Superdistribution

I remember the first time I heard this term, it was 1997 and someone was explaining a complicated digital rights management scheme to me. I invested in that complex digital rights management scheme and lost everything and have been dubious of DRM ever since.

But superdistribution is something I’ve become obsessed with. Superdistribution means turning every consumer into a distribution partner. Every person who buys a record, a movie, reads a newspaper, a book, every person who buys a Sonos or a Vespa becomes a retailer of that item. It’s word of mouth marketing, referral marketing, but with one important difference. The consumer is the retailer.

I’ve wanted to be a superdistributor ever since. When I talk about music, books, politics, Sonos, Blackberry, MacBook, or anything else, I want all of you to be able to click and buy. When I buy something, I want to be able to pass it along to everyone else and get paid for doing that. And I want the people who created the thing I pass along to get paid too.

A lot of people who read and comment on this blog think I am anti content creator, that I want to eliminate property rights. Wrong. The thing I want to eliminate is FRICTION. I want to supercharge commerce. I want to turn everyone on to Arcade FIre. I want to them to sell 100 million Arcade Fire mp3s. And I want to get paid for doing my part.

My friend Steve calls me anti establishment. He’s right. I am done with the old way of selling goods. I don’t want to buy from an institution. I want to buy from my friends. And I want to sell to them.

The technology largely exists for this to happen. Society is moving this way. Superdistribution is the future. All we need is the technology to make it happen. It’s way more than an affiliate program. That’s the first step, but not the last step. Whenever you buy something, you should get a web account that makes you a reseller of that item. At a discount to the retail price. And you should get a decent margin for demand creation. It shouldn’t require any effort on your part.

We are close to an environment where superdistribtion can flourish, but we aren’t there yet. A few more years of technolgy and business model innovation and we’ll be there. I can’t wait.