Below is a press release announcing a partnership between Weedshare and Magnatune. I tried to hit the DRM issue head-on in the release, as that's likely the most contentious issue with our existing Magnatune fans.
Bottom line: this is an alternative way for people to buy Magnatune music, in a scheme where they can themselves make money by sharing their bought files with other people, in what is typically referred to as an "affiliate network." We absolutely will continue to sell DRM-free music through the magnatune web site, but for those who wish to make money by sharing their files, that option is now there.
The Limewire aspect of this arrangement is not so well explained in the release. Limewire runs a site called MagnetMix which promotes music that is p2p legal. They plan to relaunch the site with another name, and promote much more heavily inside Limewire. Presumably because of the Grokster legal decision they're looking to move into non-infringing uses more aggressively, which is good news for music companies like Magnatune. I've avoided putting files onto P2P because it's hard to get people with non-nagging music on their hard drive to convert into buying the music, but the combination of weedshare + limewire appeals to me and may work (business wise)
Weedshare, Magnatune, LimeWire in Distribution Partnership Seattle, London, New York; December 12, 2005—Three pioneers in the on-line distribution of music files have joined forces. Magnatune (www.magnatune.com), a London-based online record label, Seattle's Shared Media Licensing, Inc. (www.weedshare.com), and New York-based peer-to-peer innovator Lime Wire LLC (www.limewire.com) will cooperate in distributing and promoting Magnatune's 200 artists via SML's unique Weedshare file sharing service.
Under the agreement, Magnatune's entire catalog of more than 400 albums will be converted into Weed files that can be freely downloaded and legally shared with others through any means, including peer-to-peer ("P2P") networks. File sharers can play the songs 3 times for free, and after buying the tracks, automatically earn commissions when they share them with others.
Magnatune music will be offered through the Weedshare and Magnatune web sites, as well as through LimeWire's upcoming LimeClick.com site. LimeClick is designed to provide a "launchpad" for populating the Gnutella P2P network with legal content, which can then be searched for and retrieved with LimeWire's software.
Says Magnatune CEO John Buckman: "This agreement enables our company to move into three distinct new areas. Firstly, we can now work with peer-to-peer companies, as well as fans of that technology, to enable much wider distribution, exposure and experimentation with our music catalog. Secondly, this enables an affiliate network, where every buyer of a Weedshare-enabled Magnatune song is effectively a reseller, enjoying a profit every time the files they share are themselves purchased. For example, podcasters can now sell the songs they are playing on their shows, and thus build a business model for their continued existence. Finally, this allows single songs to be purchased, where currently only albums may be bought."
Buckman says he had long been intrigued by Weedshare's business model, and was won over when he met Weed co-founder Steve Turnidge at a Future of Music Conference in Washington, DC. The two shared excitement in finding new business models for music. Both companies aim to promote diversity in music, lowering the costs of distribution and sales, so that musicians can focus on their art.
Magnatune's basic philosophy is strongly anti-DRM (copy protection). Indeed, the Magnatune home page states "no copy protection (DRM) ever." Weedshare does use DRM to enable the additional features it brings to the media file. Why the seeming change in policy? "I still believe that once you buy the music, you should own it and there shouldn't be any technological restrictions on the use of that file," says Buckman. "However, in order to enable Weedshare's 'make-money-when-you-share' business model, some sort of tracking and control must be added to the file." This is in line with the recent recommendation of analysts at Gartner Research that "the industry would be better served by efforts to develop solutions that use DRM as an accounting/tracking tool, rather than as a lock."
In an industry first, Magnatune will be making its catalog available in "lossless" format to balance the competing interests of user rights vs. security. This enables buyers to burn purchased Weed files to audio CD with absolutely no loss of quality. This perfect-quality CD has no DRM and can be ripped to MP3 or any other desired format with no second-generation quality loss (unlike all other existing music/DRM offerings).
As always, Magnatune will split all the money it receives 50/50 with its artists.
Weed's Chief Evangelist, Steve Turnidge, remarked "Weed is based on an ideal that if you treat everybody fairly, you can be successful while helping great music get heard. Magnatune shares that ideal and we're delighted to be working with them."
As part of the agreement, a different Magnatune artist will be featured weekly on the Weedshare home page (www.weedshare.com/).
Founded in 2003, Magnatune (www.magnatune.com) is an independent, online record label that hand selects its own artists, sells its catalog of music through online downloads and print-on-demand CDs and licenses music for commercial and non-commercial use. Based on the principle that "we are not evil," the company offers fair-trade music to consumers by equally splitting all revenue from the sale of albums with artists and allowing artists to retain full rights to their music. All music can be previewed free of charge with a "try before you buy" philosophy. Customers can also choose how much they want to pay for the music with pricing ranging from $5-18 for a downloadable album or print-on-demand CD.
About Shared Media Licensing, Inc.
SML debuted its Weedshare service in 2003 and has thousands of artists and record labels distributing music in its unique Weed file format. The company was a finalist in the World Technology Network's 2004 Entertainment Award competition.
Lime Wire LLC is the maker of the peer-to-peer file sharing program LimeWire, downloaded over 50 million times since the company's inception in 2000. LimeClick (formerly MagnetMix) was launched in 2002, and showcases the web's best independent digital content.