Name/age:Wayne Irving II, 29
Company/description: SpinRecords.com features downloadable music and gives independent and unsigned musicians an Internet presence.
Based: San Diego
1999 sales: $450,000
2000 projections: $17.5 million
Tuning in: An ex-Marine from central Florida with no industry experience thinks he can go up against mega online-music distributor/promoter MP3.com-and survive? You bet! While running a Web development firm, Irving took an Internet record shop, SpinRecords.com, and turned it into one of the Net's most prolific digital music distributors.
Purchasing his domain name for a mere $140, Irving built SpinRecords.com as a thank-you to a record-store-owner friend, but he soon fell in love with the digital music model and, in 1999, started hounding VC firms and banks, pushing his innovative "farm label" concept. But with no contacts, Irving found himself $300,000 in debt. Then it happened: The day after he made an appointment to file for bankruptcy, two investors offered him $15 million.
All you need is love: Irving had always held independent musicians in high regard-his father had played gigs in Florida surf bars, and his great aunt and uncle had their own country band. But his compassion grew tenfold when he did a little homework on the industry by catching episodes of VH1's Behind The Music. "I was amazed by what I found," recalls Irving. "You can get a tremendous education from VH1 on what these labels and producers have done to these bands. I suddenly became so passionate about it."
Lust for life: SpinRecords.com's motto is "showing the love," and Irving, no industry insider, says he doesn't know how to screw over bands. What SpinRecords.com does provide its more than 600 indie bands is love in the form of advertising and concert-footage production, and also posts videos, digital downloads, band info and sells CDs on the site.
The future's so bright: With a staff of friends and former industry experts, Irving has partnered with up to 100 print publications and incubates nine other companies. "We've spent very little on marketing," says Irving, "and we have more traffic per band than any other music site."