influential music blog recently added video and inked a deal with Fader Media for integrated advertising and sponsorship across all platforms.