'Alien' Jim Copyrighted image Credit: Production team

In the past the only way to do this was to have released and distributed a record. As this can be a long and complicated process, he decided to turn to the Internet and distribute his music on one of the many music community sites that have sprung up over the past few years.

'It's so simple, you write and record your music before converting it to the popular MP3 format. Tools to do all this are available as software demos or shareware on the net for free, and you can do it on most home PCs. We then registered with the music site and uploaded our tunes with a short biog and picture. It was all done in about ten minutes.'

Once you have uploaded your music, other visitors to the site can download the music and can click on a voting form to rate the track.

The more people who download the tune, the higher in the charts it goes. The surprise came when within 24 hours their tune was at the top of the charts. Jim was delighted: 'When we checked back to see how we were doing we were rather surprised to see that we had reached number one. The great thing is that we can read comments from people who have listened to our music and even make changes. Many of the people who vote and leave comments are musicians as well so you get some great advice and feedback as well as feeling part of a community.'

These kind of sites are changing the way music is discovered with several successful chart acts of the past couple of years being discovered on these kind of web sites. Many record companies keep a close eye on the top ranking artists as it's much easier than mailing out demos and chasing new bands around the pub and club gigs scene.