Weedshare announced to close shop back in April - and two months later people start to take notice. Now, this slight delay already tells you something about the popularity and success Weedshare enjoyed. So, just in case you, like a few others, missed out on it: What the heck was Weedshare?

Weedshare was a digital download platform that used "viral" DRM in combination with a multi-level marketing approach to sell content of indie musicians. Musicians could distribute Weedshare files through their own website, official download locations and P2P networks. Users could listen to a file three times before purchasing it.

They could also make some money by getting other users to buy files, who in turn could make money by reselling those files - and so on. Weedshare paid referal fees up to the third level, which makes them slightly less pyramid-like than your average Utah-based juice conglomerate.

The company had to close shop because Microsofts Windows Media Player 11 apparently doesn't play any Weed files anymore. From the official announcement:

"Windows Media Player 11 will gain in usage over time and the problem will become more common as it does. Rather than operate under steadily deteriorating conditions, we've decided to suspend operations."

Of course this has renewed the discussion about DRM, with John Buckman of Magnatune claiming that "Microsoft broke DRM and WMA compatibility for competitive reasons".

Buckman makes it sound like Microsoft got rid of Weedshare because they felt threatened by it, but the truth is that Weedshare was never much of a success. One of it's biggest announcements, the Weedshare-supported Limewire download shop, never materialized.

CD Baby was supposedly Weedshare's largest content provider, with 60.000 titles available at the end of 2004. Still, 15 months later, CD Baby artists had only made a total of 1348 dollars, which means that Weedshare sold less than 3000 songs of the CD Baby catalogue during that time. Just as a frame of reference: CD Baby got almost three million dollars from iTunes by February 2006.

So Microsoft may have killed Weedshare, but that hardly makes them a weed killer. It's more like they accidentally trampled on an endangered species that wouldn't have survived for much longer anyways.

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