An Overview of BitTorrent’s Technology and How It Can Drive Business Goals
The National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP) recently hosted a seminar centered on Fame House’s massively successful partnership between BitTorrent and Pretty Lights. Speakers included BitTorrent’s Executive Director of Marketing, Matt Mason, and our very own Hisham Dahud. The purpose of the seminar was to provide NARIP members with insights on how we at Fame House leveraged BitTorrent’s technology and massive worldwide user base to create a campaign that expanded Pretty Lights’ online presence wide enough that it translated into a tangible revenue gain.
To understand how the campaign worked, it’s important to possess some background on BitTorrent and its technology. When most people think of BitTorrent (and its sister software brand uTorrent), “online piracy” usually comes to mind. BitTorrent, at its core, is really just a technology. It is a software program that allows users to send very large files over the internet. Basically, BitTorrent works by pulling apart large files, sending the smaller pieces over the network, and then puts them back together again. The company’s primary philosophy is to create products that help keep the internet open and innovative. It is not about piracy. Individual users sometimes use their technology for illegal file sharing – a practice not condoned by BitTorrent. BitTorrent is committed to helping other businesses make and implement new business models. The BitTorrent protocol is used by companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia to move files and send push notifications to its millions of users worldwide.
Here are some statistics on BitTorrent that made them the ideal protocol for distributing music in the Pretty Lights Campaign:
- BitTorrent is one of the most downloaded software in history
- It is responsible for 20-60% of all internet traffic
- BitTorrent boasts 160 million active monthly users
- BitTorrent is bigger than Hulu and Netflix combined
- BitTorrent moves more internet traffic than every website on the planet combined
Essentially, these statistics show that BitTorrent has never been more relevant to internet users because they can move so much information to large amounts of people in a short amount of time. Additionally, BitTorrent users tend to be tech savvy lovers of content who spend more money on movies, music, and media than the average person. Although this seems counter-intuitive, research has shown that BitTorrent users are more willing to seek out and pay for content than non-users. In terms of music marketing, BitTorrent is currently experimenting with finding the right business models for individual artists, with each new campaign tailored to a specific artist’s needs and fan base.
At Fame House, we wanted to create a distribution campaign for Pretty Lights that would reach people on a mass scale. Pretty Lights has been able to build a small yet significantly mobilized fan following through free (high-quality) music distribution and extensive touring. His primary sources of revenue are from his touring and merchandising, and not from music sales. Fame House’s goals for this campaign were to expand his online presence to an international market. In turn, this would translate to touring possibilities overseas, a market which had not yet been reached for the artist. With no label and no one to answer to, a Pretty Lights/BitTorrent free music campaign was a plausible solution to achieve this goal. By breaking down barriers to access the music and featuring it on the BitTorrent homepage, the three EP and video release took it to the number one spot on The Pirate Bay’s overall downloads for over three months – an astonishing feat for a music release. A full case study on the results of the Pretty Lights X BitTorrent campaign can be seen here.
Some skeptics continue to have an issue with the strategy of giving away music for free, in that they believe it is not a good way to monetize their art. They fail to realize, however, that the value isn’t in the music itself, but in the awareness and interactions gained from it, which can then be leveraged and monetized. The economy we live in now is very much an “attention economy,” and the rapid growth of information in the Internet age has caused a scarcity of attention. We are overwhelmed with choice and far too many people now have a voice in the marketplace. The public is now very selective and there is value in people’s attention alone. In the new attention economy, consumers agree to receive services in exchange for their attention. Monetization can come down the road and there is a focus on retention and conversion.
Pretty Lights was able to offer a product of value (the free bundle) in exchange for his audience’s attention. In this economy, the goal is long-term relevance. Personalization is also key, and the more information you have on your audience the better your results will be. Creativity matters more than ever before, and there is a greater need in the attention economy for creative marketing projects. The partnership with BitTorrent was a creative approach to marketing, as BitTorrent was great at leveraging their mass audience and reach. As a marketing tool, BitTorrent is fantastic at increasing and creating possibility, an end goal of marketing in the attention economy.
-Valeria Bornstien, Marketing