BitTorrent shiz overtaking the music biz

Downloading is sweeping the music world by eliminating the money-hoarding 3rd party

Anyone who has downloaded music for free over the past few years has likely come across the concept of BitTorrent. This free file sharing software allows you to download files from peers who are using the same platform on their own computers. This makes for faster download time, since there are more accessible files from which to get content.

Now, what you probably haven’t come across is an artist offering their music to be downloaded through BitTorrent, and using the platform to promote and sell their work. This innovative and legal method of content distribution is referred to as BitTorrent Bundles — instantly connecting the artist to the fan.

Artists who are leading the BitTorrent craze include Thom Yorke, Madonna, The Pixies, Public Enemy and Moby. Yorke was actually the first musician to experiment with exclusively releasing content through the bundle. His new album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, was offered through a gated or protected process, meaning once the bundle is purchased, it is limited to one IP address and one computer for downloads.

Up until Yorke’s release just three weeks ago, the BitTorrent Bundles were usually free to users, simply by providing an email address. The Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes bundle comprised eight tracks and a music video for $6. There was even an offer of a free download of one track and video off the album.

So why was the album so inexpensive? Because BitTorrent takes a significantly smaller cut from the sales, therefore the artist doesn’t have to rely on a record label. So really, it’s a win-win.

Music and music videos aren’t the only creative content available in bundle form. Companies like Bond/360 Labs and VODO offer films through digital downloads. FilmBundle and Cinepacks are websites that curate groups of selected films into “pay what you want” bundles. Depending on how much you pay, you can gain access to special behind-the-scenes content and extras.

The release for Yorke in particular was evidently a success, with over one million downloads of his album, including both the paid bundle and free track. Services like Amazon and iTunes and now even BitTorrent prove customers don’t need to have a tangible album in their hands. The artwork is there: downloads come with booklets, videos and more. The only thing one might be looking for in the physical record are lyrics, but given that you can usually find them on Google, well, you don’t even need those anymore.

Although there are cons to the BitTorrent Bundle accessibility — since you need a computer to download the content, and there isn’t a cloud service to synchronize across all devices — the pros outweigh these inconveniences. The artist can connect directly with the fans without a third party distributing their material and taking a large cut. Also, you don’t need to create an account to use BitTorrent and, of course, there is a constant stream of new free content ready to be discovered.

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