Moby’s innocents Bundle is the Internet’s most downloaded torrent, and other true stories from BitTorrent in 2013.
The value of creative goods has shifted more in the past 365 days than it has in over a century.
We used to define the value of an artwork by its frame. It’s in a museum. It’s validated by critics. It’s priced by a label or a store. It is owned. And so on. And not really, any more. The mainstreaming of Instagram changes the meaning of photography: beauty is interaction. The mainstreaming of Reddit changes the meaning of the news: upvotes equal importance. And the ubiquity of Miley changes the meaning of music: song is self-advertising. We’ve been watching our art objects become social objects. 2013 was the year that it stuck. Content has finally caught up with the Internet: value = virality.
The virality-industrial complex
This creative shift is massive. And so are the implications. Because viral content works differently from static content. Viral content is by definition content in motion. It has to travel. If your storefront, ad model and social strategy isn’t embedded into your file, you’re missing a revenue opportunity.
And viral content is by definition experiential. As The New Inquiry’s Rob Horning notes in a recent essay, the point of virality is participation in the emotion of the story, and participation in its popularity. This requires a different kind of creative good. What you make has to be a call to action: kinetic, visual, detachable. (Queen Bey’s surprise album release back in December is basically the case study for this kind of viral-native record design.)
Bundle up, people
So, how do you create within, and create value from, the viral economy? That’s what we’re working on. Since 2011, we’ve collaborated with artists, inventors, studios, labels, and distributors to build a sustainable publishing platform. And 2013 marked its Alpha release. Last year, we introduced BitTorrent Bundle: a new file format that embeds digital storefronts inside downloads. Each time media is shared, a new revenue opportunity is created.
The first BitTorrent Bundle, created in partnership with Ultra Music, launched in May. It was downloaded 4 million times. In September, we opened up the invite-only Alpha project to select publishers. More than 8 thousand artists have signed on. In 365 days, we’ve added 448 new titles from independent creators, GRAMMY Award winners, Oscar nominees, and New York Times best-sellers. Today, BitTorrent has over 2 million licensed works available.
164,383 BitTorrent Bundles are downloaded around the world, every day.
These projects have been downloaded 60 million times, by fans in over 170 countries around the world. And our little Bundle website has grown over 200% since it launched back in May.
A field guide to the Bundleverse, circa 2013
Moby, and the Internet’s most downloaded music
innocents, Moby’s 11th studio album, started as a collaboration: song-as-storytelling with Mark “Spike” Stent, the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan, Queens of the Stone Age, Cold Specks, Damien Jurado, Skylar Grey, and Inyang Bassey. In October, we opened up the album project to the Internet; making the album’s singles, videos, and stem collection available as a BitTorrent Bundle.
8.9MM people downloaded the Bundle
419K opted in to Moby’s email list
130K went from the Bundle, to the album on iTunes
68K new remixes created as a result of the Bundle
The first BitTorrent bestseller
Tim Ferriss can do anything in four hours or less. Including, apparently, hitting the top of all four major bestseller lists. The author’s latest book, The 4-Hour Chef, was boycotted by major retailers because it was part of Amazon’s publishing imprint. No matter. Starting in December of 2012, we worked with the artist to find a following for the lifehacking manual. Ferriss’s first BitTorrent Bundle campaign, featuring an in-depth, multimedia introduction to the book, was downloaded by 2 million BitTorrent readers. More than 880 thousand of these readers liked the book’s Bundle enough to check out it’s Amazon page. And within days of the BitTorrent Bundle launch, Ferriss went from boycotted to bestseller status. Peer-to-peer publishing, it turns out, is a powerful thing.
From a Bundle download, to a GRAMMY nod
Since 2011, we’ve worked with Pretty Lights and digital marketing agency Fame House to help the artist build a sustainable, independent label and following. BitTorrent downloads helped the artist increase his site traffic by 700%, propelling him to headliner status and critical acclaim. His epic, hypervisual 2013 album, A Color Map of the Sun, was initially promoted as a BitTorrent Bundle, back in April. And in December, the record got a GRAMMY nod. To give back to fans around the world, Pretty Lights made the album’s tracks, remixes, and videos available for free as another BitTorrent Bundle. This one’s been downloaded more than 1.4 million times in the past thirty days.
