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Internet's Music Revolution

Michael Robertson is 31 years old and probably on his way to making a fortune.

He sells music, much of which you haven't heard of, in a way many people consider unheard of, CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports.

"What we are is just four guys in San Diego, computer guys who are giving a shot at the music business," Robertson said.

Robertson runs a Web site called MP3.com, named for a technology that makes it possible to record and distribute music with the click of a mouse. His idea was an instant hit.

"The first day we turned on the web site, MP3.com, we had 10,000 visitors," Robertson said. "The first day."

MP3.com allows customers to listen to 15,000 selections. They can buy what they like. Each CD is made to order in the back room. It's quick and easy and independent of the big record companies.

"The threat as far as I think the record industry is concerned is that their lock on the distribution chain is starting to slip. Their grip is starting to slip," technology analyst Mark Hardie said.

Unlike a regular record company, MP3.com gives the artists a higher percentage of the profits and total control over their music.

Robertson has been in business for just 14 months but he's already attracted an enormous amount of attention and an enormous amount of money.

One investment firm known for its deep pockets called and said "How much do you want?"

"Ten million," Robertson responded. "And they said, ahhh, okay, we'll give you $10 million."

Robertson is suddenly attracting recognized talent, like punk rocker Billy Idol, who did a few songs for MP3.com to test the waters.

"I could get to my fans immediately and it was fun and exciting and I think a lot of that has been taken out of rock and roll," Idol said.

Idol likes the idea of distributing his own music, independent of the record company's control.

When asked what his message to the record companies was, Idol responded: "Kiss my ---."

Idol is talking about a $38 billion industry dominated by a handful of companies, all of which are keeping a close eye on MP3.com.

"The major record companies are not gonna hand the Internet over to the entrepreneurs and say when it comes to the Internet, you guys do it," said Hilary Rosen of the Recording Industry Association.

Right now with bands like Cobain Morrison, MP3.com isn't costing the music industry much. But remember, Robertson has millions of dollars betting that it will.

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