'Weed' Files, Beck

The Tangled Web, a weekly column featuring interesting music-related online destinations. This week: Weed files and Beck.

CULTIVATING WEED: Two weeks ago, "The Tangled Web" tipped readers to a promotion using peer-to-peer file-trading networks to distribute new music from veteran rockers Heart.

Web-goers intrigued by the promotion and its use of "Weed" files with a unique digital rights management construction should check the Weed's Web site, where it is offering for download nearly 1,500 music files from more than 150 artists.

The downloads work as described for the Heart promotion -- a user can get the song and listen three times for free. Upon the fourth attempt at listening to the track, the user will be prompted to purchase it using downloaded Weed software; a purchase allows unlimited future listens.

One of the main selling points of the Weed format is the way it exploits the P2P environment for the good of the artists and fans. A profit-sharing system rewards users who "share" their files with other consumers who end up buying the tracks. As the site puts it, "Instead of punishing fans who don't respect artists' rights, Weed thinks it makes more sense to reward those who do."

Among the artists whose music is currently featured on the site are Dirty Power, Coldthroat, Gary Nielsen, Jack Endino, Komeda and the Crickets.

Beck10 YEARS OF 'GOLD': It's been a decade since iconoclastic junk-pop/folk/funk maven Beck burst onto the scene with his major-label debut, "Mellow Gold," and its omnipresent single, "Loser."

In tribute, the artist's official Web site earlier this summer debuted a three-part documentary about the making of "Mellow Gold" and the history of Beck's rise to fame. The streaming documentary is viewable in QuickTime, Windows Media or Real Media.

The site is also streaming selected songs from Beck's 1993 and 1994 appearances on KCRW Los Angeles' "Morning Becomes Eclectic," including "Loser," rarities such as "MTV Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack" and "Dead Man With No Heart" and the cut "It's All in Your Mind," which later appeared on the artist's 2002 Geffen album "Sea Change."