November 19, 2014
File sharing network BitTorrent is now giving all artists the option to distribute their content in paid content bundles. A paygate-based distribution model is a major departure for the site that is infamous for its pirating. BitTorrent will get a 10 percent cut of the revenue from these paygate premium content bundles, while artists will earn a whopping 90 percent cut. The artists will also get access to valuable data about the consumers who are buying their content on BitTorrent.
Other online companies like Spotify have been criticized for failing to pay artists fairly for their work. Chief content officer for BitTorrent Matt Mason believes that artists should have more control over the value of their work.
“Taylor Swift sparked debate over the state of music in recent weeks; the value of a stream, the value of a record. The value of art shouldn’t be up for debate. It should be up to artists,” he said in TechCrunch. BitTorrent not only offers artists the option of creating a paygate content bundle, but also content bundles that are free or bundles that cost money after a certain number of visits.
BitTorrent also just announced that musician Diplo is the latest artist to collaborate with the company on creating paygate content. His $5 bundle includes his full album and some unreleased content.
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, who has long defended artists’ cries for fair royalties released a $6 “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes” bundle on BitTorrent. The bundle and the free song have been downloaded 4.4 million times, though Yorke has decided not to release sales data.
The expansion of the paygate option to all artists is a positive sign for BitTorrent. Recently, the company has been trying to gain more legitimacy in the entertainment industry by painting itself as a legitimate distributor and giving artists more control. Unlike iTunes, the company does not take up to 40 percent of the sales and does not withhold data on fans.
“To deprive artists of this data is to deprive them of the ability to build a viable business,” said Straith Schreder, director of content strategy for BitTorrent.
To begin using the new paygate system, artists simply have to apply on their BitTorrent account. They have to be aware, though, that by using the paygate option, the artist or publisher will still be responsible for the payment processing fees.