While the major record labels are doing everything in their power to fight the illicit distribution of ‘their’ music on BitTorrent sites, several indie labels and artists are choosing a different path.
Last month the punky girl-rock band Sick of Sarah decided to release their latest album ‘2205’ to the public on BitTorrent, at no cost. In order to gain maximum exposure the band partnered with BitTorrent Inc. who helped to promote the free download through an app in the uTorrent BitTorrent client.
A critical record label executive might look at this idea and wonder “But why free?” According to Sick of Sarah’s bassist Jamie Holm, it’s simply a matter of weighing the benefits and costs.
“Releasing an album on BitTorrent is an incredible opportunity. We wanted to reach our fans on the Internet, and our fans use BitTorrent,” Holm said when the partnership was announced last month.
“While album sales will remain a critical element of success, we also believe BitTorrent will help us drive new fans to live concerts and purchase our merchandise,“ Holm added.
A month later, we can certainly conclude that the band has succeeded in their attempt to reach out to a new audience. In just 18 days the free album was downloaded by a million people, and a month after the initial release 1,365,453 BitTorrent users had copied it to their computers.
In addition to the massive number of downloads, Sick of Sarah also set a new BitTorrent record for the largest number of active seeders on a music album ever. Yesterday, the Clearbits tracker which is used for the release reported 82,943 seeders. To our knowledge, there has never been a music torrent with this many people actively seeding.
Even for all torrents ever released it may be close to a record. The largest BitTorrent swarm (seeds + peers) ever witnessed was ‘Heroes.S03E01.HDTV.XviD-0TV’ with a total of 144,663 peers, but it’s unsure how many of these were seeders.
Of course, all of the above would have never been possible without BitTorrent Inc. who bundled the album with the download of their popular BitTorrent clients. Everyone who downloaded the uTorrent or BitTorrent Mainline application during the last month, was automatically downloading the Sick of Sarah album unless they opted out. Needless to say, this, and other P2P promotions such as Frostclick, are the main reason the seeder record was set.
The album promotion was part of the “Artist Pilot” project of BitTorrent Inc. where independent artists can claim BitTorrent fame. As of yesterday Sick of Sarah traded in its spot for the promotion of the release of the independent movie Zenith.
Needless to say, the band is delighted with the million plus downloads, an achievement that went beyond all expectations. “Our success on the BitTorrent platform has been overwhelming,” said Jamie Holm in a response yesterday. “This technology and audience aren’t only the future, they’re here today.”
“We welcome all the new fans and hope our experiments with online distribution and fan engagement open up new doors for other artists,” the happy musician concluded.