In December, we collaborated with Drafthouse Films to drive awareness of The Act of Killing, an Oscar-nominated film that documents the fallout of genocide in Indonesia. Our goal was to get as many people as possible to see the film. To ensure that it found a global audience. To surpass censorship, so that the testimony preserved by The Act of Killing could survive. Today, the BitTorrent Bundle has been downloaded by 2.3 million people. We’ve helped The Act of Killing find more than 45 thousand impressions in Indonesia, where the film doesn’t have a distributor.
BitTorrent hip hop fans get a record deal
For over 25 years, Public Enemy has set the political agenda for hip hop. Today, they’re still challenging its status quo. Because there are some things in music we can’t be complacent about. Hip hop belongs to the people. Creativity happens in the streets, not just in the studio. The group’s goal is to give music back. And in June, they collaborated with us on a new way to do direct-to-fan; giving away a new multitrack Bundle, and a shot at a record deal. More than a million people downloaded the Public Enemy Bundle. This January, five BitTorrent remixers will receive an iTunes EP release. BitTorrent isn’t just where albums are distributed, anymore. It’s where they’re born.
A freedom of speech project goes global
BitTorrent was built to support freedom of speech. So over the summer, when we heard about Madonna’s new human rights film and foundation, Art For Freedom, we had to get involved. We distributed the film as a BitTorrent Bundle. Within a week, 1.2 million people in 170 countries around the world downloaded the film. What started as an individual artist’s act of rebellion became a massive social movement. 84 thousand BitTorrent fans were inspired to support the film’s YouTube playlist and contribute to the public art project. Digital high fives to all of you out there who helped make sure that the Internet stayed open to expression in 2013.
A new future for the digital mixtape
It’s been said that the history of hip hop is told by the mixtape. So, then, is its future. Jet Life is a New Orleans hip hop crew who make an insane amount of music. But what’s made them popular is the stuff that falls out of digital mixtape publishing: short films, photography, conversations with fans. In August, we worked with Jet Life to reinvent the mixtape. Our goal was to bring digital cassette culture back to its hypervisual, immersive core. The collective used BitTorrent Bundle to package a documentary, tour art, twelve tracks, and discounts, and distribute them across the web. Four million downloads later, they saw a 500% increase in traffic across their merchandise sites, and a 30% increase in advance ticket sales. This is mixtape 2.0. And it sounds pretty epic.
Bacon once again proven to be the Internet’s most coveted object (after cats)
Shots. Saws. Suitcases full of bacon. The guys from Epic Meal Time have pretty much revolutionized cooking; bringing booze plus breakfast nachos to more than 5 million Youtube subscribers. Could the Internet handle more meat? Fuck yes. We worked with the crew to help feed a global conversation about their show, sharing an exclusive video Bundle directly with BitTorrent fans. Hungry viewers downloaded the Bundle 8.6 million times, contributing to 316K new visits to the Epic Meal Time site. Turns out meat is a tasty, tasty download.
Here’s to 2013. Here’s to 2104, and beyond.
So that’s 2013 in BitTorrent downloads. We listened. We watched. We remixed. We published. We fought for freedom of speech. We fought to remember. We beat YouTube. We hacked charts. We launched TV shows. We did 2am sneak attack releases. We sold out shows. We got schooled. We got recording deals. We built a following. We helped build a music software brand. We digitized bacon. We broke records, and molds. We defied some odds and most of our predictions. Here’s to the year that was.
And here’s to the next 365. This year, we’re introducing Bundle pay gates, social gates, artist analytics tools, and more. Because there is no longer one business model for digital content. There’s a different model for each piece of digital content. We’re building Bundle to work for you, and the way you want to connect with your fans or favorite creators. Want to get involved? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.