The Internet Underground Music Archive was better known by the acronym IUMA. The IUMA was started in 1993 by three students at the University of California at Santa Cruz: Jeff Patterson, Jon Luini and Rob Lord. The three men worked together to create an online music archive that would help musicians and bands who weren't signed by a major label. The site allowed these unsigned artists to upload files and send them to fans. The site also enabled the artists the opportunity to talk with their fans. The IUMA was first part of the Usenet newsgroups.
In 1998, Emusic bought the Internet Underground Music Archive and changed the look and feel. Unsigned artists would sign up with the service and receive a website and URL devoted to their name. Emusic also allowed artists to use three different services to upload their music. They could use Internet radio, a live streaming feed, or a download option where fans could download the songs directly to their computer. Many of the early files were WAV and AIFF files, but they later added the option of MP2 tracks and MP3 files. The website included a special section where the artists could see the number of visitors and downloads they had received and some top visited artists received royalty checks from the company.
In the early 2000s the company held a 'Battle of the Bands' event known as Music-o-mania, which went into the record books as the biggest online contest of its kind in history. They also helped bands gain exposure by working with talk show host, Jenny Jones, who have these unsigned artists on her show.
The company was known for unusual publicity stunts. They held a contest in 2000 for expectant parents. Couples who legally named their child Iuma were entitled to receive a check for $5,000. Travis Thornhill and his wife were one of the first families to take the company up on its offer, by naming their child Iuma Dylan Lucas. Thornhill was in a band that used IUMA for business purposes and the couple thought it would make a good story. The company paid out the same amount to a number of other families, too.
In 2001 Emusic decided to reduce costs and laid off a number of employees working exclusively on IUMA. Some of those workers stayed on because they believed the website would return and be better than ever. However, in 2006, Emusic shut down the IUMA site and those workers all left. Vitaminic bought the IUMA format that same year, but the site never returned.
Find out more information on the Internet Underground Music Archive at:
IUMA Ceases Operations
BBC News on Iuma Baby
Internet Underground Music Archive at Wikipedia
The Dynamics of Music Distribution
It's All Geek to Them
Vitaminic Buys IUMA to Expand US Presence
Emusic Stops IUMA Support
Sell Your Music Online
Digital Music Provider Buys IUMA
A few sites have tried to take over for IUMA such as:
CD Baby - has digital distribution for bands. The company also took over the remaining CDs the company once owned when they shut down.
Unsigned - allows artists to setup their own profiles and list pictures, music clips, and other types of information.
Myspace Music - free service for bands both signed and unsigned to list updates and songs on their page.
Independent Music Directory - lists links to unsigned bands and their websites, along with information on the band or artist.