Peter Gabriel: An Old Rocker Gets Digital

The New York Times writes about how Peter Gabriel is embracing the Internet rather than cowering in fear of it.

While major record companies have spent heavily on the Internet with relatively little to show, Mr. Gabriel and his partners started OD2 on a tight budget, built it into a digital delivery platform that retailers like Virgin used on their Web sites, and sold it in 2004 for $40.5 million.

“When most labels were banging their heads, he got it and saw the liberating value of Internet distribution to artists, and that’s what excited him,” says Mr. Grimsdale, a partner at Eden Ventures, of Mr. Gabriel. “He has a very good sense technologically of what’s going to work.”

OD2’s success also catapulted Mr. Gabriel, after decades as a top-selling artist, into a second career as a powerful player in the emerging online music industry, a move that once seemed more outlandish than the costumes he wore in the early 1970s as a singer for the rock group Genesis.

But Mr. Gabriel, the son of an inventor, keeps devising new ways for musicians and record labels to use the Web to control their work and to make — not lose — money.

His two newest Internet ventures — We7, an advertising-driven music site, and TheFilter.com, which offers personally tailored multimedia recommendations — have received strong financial backing and positive user reviews in early tests.