BitTorrent Begins Directly Promoting Content Creators Willing To Embrace New Forms Of Distribution

from the a-step-forward dept

We've covered the Pioneer One and Yes Men video releases via BitTorrent, in combination with Vodo, and now BitTorrent Inc. is trying to ramp up similar efforts as well. This week it's helping to promote a new album released via BitTorrent from the artist PAZ, as it kicks off an effort to help those who embrace BitTorrent for distribution.

One of the obvious benefits of using BitTorrent or other forms of free music distribution is that it makes it easier for people to hear your music. But, of course, you still need to convince them to make that first step and download -- and so these recent efforts to use a BitTorrent release specifically to promote a bit of content is interesting. I imagine that the skeptical response is that "this only works when just a few artists are doing it." That may be true in the present form, but I would bet that if more and more content creators embrace these forms of distribution, in combination with smarter business models, there will be many ways to deal with it, including greater personalization/filters for those who are actively promoting their works via platforms like BitTorrent.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Patrik, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 2:59pm


    Forgive me, I'm not hyper familiar with Bittorrent. How are they promoting artists? Is there an ingrown community "street teaming" the releases online in their forums, or does Bittorrent have ads promoting what you should be downloading? I'm just confused, because in my limited experience, people only seem to log on to torrent sites to get the specific file they're looking for. Do people really browse on a torrent site?

    I'm honestly not trying to be snarky or anything. I just don't know how promotion by the site works exactly. (I'm locked out of it while I'm at work, naturally).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 3:16pm

    Helps legitimise both

    This helps legitimise the use of efficient distribution technology so it's good for the likes of BitTorrent, Pirate Bay, etc. It's also a toe in the water to encourage others that this is the future for delivering one's art to one's audience.

    The only thing that's still waiting to be fully developed is technology for the exchange in the other direction: sharing the artist's commission among the fans gladly wanting to incentivise their work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    BigKeithO (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Promote?

    It looks like this particular promotion involves uTorrent (a BitTorrent client) bundling an album with any new download of their client software, BitTorrent Inc develops uTorrent.

    I think it is a little ironic that the free album doesn't come as a torrent download at all but rather with an everyday HTML file download (correction, looks like you can grab a torrent as well, however that isn't the main "promotion"). I think to really promote an artist we need to see a central torrent site doing so on the main page or something. The Pirate bay has done similar promotions in the past and from all accounts it has results in greater interest in the artist being promoted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    BigKeithO (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Helps legitimise both

    Did you just say that we are missing a system where the artist shares their profits with his fans?

    How do you figure?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Helps legitimise both

    You can share in paying a commission as well as in receiving one.

    Who else is going to pay the artist except those that have always paid them? Their fans.

    If you remove 100% of the costs of distribution, you should expect to remove the 99% fee traditionally claimed by the publisher. Now the keen fans pay 1%. The artist gets paid the same. The now disintermediated and redundant publisher ends up with nothing. That's why it's the publisher (copyright business model) who's doomed, not the artist nor the audience.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 3:54pm

    The song "Monday" is gratingly hip.

    I like the Good Girls is decent.

    Rest was meh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Karl (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 5:11pm

    Torrent Integration

    I'm still waiting for a CC artists' community website to really make use of this:

    It would help if most webhosts didn't explicitly disallow all torrents. (Dreamhost, for instance, which is mine.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Ron Rezendes (profile), Aug 17th, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Helps legitimise both

    What "IF" fans only paid 10% of what they now (rarely) pay for the music ($2 albums!) and the artist makes 10X more than they used too again leaving the poor publisher out of the entire equation?! Musicians rejoice while they make oodles of money - fans LOVE the 90% discount on now legitimate music and alas the poor publisher bites the dust. I'm just not seeing any drawback here because everyone who did the work (artists) are getting paid even better and the schmuck who sat on his fat ass and did nothing doesn't get a majority slice of the pie that he/she never helped create in the first place. WIN-WIN-WIN!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 12:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Helps legitimise both

    Well sure, absolutely. It could easily happen that an artist ends up with more from fans direct than the publishers would have permitted in royalties.

    However, I find I have an uphill struggle trying to persuade anyone that an artist's fans will pay them even a penny. People are so easily confused between copies being free and performance & recordings not being free. So it's easier to keep the equations like this:

    1,000 fans buy copies for $10,000.
    99,000 punters buy copies for $990,000.
    Label keeps 99%=$990,000 (wages, costs, overheads, profit, etc.).
    Artist gets $10,000.

