BitTorrent Wants to Become RIAA Certified Music Service

With the exclusive release of Thom Yorke's latest album BitTorrent developed itself into a paid music service. With over half a million downloads thus far the "experiment" has become a great success, and if it's up to BitTorrent the company will become an RIAA-certified music service in the near future.

bittorrent-logoLast Friday Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke released his new solo album via BitTorrent. A few tracks were made available for free, but those who want the full album are charged $6.

The new experiment is part of BitTorrent Inc’s bundles project, which allows artists to easily share their work with fans. While many artists tested the waters before Yorke, he is the first to ask for money directly from consumers.

“If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of Internet commerce back to people who are creating the work. Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves. Bypassing the self elected gate-keepers,” commented Thom Yorke on his decision to join.

Fast forward a few days and the album release has turned out to be a great success. At the time of writing the number of downloads surpassed 500,000, and at the current rate this will have doubled before the end of the week.

These numbers are for both the free sample and the full album, which are both being counted by BitTorrent. Thom Yorke doesn’t want the sales figures to become public but judging from the number of people sharing the torrent this lies well above one hundred thousand.

“When the Bundle is downloaded using one of our clients, it pings back with a torrent added event which is how these are being counted. Thom Yorke has asked that sales figures remain undisclosed, which is his discretion,” BitTorrent spokesman Christian Averill told TorrentFreak.

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Now that BitTorrent Inc. has become a paid music service, a whole new world opens up. Will there soon be a BitTorrent release at the top of the charts for example? We asked BitTorrent whether they are considering becoming an RIAA-certified seller, and the company’s answer was an unequivocal yes.

“Our vision is absolutely that Bundles will count toward all the usual industry accolades and charts. Again, it will be up to the publisher of the specific Bundle. But the numbers certainly merit the recognition,” Averill says.

If that happens, BitTorrent sales will be eligible for RIAA’s gold and platinum awards as well as other charts.

While some music industry insiders may need some time to adjust to the idea of BitTorrent (Inc) as an authorized music service, the RIAA itself doesn’t see any reason why the company can’t apply.

“Music sales … on digital music services that are authorized by and reported to the record labels, whether paid for by the consumer through a subscription or free to the consumer through ad-supported services, are accepted for RIAA certifications,” RIAA’s Liz Kennedy tells TorrentFreak.

Becoming RIAA-certified doesn’t happen overnight though. BitTorrent would first have to request the certification and a full audit is then required to receive an Authorized service stamp and a possible listing on whymusicmatters.com.

“Whymusicmatters.com, a joint initiative of the RIAA and Music Biz, lists the leading authorized music services in the United States,” Kennedy explains.

For BitTorrent this would be a great achievement. The company has had to withstand a fair amount of criticism from copyright holders in recent years, and recognition as an authorized music service will surely silence some of it.

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