Tech company Immediatek -- home to copyright-protection software NetBurn and live-concert CD company DiscLive -- is in the midst of launching a virtual record label.

Tech company Immediatek -- home to copyright-protection software NetBurn and live-concert CD company DiscLive -- is in the midst of launching a virtual record label. Because NetBurn allows consumers to download music that is copy-protected, several artists are opting to record studio albums and release them on the Internet via NetBurn. Immediatek chairman and CEO Zach Bair says he's already done a deal with Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens to release a new solo project and possibly a new Smithereens record. Drummer Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz), bassist Foley (Miles Davis, Prince) and singer-songwriter Shelley Laine have done similar deals.

"It's a virtual label, but it's different in the respect that the artists maintain control over almost everything," Bair says. "We're not doing anything other than helping provide the tools that they need to get their work out. Then we just do a revenue share on the backend once it hits our NetBurn portal system distribution model."

Bair, a guitarist-singer who is working with Foley on a single and has a Dallas-based band called No Control, says this type of model is "empowerment" for artists.

Immediatek has deals with a few recording studios, including Dallas studio Maximedia, where NetBurn artists can get free studio time in return for a revenue share on the final product.

Bair says he's also looking into working with unknown and emerging artists and offering them the same opportunity.

The virtual label seems a natural extension for Bair given the success of DiscLive, which Immediatek acquired in April. Live-concert CD releases immediately after shows are becoming hotter to fans than buying T-shirts and posters.

During a recent three-week warm-up tour by the Pixies, every one of the 16,000 on-site CDs offered by DiscLive was purchased.

The DiscLive and NetBurn technologies are working in tandem. All DiscLive CDs sold at concerts are NetBurn copy-proof. The company also has successfully experimented with releasing live concerts for download via the NetBurn Web site.

"DiscLive is a natural extension of revenue streams that we can offer to artists," Bair says. "It's a unique opportunity for no investment on the part of the artist. There is literally no risk involved. We think the DiscLive type of product -- the collectible after-concert CD -- is going to become as popular as ball caps or T-shirts over the next year or so."

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