BitTorrent Steps Up Monetization Efforts By Taking Its (Potentially Paywalled) Content Bundles Into Alpha

BitTorrent is taking a new step today in its efforts to help creators make money (and make money itself) — it’s releasing a new content packaging format called the BitTorrent Bundle in alpha mode.

The company has already been working with different creators to launch promotional bundles. For example, author Tim Ferriss packaged chapters of his book with other supplementary media material as a way to promote sales of his newest work, while musicians like DJ Shadow have used BitTorrent to promote new tracks and albums. However, spokesperson Christian Averill told me that today’s announcement signals the company’s intention to move beyond one-off experiments and actually “productize” these efforts.

Averill also said that today is the first time BitTorrent has actually “gated” one of these bundles. Specifically, it’s partnering with music label Ultra to promote the behind-the-scenes documentary of Kaskade’s 2012 Freaks of Nature tour. Users can access half the content (a remix and a tour trailer) for free, but to get the rest (a digital tour booklet and unreleased footage of Kaskade’s Staples Center show), they need to enter their email address. In his blog post announcing the bundle, BitTorrent’s vice president of marketing Matt Mason described the package as a “functional record store.”

“This is a completely new way to look at monetizing content,” Mason said. “Instead of putting the content in the store, what if you put the store in the content? What if the interaction happened in the unit of content in itself?”

Mason said that the first bundle focuses on collecting email addresses, because for most musicians, email is “the most important way to connect with fans.” At the same time, he said BitTorrent will be experimenting with other ways to structure the bundle, including ones where users actually pay money to. (When he spoke to us last fall, Mason said that the music business has become more relationship-based, meaning that musicians usually have to build a relationship with their fans before they can start asking them to pay.)

The ultimate goal is to release a publishing tool that will allow any artist to create their own bundles, and to structure those bundles however they like — that’s probably coming in the fourth quarter of this year.

“BitTorrent users are clearly fans,” Mason added. “It’s now up to us to build the right sort of publishing tools so that that relationship between artists and fans can just be completely optimized.”