New music from the reformed Pixies previously amounted to merely a one-off iTunes-only single (‘Bam Thwok’) in 2004, but days after the announcement that Kim Deal had left the band, they have released the brand new ‘Bagboy’ track as a BitTorrent bundle.
It’s a two-step redemption process. Anyone going to the BitTorrent/Pixies link page – http://bundles.bittorrent.com/pixies/ – will automatically get a live version of ‘Where Is My Mind?’ from the band’s performance at the 2004 Coachella festival.
In order to get the new song, however, there is an email-harvesting angle where fans have to enter their email address – but as an incentive for doing so they also get the band’s full 20-song Coachella show as a set of MP3s.
BitTorrent is increasingly keen to position itself as being on the side of the artists and an important new marketing and promotional channels for those who don’t see it as synonymous with piracy. Alongside working with acts like DJ Shadow, Pretty Lights and Alex Day, earlier this month Public Enemy used the platform to release a new track as well as its assorted stems for a fan-driven remix competition.
And earlier this week, Matt Mason from the company blogged in response to accusations of BitTorrent being a hotbed for piracy, especially for episodes of Game Of Thrones.
“We don’t host infringing content,” he wrote. “We don’t point to it. It’s literally impossible to ‘illegally download something on BitTorrent’. To pirate stuff, you need more than a protocol. You need search, a pirate content site, and a content manager. We offer none of those things. If you’re using BitTorrent for piracy, you’re doing it wrong.”
This is unlikely to appease the label community, many of who see it as repeatedly smashing the windows of their candy shop. Artists, however, are increasingly drawn to it.
Maybe the involvement of Public Enemy and the Pixies is BitTorrent trying to appeal to Music Fans Of A Certain Age (namely those who were teens in the late-Eighties when both bands were at their creative peak). But both acts have been, in their own way, testing the waters with digital music and a DIY culture.
Public Enemy’s Chuck D has long been a fan of the disruptive power of the web (although the band’s attempt to crowdfund an album on SellaBand in 2009 amounted to naught). Equally, the Pixies have not been shy of experimentation here. On their 2004 reunion tour, they were one of the first acts to partner with DiscLive to sell CDs and downloads of their shows as soon as they walked off stage. Also in 2010, the band played two shows at The Troxy in east London and sold all the tickets direct to fans using the Topspin platform.