The Web's Most Intriguing Music-Related Issues & Destinations. This Week: The Strokes, Nickelback and Mike Watt

STROKING THE 'SOUND: The Strokes' much-hyped sophomore album "Room on Fire" made a huge push on Billboard's Top Internet Album Sales chart last week, zooming up to No. 2 in its first full week of availability (pre-sales had led the disc to debut at No. 16 on the chart two weeks ago). Online music retailer Insound says a promotion on its site helped fuel more than half of those Web sales.

StrokesThe site, which positions itself as one of the premiere indie-rock communities and CD stores on the Web, had set up a promotion in which customers buying the Strokes album also received a free copy of a 7" vinyl single of lead track "12:51." The site and the Strokes' label, RCA, vigorously touted the promotion via the Web and the site ended up selling nearly 2,300 copies of the album in its first week, about 58% of its total Internet sales for the week (4,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan).

Insound president Matt Wishnow credits the success to the Strokes' appeal in the indie community that frequents the site, as well as their customers' preference for vinyl. "Our customers are buying more records this year than last year. In fact, they're buying more vinyl than ever," he says. "And while we believe that digital distribution is a very exciting part of our future as a retailer and as music fans, we also believe that there are millions of fans who are still interested in albums and in artists' careers."

NickelDO I HEAR A NICKEL?: Canadian rock act Nickelback is one of the first featured artists on eBay's new Universal Music Store, which as previously reported, is a joint venture between the online auctioneer and Universal Music Group. No less than 10 Nickelback-related special lots are currently up for bidding at the Store, ranging from an autographed guitar and rare records to ticket packages including airfare to see the band in Europe and a chance to hang out on the set of Nickelback's next video shoot.

MikeFREE WATTAGE: is a simple little multimedia site dedicated to one of the most influential underground rock musicians of the modern era, Mike Watt. The site is endorsed by the former Minutemen and fIREHOSE bassist, who has contributed by uploading MP3s and videos of past solo and band performances, as well as studio rarities.

The fan-driven site works well as a complement to Watt's idiosyncratic home page, the Mike Watt Hoot Page. Besides the usual live concerts and B-side material, Corndogs actually includes items one would presume is not available elsewhere, such as Watt's own MP3 contributions "Baptism Bass Bit" and "Bass Bit for Bryce," which he describes as just himself on his "thump staff," recording at home for fun.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard