BitTorrent has announced its biggest coup yet in its continuing quest to promote its Bundle product (and distance itself from associations with piracy): a partnership with Thom Yorke behind his new solo record, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. The release is the first paid record release via torrent.
The eight-track album costs $6 and is unlockable on the BitTorrent Bundle site. The move echoes Radiohead’s very forward-thinking move in 2007 to a pay-what-you-want release of In Rainbows, except Yorke’s new record comes with a minimum cost of acquisition and the well-established technological backbone of the BitTorrent file transfer protocol.
BitTorrent confirmed to Billboard that the company will receive 10% of the money from Yorke’s sales, 5% less than BandCamp or BandPage and far less than iTunes’ 30% cut.
In a blog post, Thom Yorke and producer/collaborator (on Atoms For Peace) Nigel Godrich wrote: “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… Bypassing the self-elected gatekeepers. If it works anyone can do this exactly as we have done.” While the sentiment is admirable, Yorke’s international celebrity would seem to make this a special case, and has generally driven previous successes with the Bundle product. Previous notable BitTorrent Bundle releases have come from Madonna (her documentary secretprojectrevolution), Death Grips (with The Money Store) and Moby (with Innocents).