was the first of several people to submit the story about Sprint "sponsoring" the P2P download of 16 million copies
of a song by the artist Plies. Sprint is paying a "substantial six-figure" sum to embed its logo in the song (apparently as the cover art), so that when users play the downloaded track on their computer or MP3 player, it will be displayed. It's an interesting tactic, both in terms of an advertising strategy, but also on the part of the artist and record label. While the label is still focused on selling the music, this is another small step in investigating some alternative business models. What's slightly odd, though, is that MediaDefender is in on the deal. It sounds like it's the middleman here, hooking up the record label with advertisers, then also uploading the tracks onto the P2P networks. MediaDefender is best known for uploading spoof tracks
to P2P networks on behalf of labels to thwart file-sharers -- so perhaps they do know a thing or two about uploading. But that company's involvement could also be taken as another sign that things are starting to change, and that the music industry realizes it needs to evolve
to survive. But before getting too carried away, plenty of questions remain. Perhaps the biggest has to do with that 16 million downloads figure -- after all, once a track's onto P2P networks, how will the label control how many times its downloaded? Will users be allowed to actually upload and share the track on their own, with no fear of retribution from the label?