Musician Alex Day made his name on YouTube, and used that as a platform to sell more than 500k paid downloads. Now he’s about to release a new collection of tracks… on BitTorrent.
In Day’s case, he’s releasing 10 tracks tomorrow (12 March) in advance of the 17 March release of his new album (well, “collection of music”, which may be a deliberately-chosen phrase) ‘Epigrams and Interludes’. The stems for the 10 tracks will also be given away on BitTorrent’s SoShare platform for people to remix.
It’s an interesting partnership, for a couple of reasons. First, Day has 664k YouTube subscribers, which is very impressive, but BitTorrent has 170m monthly users, making it potentially a big opportunity for him to break out even beyond his hard-earned fanbase.
Does he need to? Well, it won’t hurt his ability to make money from his music. In December 2012, Day revealed that he was earning around $1 per 1,000 views of his YouTube videos – meaning $2,300 a month at that point, which was 75% of his overall earnings. It makes sense for Day to be trying to reach more fans through other means – and then drive them back to iTunes and YouTube.
Second, though: hands up if at some point, you assumed that the logical next step for Day would be to sign to a label? Traditionally, YouTube fame has been seen as a means to that end: a record deal (see: Justin Bieber). For Day, YouTube has been a stepping stone to self-distribution on iTunes, and now a partnership with BitTorrent.
Resist any clunkingly obvious ‘the labels are dead’ responses to the news: Day isn’t a template for all artists to follow any more than Amanda Palmer is.
But his particular path shows how artists can build careers outside the traditional system, with a lot of graft, a bit of luck and the support of large technology companies (YouTube and BitTorrent in this case) who are eager for case studies proving their value to artists – with or without labels.
For more on Alex Day, read Music Ally’s interview with him from July 2012.