DJ Shadow & BitTorrent Team Up To Monetize Free Downloads

Posted July 24

BitTorrent and legendary electronic musician DJ Shadow are teaming up today to test out a whole new way to monetize free downloads: A bundle of tunes from DJ Shadow’s Hidden Transmissions From The MPC Era (1992-1996) featuring a free software download from one of BitTorrent’s advertising partners that garners the musician cash every time a user yoinks it.

DJ Shadow’s Hidden Transmissions From The MPC Era (1992-1996) is currently available for pre-order on his website (it drops on August 15), but fans can grab three tracks from the collection today via a BitTorrent bundle. The bundle also includes archival footage, photos and info, as well an optional software download (likely some form of media player). Every time a user downloads the free software, DJ Shadow will score a cut of the advertising revenue that BitTorrent collects from partners for each exchange.

This is a new concept for BitTorrent, a contested company (in that it’s a filesharing tool) that has been launching campaigns and programs supporting artists for years now. The service introduced its Artists Spotlight Program two years ago, an initiative that allows artists to apply to be highlighted on the site — and in front of BitTorrent’s 150 million users. It also frequently offers bundles such as DJ Shadow’s (minus the free software download, until now), most recently releasing new material from Counting Crows.

“The big problem for the entertainment industry has been that people share things relentlessly online and nothing is ever going to stop that,” says BitTorrent’s Executive Director of Marketing Matt Mason of the new program. “What we’re trying to do with this experiment is look at it from a different way and see if we can actually monetize the way that people really behave, because if we can do that — if we can figure out a way to do that that makes sense for fans and for artists — it changes everything.”

So why bake a whole other product into the equation? Why not just lace tunes with advertisements? “The thinking here was to have something that didn’t actually have to interfere with the content itself,” says Mason. “We wanted to add something that added to the content, but the consumer didn’t actually have to download it if they didn’t want to.” To that end, all free software downloads will be relevant to users.

According to BitTorrent and Michael Fiebach, founder and CEO DJ Shadow’s digital marketing team Fame House, the musician was the natural choice for the inaugural bundle.”He was one of the first artists to have an autonomous storefront on his website and he was the first artist to license music back from his major label to have a direct-to-fan store,” Fiebach says. “This is just the next step in his process of figuring out new ways to have a viable business model in the ever-evolving digital music space.”

And BitTorrent hopes other artists will follow Shadow’s lead. Mason stresses that although the company is currently doing the heavylifting by featuring bands and promoting bundles, BitTorrent doesn’t want to be a content company.

“What you’re going to see from here on out is a much more dedicated and concerted effort to actually monetize content directly for content creators,” Mason says. “This is the way most of the world’s media is shared and our job is to create really strong conduits between creators and consumers and really just get out of their way and let them do their thing. These experiments are about finding out what kind of options we can give people, what kind of tools we can give to creators and publishers to get to the fanbases they want to get to.”

What do you think of BitTorrent’s new monetization plan? Will it help put more money in the hands of bands?

Image courtesy of DJ Shadow, Facebook