    1,000 fans pay commission of $10,000.
    Billions of punters get free copies (copyleft).
    Label is disintermediated.
    Artist gets $10,000.

    Remove the crap (copyright, monopoly protected prices, greedy publisher, highly inefficient service) and you're left with a far simpler exchange: the artist's intellectual work for their fans' commission.

    Art for money, money for art.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    KGWagner (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 4:33am

    Regardless of what artists can do, good, bad, or indifferent, BitTorrent needs to engage/encourage any activity that shows it's not merely a way to break copyright. As it is, it looks to some like some kind of dope dealer, only existing to facilitate the misguided behavior of others. As such, it's easier to simply outlaw their existence in a misguided and ineffective effort to control that behavior.

    Thing is, bittorrent is an excellent way to exchange large files at low cost. The F/OSS community, for instance, makes heavy use of it to distribute software. This is literally free stuff that the authors/owners want to be spread around (or at least don't care if it is), but due to lack of compensation aren't usually willing to sponsor large server farms and administrative oversight to do it. Bittorrent is the perfect solution. Spread the time/cost over a large base to the point where it isn't even noticed, and everybody's happy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Aug 18th, 2010 @ 4:58am

    misleading article

    bittorrent run by bram the sellout man
    is not promoting pioneer one, as the article seems to infer.
    NO that distinction went to the pirate bay.
    which bce inc every time i use it throttles me to dial up speed......

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 5:21am


    Do you really mean 'lack of compensation'? Are you sure you don't mean 'lack of monopoly profits'?

    Remember 'free software' is free as in 'free speech', not as in 'free beer'.

    Do you really believe those who produce software that is GPL licensed are somehow unable to be sufficiently compensated?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    mkam (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 8:34am

    Re: Promote?

    I browse torrent sites all the time. Sometimes I am looking for a particular file but other times it is to just see if anything peaks my interest. Most have RSS feeds that you can subscribe to which is akin to browsing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 9:39am


    "As such, it's easier to simply outlaw their existence in a misguided and ineffective effort to control that behavior."

    The RIAA and the Labels would love bit torrent to be outlawed. Not because of piracy, but because it is one of the distrition channels that obsoletes them, and allows artists to distribute content without them. The piece missing from the equation, the thing that will fully and truely wipe out the record labels, is promotion. Which is what this article is about.

    MM- "But, of course, you still need to convince them to make that first step and download"

    A simple way to get people to try new music would be a weekly top 100 list of CC music from a central source and build a following. Distributed through torrent freak, here, and the top music blogs, a link done weekly in twitter, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    BigKeithO (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Re: misleading post

    Wha?? What are you talking about exactly?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Simon Morris (BitTorrent team), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    A couple of clarifications:
    @3 (BigKeithO) - the bundled promotion is an option while you are installing our uTorrent software - it is a torrent file - and we also promote a torrent hosted at

    @11 (NAMELESS.ONE) - I'm afraid you are wrong - PioneerOne was indeed promoted by many torrent sites (including ThePirateBay) and was ALSO an optional bundled torrent in the uTorrent client installer (just like with PAZ) - we were probably responsible for over half of the total distribution of PioneerOne

    @ everyone discussing the business model here - PAZ is interested in publicity and building a following - he's not interested in trying to exploit copyright to extract money - he wants to raise his profile, build a fan base and he believes this will improve his marketability as a live performing artist as well as open other doors that are currently closed to him

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: misleading post

    Just ignore him. I am beginning to think he is a faulty Bot someone created and left running. He seems to mis-quote partial lines from previous comments in techdirt articles.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 18th, 2010 @ 11:47am

    "this only works when just a few artists are doing it."

    The same thing can be said for being a pop star. It only works when a few people are big name pop stars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    PAZ, Aug 25th, 2010 @ 4:43am

    this is paz

    Hey guys, this is PAZ -- I'm the guy who put his album on Bittorrent.

    @simon is right. Goal was to quickly distribute my music to as many people as possible. Goal was not to make money. See this post for more:

    @hephaestus Personally, I hope the labels start looking at bittorrent as a distribution platform they can use to break new artists. I wouldn't mind being the first case study -- before bittorrent, only a handful of people had heard of me; now more than 250,000 people around the world have my album after a week. Pretty cool.

    @KGWagner So true. My album was distributed under a CC license. Bittorrent was the ideal solution for an unknown artist like me to get speedy, wide distribution. Other artists should follow this path.

    @Anonymous Coward: Glad you liked Monday, Bad Girls. For the rest, here's your money back: $0

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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