Downloading music using BitTorrent is usually associated with piracy, but the company behind the technology is keen to promote its legal side – announcing that its ‘BitTorrent Bundle’ project has now surpassed 100 million downloads and streams.
Musicians and filmmakers from Madonna to Werner Herzog have signed up to this bundle initiative, offering anything from behind-the-scenes documentaries to entire back catalogues of their work, distributing them over the BitTorrent platform.
BitTorrent’s chief content officer Matt Mason says that the technology is “designed to work the way the Internet does: content becomes more valuable, each time it’s shared.”
In a blog post Mason expanded upon these figures, writing: “Today, 24 hours in BitTorrent Bundle equals over 554K impressions, 167K downloads, and more than 16K streams. Monthly Bundle site visitors have increased from 2.1 million, to 25 million [and] fans are coming back, […] 75% of Bundles site traffic is coming from returning users.”
Although these figures don’t represent a fantastic challenge for the likes of iTunes (Apple’s digital store accounted for 63 per cent of the digital music market in 2013), the BitTorrent Bundle does have some unique advantages.
As Mason mentions, the technology has allowed seminal hip-hop group De La Soul to bypass the various copyright claims that have been retroactively applied to their cut-and-paste discography and distribute their work (the Library of Congress has the group’s 1989 debut 3 Feet High and Rising in their records – but iTunes can’t sell it).
Mason himself describes the company as “idealists,” saying: “We believe in technology as a form of connection; not control. That analog business models shouldn’t be a barrier to culture kept in common. That bandwidth should never be a barrier to creativity. In the days after Net Neutrality, those sound like radical statements. The fact of the matter is that they’re not.”Reuse content