Mass Sponsorship: New Way to Pay Artists, Journalists, & Others for Digital Work Online

Mass Sponsorship:

New Way to Pay Artists, Journalists, and Others for Digital Work Online

access is free, sponsors can connect, artists get paid

1. What Is Mass Sponsorship?

Mass sponsorship will let anyone who can pay online (with a bank card, etc.), sponsor a particular song, video, news story, picture, website visit, or other online work they love, want to promote, or want to connect with its audience. A sponsor could pay for 5, 50, 500, 10,000, or any number of copies desired, at low bulk prices.

End users will avoid all payment hassles, since they can just click to access the art, without needing any money, account, registration, or login — provided that a sponsored copy is currently available. And sponsors can share their prepaid copies by email or otherwise, directing them through social networks of their choice. Note that per-copy prices can be very low if the artist wants, even a penny or less.

The sponsor can provide a short message (like a Google ad) to everyone who downloads or streams one of the copies that sponsor paid for. The message could be an ad — or a personal, philosophical, or religious statement, an encouragement, public recognition, call for funds or volunteers, personal ad, or almost anything. This message can reach an audience targeted by interest in the art, and by selected social networks, together.

With mass sponsorship, “pirate” copies must compete with equally free legitimate ones, which most fans of the artist will prefer — greatly reducing any need for DRM (digital rights management, meaning copy restrictions).

Because this system is efficient and not proprietary, almost all the sponsorship money will go to the artists. The service can monetize itself by charging perhaps 1% of all money coming in. If so, then even penniless artists can experiment and see what works, without paying any money until the first sponsorship is sold (and then the artist keeps 99%). No more selling fake dreams for large fees up front.


Smart Link

The sponsor will receive his, her, or its prepaid copies in a smart link — and can share those copies simply by emailing the smart link to friends, colleagues, or other contacts, who can pass it on. Anyone who clicks that link will be able to obtain a free copy, provided that all the sponsored copies have not already been used — and/or purchase additional sponsorship of the same work. Note that a purchase will instantly recharge all copies of that smart link, anywhere in the world — immediately restoring access to the art, if it had gone away.

A smart link (called ‘smart URL’ in earlier writeups) looks like this:
where ‘band’ is the name the artists chose for distributing their work on this system, ‘song’ is the name of the particular work, and ‘en’ is the current language for this instance of the smart link (which can do business in any number of supported languages, simultaneously). ‘’ is the address of the server that manages this mass-sponsorship system; note that sponsors can avoid fraudulent links by paying only through the address of a known or well-recommended business.

Clicking a smart link provides a small dashboard (control center), including a button to download or stream a sponsored copy of the work (if currently available), a button to sponsor more copies, and (optionally) additional information and controls (such as a button for a quick sample, which will always be free, regardless of whether or not sponsored copies are available).



This design gives sponsors many different incentives to pay significant money to the artist, reporter, or other online creator — while freeing end users from all money, payment, and registration hassles. “Free” stays like it’s always been — only this time the artists get paid.

For more information, see Mass Sponsorship / RepliCounts Archive.



: New Financial Infrastructure for Online Commerce

The mass sponsorship proposed above is just one application of a new idea: allowing online financial accounts to replicate (reproduce) when their owner wants them to — creating new, “children” accounts, which can inherit hundreds of active user settings and other options from their parent. These new accounts are instantly and effortlessly set up at “birth,” and ready to go. They can also replicate, through any number of generations.

This kind of replicating account may be entirely new. To our knowledge no such account has ever existed in the history of money. But why do it?

Replicating accounts will make new business and fundraising models feasible, when they would be more difficult today. For one example, consider the mass sponsorship above; each smart link is an account, which optionally can produce a new smart link for a sponsor who wants to maintain full control of who gets the sponsored copies. For another example, the whole infrastructure of a global fundraising contest or game, “played” in many different languages, and including both professional judgment and real-life experience of what worked well in previous campaigns, could be contained in the settings of a single account — allowing rapid customization for a new project, perhaps in an afternoon. Why re-invent the wheel each time?

For more information, see Mass Sponsorship / RepliCounts Archive.

3. RepliCounts Example:

Spam Control

by Charging to Receive Email

An code appearing anywhere in an email could be an account that contains only a few dollars, and pays 5 cents or other small amount from the sender to the recipient of the email (using a special, public email address for this purpose, not affecting ordinary email). No encryption is needed since the amount of money is not worth stealing — and the account could restrict payment to that particular email provider only.

These new “premium” email addresses could be published openly, for anyone to use to contact the recipient for a very small fee. They will be immune to most spam, which could not afford the extra 5 cents ($50 per thousand recipients); without the payment the email will not go through, so there’s no spam mailbox to check. Ordinary email will benefit too, since people could use their premium address, and not risk their regular email address.

RepliCounts are not necessary for this example. But they will provide a uniform infrastructure for easily creating highly restricted accounts that pay small amounts, and can travel freely in ordinary, insecure email.

4. Example: Reaching Celebrities — Or

Instant, Spot Consulting

Experts and celebrities could use the same anti-spam system to charge much more (such as $40 to receive an email from any stranger who wants to contact them). With single-use, single-payee accounts, sending the account in unencrypted email may be OK.

Recipients can adjust their prices as high or low as they wish — creating a new kind of dialog where anybody can easily contact leading experts or famous people about anything, for a price set by the recipient, with no need for the sender to seek a backdoor channel. Recipients may promise certain attention or action in return.

Projects can avoid dead ends by asking key experts early. And well-known experts, celebrities, and others can have a new income stream.

About This Project

“RepliCounts” is an accidental invention of John S. James, in Philadelphia, PA. I have no proprietary claim to this work, and want to develop proof-of-principle software as an open-source project at first — so that anyone will be allowed to use these ideas, commercially or otherwise. The design ready to go.

I’m looking for people to work with on the RepliCounts project. There are many ways to help. It’s volunteer, but if it succeeds the experience will be valuable.

This page archived: last updated 2011-06-14.


John S. James, [email protected].