My wife says I listen to angry music.

I don't necessarily agree, but with bands named Puddle of Mudd, Disturbed, Staind and The White Stripes (search) being among some of my favorites, she might have a point.

But despite all the angst-ridden lyrics and screaming guitar riffs of today's hard rock, I find something very soothing beneath all the noise. The songs almost force you to confront whatever demons or fears that lie deep within your soul, and the band members themselves seem to personify that notion.

Watching music videos on FUSE these days is like watching HBO's Oz meets Revenge of the Nerds. Who knew the tattooed kid sitting alone in the school cafeteria had a hit song in him?

It shouldn't surprise us however.  After all, who better than the "uncool" kids of the audio-visual department (remember the only kids who knew how to program the school's VCR?) to embrace today's technology to make and distribute their own music?

But producing one's own album, even a good one, does not guarantee success.

I recently featured a singer/songwriter named Rick Henrickson in a segment on FOX Magazine (Sundays 11 p.m. EST on FNC). His just-released debut album, Reaching for a Gun, was financed 100 percent out of his own pocket, and is available through his producer's Web site EngineCompanyRecords.com.

With inspiration from the music of Elvis Costello, John Lennon and Aimee Mann, Henrickson crafts a fun CD that deserves the attention of a major record label. The catchy single "Cool Dry Place" is a natural for a movie or television commercial.

"It's a great tune," says Ramsay Adams, music supervisor at Fox News Channel. "It has that retro Beatles feel, and certainly could find a place on a soundtrack," says Adams, who is in charge of putting music on the air at FNC.

Adams says aspiring songsters have to get their music in the hands of music supervisors (search) who work on films and at ad agencies if they're looking for exposure. "Those people are not that difficult to find," he says.

There is also potential for exposure from video games as well. John Madden's NFL 2003 game for Sony's Playstation2, for example, features music from new and big-name artists.

But getting songs heard by recording executives, however, is an uphill battle that is getting increasingly steeper in these troubling times for the music industry.

"I don't know that it's any harder to get into the record business now than it's ever been," says Billboard magazine's (search) Brian Garrity.

He says no matter what the market is doing, there is no sure way of breaking into the industry.

"It's a scattershot thing," says Garrity. "It's all about a grassroots element, and the Internet is a good way to build an audience and communicate with it. Then you can turn around to labels and say look, I have this many hits, or streams. Here is my fan database, etc."

"But there's a lot of hard work and a lot of intangibles in place here," he says.

And then there's the music video factor. After maxing out credit cards and depleting the savings account to get your record made, selling albums and making your money back without exposure on MTV or the newer FUSE (search) is extremely difficult.

But FUSE president Marc Juris says making a video these days is not a scary proposition.

"It's all about creativity, drive and desire," says Juris. "You can go to Comp USA and buy whatever you need to make your own video for a couple thousand dollars," he says.

"And the song is the narrative of the video," adds Juris. "A great song will make a great video."

So what's next for Rick Henrickson and thousands more like him?

It all depends on who you ask. Garrity says probably nothing, citing immense competition in a consolidating industry. Juris agrees to a point, saying without the infrastructure of sales, promotions and media relations personnel working on your behalf, it's nearly impossible to become the next big thing.

However, both say everybody in the industry is always looking for new talent.

"To the extent that he [Henrickson] has an album that demonstrates his talent could get him the attention of a major record label," says Juris. "It's a great way for him to show that he could be the next big thing for that label."

That's reassuring coming from someone who knows what it's like to go up against a giant.

"We [FUSE] are the music video network that actually plays music," says Juris. "And we want to kick [MTV's] ass!"

Mike Straka is the project manager for Fox News' Internet operations and contributes as a features reporter and producer on FOX Magazine (Sundays 11 p.m. on FNC) and as a reporter and columnist for Foxnews.com.

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