Alex Pham's Digital Notes: Madonna Leverages BitTorrent, Linkin Park Streams on Xbox, Brian Frank Exits Beats Music

Madonna Leverages BitTorrent
The queen of pop is the latest established artist to use BitTorrent. In Madonna's case, she will be releasing a free BitTorrent Bundle containing a 17-minute film entitled "secretprohectrevolution" that she co-directed with Steve Klein. 

The film, announced Tuesday, is designed to launch Art For Freedom, an online online public art project that will solicit users to upload videos, music, photos and even poetry that demonstrates "creative expression to help fight oppression, intolerance and complacency." Submissions are to be submitted by VICE, a youth-oriented media company that also publishes Noisey. "My goal is to show by the example of secretprojectrevolution my creative commitment to inspire change in the world through artistic expression," Madonna said in a statement of her lofty project.

To see what she means, you can download the free film, and additional bonus content, from BitTorrent's Bundle Page on Sept. 24.

Brian Frank Exits Beats, Enters Warner Bros. Records
Brian Frank has left Beats Music to join Warner Bros. Records as its its new senior VP of marketing and strategy, the record company announced Tuesday.

Frank's move to Warner comes just a couple of months before Beats Music is expected to launch its on-demand streaming service, which Frank had spent almost two years working on as its global head of content with Beats founder Jimmy Iovine. Beats has said little about the service, aside from comments Iovine made in February about plans to share customer data with artists. The service reportedly will have a plethora of playlists and professionally programmed music alongside traditional on-demand features. Some who have seen early test versions of the service have told Billboard that the mobile product has a gamified feel that makes exploring the service relatiively fun and engaging.

Beats announced it will introduce its subscription music service "this year" and has been on a hiring spree to gear up for the launch. Most recently, the Santa Monica, Calif., company in August appointed Julie Pilat from Clear Channel Communications as head of curation. A source close to the company said Frank left Beats on "very good terms." Beats declined to comment about Frank's depature. 

Cameron Strang, Warner Bros.' Chairman, called Frank, a graduate of Columbia Business School, "an enormous asset in harnessing new technologies to create meaningful creative and commercial opportunities on our artists’ behalf."

Linkin Park Hearts Xbox
Mike Shinoda, a self-confessed "Halo" addict and member of Linkin Park, announced in a blog post on Monday the release of the band's single, "A Light That Never Comes," as an exclusive stream on Xbox Music. That the on-demand music service that happens to be available on the same device on which he's spent countless hours on a game snuffing out hostile aliens as a space marine is more than a happy coincidence.

"The catalyst in this relationship was gaming," Shinoda said in his post, describing how he'd played "Halo" on an Xbox console in the tour bus with other bands and fans.

Microsoft, which over the years has scored mixed results with its efforts in music, has had far better success with games -- so much so that the Redmond, Wash., technology company decided to rebrand its other entertainment efforts Xbox, after the well recognized name of its game consoles. Could games be the key to unlocking additional partnerships with artists? 

Giggem: A LinkedIn for Music?
Giggem is a tiny social network with very big aspirations -- it wants to be the LinkedIn of the music industry. Since its launch in June, the start-up has garnered 10,000 members, mostly musicians, bands, managers, songwriters and independent labels. This week, Giggem added venue and promoter profiles to beef up its network.

The idea is very similar to that of Labbler, which launched earlier last year and has a very similar user interface. Both have circular dials displaying professional categories, albeit named slightly differently. Giggem has a "musician" category, Labbler has an "artist" category. And both are independently vying to become the social network for an industry that has traditionally been based on relationships built in the physical world from face-to-face interactions.

It's too early to tell whether Giggem or Labbler can succeed, given the dominance of LinkedIn and the challenges of the business model for social networks, which relies on scale on the order of hundreds of millions of users in an ad-driven model, to thrive.


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