bittorent-bundles

Just over a year ago, BitTorrent launched the alpha of its ‘Bundles’ initiative, getting artists and other creators to create packages of files for fans to download (and latterly stream) for free, often in return for an email address.

De La Soul, Moby, Public Enemy, Amanda Palmer and Death Grips are among the musicians to have worked with BitTorrent, which announced yesterday that in that first 12-and-a-bit months, it has delivered 100m Bundles to fans as downloads and streams.

“Today, 24 hours in BitTorrent Bundle equals over 554K impressions, 167K downloads, and more than 16K streams,” reported chief content officer Matt Mason in a blog post.

“Monthly Bundle site visitors have increased from 2.1 million, to 25 million (+1,095%). 25% of visitors share the content with their network across some social channel. And fans are coming back, over and over again. 75% of Bundles site traffic is coming from returning users… More than 10% of all Bundles are now streamed.”

Mason is an author as well as a BitTorrent executive, with a neat line in sloganeering – ”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” and so on – but the 100m milestone is a good moment to think about where BitTorrent Bundles go next, having already emerged from alpha to become more of a self-service platform for interested creators.

There has certainly been variety so far, from films, videos and remix packages through to Cut/Copy’s 3D-printed video – the files for that have been downloaded more than 2.6m times apparently.

The Bundles haven’t quite been adopted in large numbers by label marketing teams yet, but rather more by individual artists – often those sitting outside the label system, or at least with the clout to run their own digital distribution experiments.

But the most appealing thing about Bundles may also be the most prosaic feature: their status as potentially-big funnels for mailing lists. And in 2014, as in previous years, a mailing list remains one of the most potent marketing tools for any musician. The fact that Bundles can work with content that would be free anyway – videos, backstage footage, remixes etc – may be less revolutionary than the rhetoric, but thus also less intimidating for creators seeking new fans.