Song Sharing for Your Cell Phone
By Matthew Maier

(Business 2.0) – The Recording industry is hoping to enlist millions of new distributors--its listeners. EMI and Sony are considering services that blend file sharing with viral marketing. Called super-distribution, the technology lets users download digital content to their cell phones and forward it to friends. Have a hip-hop MP3 you like? Send it to your pals, who get to hear it once for free. For a few bucks, they can keep it and share it again. Fans become evangelists, and labels get another bite at the $30 billion digital-music pie. "A friend's recommendation far outweighs an ad," says EMI senior VP Ted Cohen.

Trials with Vodafone and TeliaSonera will begin this spring in the United Kingdom and Finland. Folks on this side of the pond, however, will have to wait until high-speed 3G networks ramp up in the United States. (See "The Next Monopoly," page 76.) Plus, the carriers and labels still have to work out thorny issues such as digital rights management and revenue splits. But by the time this hits the States, as early as 2006, everyone should be singing the same tune. -- MATTHEW MAIER