Over the past few years, BitTorrent has worked to move beyond its associations with online piracy by giving tools to musicians, filmmakers and other creators so they can distribute and market their work.
Now the company’s taking that mission a step further, by funding the work of a select group of creators. Straith Schreder, BitTorrent’s vice president of creative initiatives, told me that the new Discovery Fund isn’t so much aimed at bringing new movies, songs and other artistic work into existence. Instead, it’s supposed to help that work find an audience.
After all, she said that when BitTorrent surveyed independent creators at the end of last year, they identified online distribution as the biggest challenge they face.
“Basically, your career lives and dies by discovery,” Schreder said.
So BitTorrent will be providing between $2,500 and $100,000 in funding to 25 different creators (BitTorrent might even “stretch” to accommodate more than 25 creators, Schreder said). Some of that funding will come in the form of support and promotion on the BitTorrent platform, but the money could also pay for ad campaigns on other sites.
Nor is the content expected to remain exclusive to BitTorrent — Schreder said the company is just asking for a brief period of exclusivity (seven to 10 days for music, 30 days for video), but after that, the creator can distribute their work however they please. (They also retain ownership of the work.)
“It’s about being able to — via a grant — explore new work across mediums,” Schreder said. “And understanding how to build content, how to build art for the Internet, and being able to back it.”
BitTorrent is already announcing one of the winners — the filmmakers behind the dream-focused anthology movie collective:unconscious.
Schreder added that because of the focus on distribution and promotion, BitTorrent is looking for projects that are already in-progress (rather than an idea that you want to get started): “It’s really about getting [the project] over the line, in collaboration with the creator.”
You can read more about the Discovery Fund on the BitTorrent blog.