BitTorrent technology may be forever be a byword for online piracy in many quarters of the creative industries, but BitTorrent the company would rather be seen as a powerful legal tool for digital marketing.
This week, it has announced a milestone for its BitTorrent bundle initiative, which helps musicians, filmmakers and other creators distribute some of their work for free, often in exchange for email addresses to add to their promotional mailing lists.
BitTorrent says that its bundles, including those by artists including Madonna, Public Enemy, Moby, De La Soul and Diplo, have now reached 100m downloads and streams to fans.
"Today, 24 hours in BitTorrent Bundle equals over 554k impressions, 167k downloads, and more than 16k streams," wrote BitTorrent's chief creative officer Matt Mason in a blog post.
"Monthly Bundle site visitors have increased from 2.1 million, to 25 million (+1,095%). 25% of visitors share the content with their network across some social channel. And fans are coming back, over and over again. 75% of Bundles site traffic is coming from returning users."
What those bundles are actually giving away varies. Madonna didn't give away music, but rather a documentary film called Secretprojectrevolution. Moby gave away three songs and audio "stems" from his latest album, so fans could create their own remixes.
Public Enemy also went down the remixable stems route; De La Soul gave away a digital mixtape and documentary film about pioneering hip-hop producer J Dilla; and Cut/Copy distributed a music video along with the 3D printing files for making the video's characters.
BitTorrent has always argued that its filesharing technology is neutral, so the company shouldn't be blamed for online piracy. At a time when music and film rightsholders are continuing to pursue torrent-tracker websites, it's not a view shared by some executives within those industries.
BitTorrent is using its 100m milestone to try to persuade more artists that it's a friend not a foe. "We’re idealists here. But we believe in technology as a form of connection; not control. That analog business models shouldn’t be a barrier to culture kept in common. That bandwidth should never be a barrier to creativity," wrote Mason.
"In the days after Net Neutrality, those sound like radical statements. The fact of the matter is that they’re not. Decentralized technologies like BitTorrent can unblock the connection between artists and fans; stripping away the need to censor or sizecap creativity."