Thom Yorke’s New Album Is The First “Paygated” Bundle From BitTorrent

BitTorrent says it’s ready to help musicians and other creators start selling digital content.

Today the company is announcing a new “paygate” feature for Bundles, which are promotional packages of content shared through BitTorrent by publishers or the artists themselves. Even before officially launching the Bundle platform a year ago, BitTorrent was talking about the potential to add paywalls. Initially, however, consumers were presented with other kinds of requirements — the first gated Bundle, for example, offered half the content with no strings attached, but the other half required users to provide an email address.

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is the first musician to release a paygated Bundle — specifically his solo album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. Fans can get a single track and video for free, but must pay $6 for the rest of the album.

In a press release, Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich describe the Bundle as “an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around.” They also suggest that if it works, paygated Bundles “could be an effective way of some control of Internet commerce back to people who are creating the work.”

As for the logistics, BitTorrent says that publisher or artist is responsible for the transaction fees, and the company takes a 10 percent fee for itself. The publisher/artist gets the rest of the money, and they keep the associated fan data as well. (Update: I forgot to mention that buyers will only be able to download the album a limited number of times before it’s “locked” and can’t be opened again.)

Over the summer, the company announced that BitTorrent Bundles had been downloaded 100 million times.

image credit: Flickr/angela n.