For many readers, the name BitTorrent may be synonymous with online piracy, but there’s plenty of legal file-sharing too — and the company says that it’s actually experimenting with new business models that allow artists to make money.
Today, for example, it’s launching a new bundle created in partnership with digital marketing company Fame House and its client DJ Shadow. The bundle is supposed to include exclusive content from and inspired by DJ Shadows’ archival release Hidden Transmissions From The MPC Era (1992-1996), and yes, it will be available for free.
This isn’t the first time BitTorrent has worked with artists to create free, exclusive bundles. In fact, the company say those kinds of featured content partnerships (which include filmmakers, authors, and game developers, too) have driven tens of millions of downloads. What’s new, however, is the business model attached to the bundle — whenever someone downloads it, they’ll see an offer for free software from one of BitTorrent’s advertisers. And if someone accepts the offer and downloads the software, BitTorrent will pass part of the payment on to DJ Shadow.
“Because the offer will be in every torrent shared, we’re leveraging the BitTorrent ecosystem in a new way,” says Matt Mason, the company’s executive director of marketing. “The more people that share this Bundle, the greater the chances the artist will make money, directly from the BitTorrent Bundle. That’s new, and it’s a model we’re going to keep developing here.”
It sounds like the exact details of how this model works may change over time — in his blog post announcing the Bundle, CEO Eric Klinker describes this as “the first of a number of new advertising experiments we’ll be testing in-client, on our websites and other media properties in the next few months.” But there’s something promising here — as Mason points out, what’s exciting is the fact that it’s a business model that actually benefits from file-sharing, rather than discouraging it.