An Intriguing Business Model: Superdistribution and Weedshare

Time to discuss an intriguing idea — Shared Media Licensing’s Weedshare music service (at

Weedshare allows users to distribute songs through Superdistribution in a manner that resembles P2P. However, all songs distributed by Weedshare are licensed from rights owners and protected by Microsoft DRM technology to stop unauthorized reproductions.

Network users on Weedshare can download tunes from Weedshare for a standard download fee, say $0.99. With rights to Superdistribute, users may then create blogs and websites to recommend and maintain their favorite music tunes to others. A distributor receives a commission for each track sold from her blog or website. Each distributor also receives payments for subsequent distributions of their tracks made by others. For any track sold, the artist gets paid 50 percent, the service 15 percent, and the distributor(s) 35 percent.

Let’s take an example of how Suppose a user purchases a track from Weedshare for $1.00. The artist and the Weedshare service split the payment 50/50. If the primary track is resold at $1.00, the artist gets paid another 50 cents, the service 15 cents, and the initiating distributor 35 cents. If the track is distributed by any subsequent recipient, the initiating and secondary distributors split the commission 15 cents/20 cents. If the track is distributed yet a third time, the three distributors split the commission 5 cents /10 cents/20 cents. Artists evidently benefit from the word of mouth.

Weedshare now distributes the music of some 6,000 artists, though no major labels. Rights owners can choose the prices of their individual tracks, and may modify the price for any new tracks at any time.

The big gain? The service develops interlocking strata of tastemakers; i.e., intermediaries who provide information to searching music fans. Once fans learn to trust a particular blog or website, their return traffic rewards the investment in passing new information on, and creates an incentive for more engagement. The Weedshare system then provides a means of cutting through the fog and clutter of countless releases with no filtering system — a considerable difficulty in digital distribution. Moreover, the bottleneck of radio and retail is broken as users and artists interact through channels that are independent of each.

Final point. Consider how much better this is than KaZaa or BitTorrent, where no financial incentives for intermediation exists. Now consider how harmful KaZaa and BitTorrent are to this innovative model; potential users are diverted to an inferior distribution model that promises only a zero price made possible by infringing copyright.