U.K. dance act Groove Armada and global drinks brand Bacardi have partnered on an online mechanism that will harness the power of social network sites to distribute the band's new EP.

The announcement at the MIDEM international music market and conference in Cannes comes almost 10 months after Groove Armada signed a 12-month deal with Bacardi. The partnership, for which terms were not disclosed, covers recordings and live performances at Bacardi B-Live events around the world and is part of Bacardi's global music strategy.

As well as being available on traditional download stores on March 2, the new EP will be launched via an online sharing service, www.bliveshare.com, from Jan. 20 for registration. Users who are over the legal drinking age sign up and get to download the first track in MP3 format for free, then to get track two they have to share track one with 20 people, either by emailing directly or using a Facebook app or widget for other social networks.

That sharing process is automated and the original user increases their share count among a network of friends, up to three generations. So one friend could pass it on to several people, and those people could each pass it on to several more, with the original user's share tally constantly increasing.

As the process continues, the original user will get access to more tracks: track three becomes available after 200 shares of track one, and when that reaches 2,000 track four will be unlocked. The more first generation friends, the quicker that total will be reached.

Mat Morrisroe, music director at Bacardi's branding agency KLP, said the service "encourages and rewards consumers for sharing music in a legitimate fashion," adding that it was a "new model challenging the traditional music industry model."

Andy Cato from Groove Armada added: "Over the last few years, a lot of music has become free, and while there will be an on-going market in recorded music for a while, the wave of free music is overwhelming.

"We wanted to find a way of embracing the fact there is free music out there, but giving it value again."

Tom Findlay from Groove Armada added that the duo was "planning to release a couple of albums this year in a different style." The distribution method was not announced. The band's previous deal with Sony BMG expired.

An agreement has been made by Bacardi and Groove Armada with PRS and Warner/Chappell over the distribution platform for the free downloads.

Groove Armada's revenue relating to the release will come from its fee from Bacardi under the 12-month deal and the commercial release of the EP on March 2. In addition to several contracted shows with Bacardi, Groove Armada was also free to earn revenue from its own shows, as long as no other alcohol brands were connected.

The tracks on the EP, released by B-Live Records and digitally distributed by PIAS, are "Drop The Tough," "Go," "Pull Up (Crank It Up)" and "El Padrino."

While all four tracks will surely end up on P2P networks, the rewards scheme encourages people to use the B-Live service, as certain levels of sharing will provide access to Bacardi B-Live events.

The service will be accessible globally, but actively promoted with localized content in 14 markets. The free sharing option on the EP expires on March 1, prior to the commercial release.