BitTorrent Inc., the San Francisco-based technology and media company behind one of the most popular file-sharing services, has partnered with Madonna to release a 17-minute film. The message, which Madonna says is about art, freedom, and love, may be less interesting than the medium. Madonna's latest project will be packaged as a BitTorrent Bundle, the gated file format that allows artists to ask for email addresses or payment before allowing people to download their content.
The company has successfully partnered with several A-list creators, some from within the established entertainment industry that has fought so hard against the music file sharing in which BitTorrent has its roots. Bestselling author Tim Ferriss released some parts of his book, The 4-Hour Chef, in exchange for joining his email list. The Pixies released a new single and a recording of a 2004 concert, and Public Enemy released a video and 37 sample tracks. Other artists that have released BitTorrent Bundles include the band Linkin Park, the electronic musician Pretty Lights, former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, and the web series Epic Meal Time.
"Each Bundle comes with a key."
"Each BitTorrent Bundle... allows artists to distribute content to 170 million BitTorrent users," BitTorrent says. "And each Bundle comes with a key. The idea is to make each song a storefront; and each file more valuable, each time it's shared."
BitTorrent Inc.'s founder Bram Cohen invented the file-sharing protocol and it owns the largest BitTorrent clients. The company BitTorrent is distinct from the technology of the same name, which is open source and free for anyone to build upon — and is often used to illegally share content. It's because of that negative association that the company is now fighting hard to establish itself as an ally to Hollywood, content owners, and small-time artists. The Bundle is its first major step in that direction, and it seems to be working so far.