In another move to wrap its arms around the Internet, Universal Music Group--the world's largest music company--yesterday announced an alliance with America Online, USA Networks and MTV Networks to find and promote new talent through the Web. The partners' point of convergence will be a new Universal record label called Jimmy and Doug's Farm Club--as in Jimmy Iovine, co-chairman of Universal's Interscope Geffen A&M banner, and Universal Music Chairman Doug Morris. The label, to be housed at www.farmclub.com, will let unsigned artists digitally submit recordings for fans and industry execs to critique. Anyone who uploads music can compete for a major record label, and Universal Music will market and distribute selected Farm Club releases using both the Internet and traditional channels . . .

Van Halen has parted ways with its third lead singer, Gary Cherone, after the rock group's one album with the former Extreme frontman flopped. In a statement released on its Web site, the band said the departure was "both mutual and amicable and they remain good friends." Cherone, who replaced Sammy Hagar in 1996, is pursuing "new musical ventures," while Van Halen is working on its new album. The statement did not mention any replacement for Cherone or cite any reasons for his departure. Cherone sang on "Van Halen III," which was released in March last year and was the only one of Van Halen's 13 albums since 1978 not to go platinum . . .

Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell declared herself "gobsmacked" Sunday when she beat Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton to the top of British pop charts. The media had hyped the race to be No. 1 since Halliwell, a k a "Ginger Spice," and Bunton both released singles last Monday. "I am the happiest girl in England. I've got the biggest grin on my face," Halliwell told BBC's Radio One . . .

The late country legend Hank Williams has been inducted into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame. Williams, who died in 1953, had Cherokee and Creek ancestry.