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ARTISTDIRECT TAKES STOCK
Initial Public Offering Sputters
At Starting Gate
The long-awaited ARTISTdirectinitial public offering has finally arrived and the highly visible online company surprised many by falling short of heightened expectations.

Stock in ARTISTdirect began trading on the NASDAQ Tuesday, opening at $12 a share and closing at 913/32. That’s a drop of 21.61%. Over the course of the day, the stock fluctuated between 81/2 - 123/4.

The online music entertainment company, which is backed by BMG Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group – filed to raise about $55 million in an IPO of 5 million shares. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is lead underwriter.

ARTISTdirect operates Web sites for artists, a music search engine, an online community, a retail site, the ARTISTdirect Talent Agency and Kneeling Elephant Records.

In January, the company secured $97.5 million in equity investments, including four of the five major label groups in addition to Cisneros Television and Yahoo!

ARTISTdirect declined to comment on the IPO, but directed all phone inquiries to MP3.com.

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