BitTorrent is getting ready to open up its artist publishing platform, dubbed BitTorrent Bundles, to everyone, and it has teamed up with DIY services provider Topspin as well as Los Angeles-based web video production company the Collective, Fader magazine and digital distribution specialist Cinedigm for the launch of the Bundles closed alpha.
BitTorrent has for some time tried to make the point that its software can actually benefit artists, as opposed to just being used for copyright infringement. To that effect, the company has been teaming up with artists like DJ Shadow, Madonna and others to distribute free content through its P2P software that users can unlock after signing up with their email address, downloading additional software or through other tasks.
That kind of approach seems to have worked pretty well: BitTorrent said in a blog post Tuesday that its bundles have been downloaded by 18 million people, and helped publishers to collect more than 600,000 email addresses.
Bundles have so far been limited to select partnerships, but BitTorrent now seems intent on turning them into a self-serve publishing platform. Starting Tuesday, publishers can sign up for a closed alpha that, once approved, gives them the ability to trade free content against email addresses. A BitTorrent spokesperson told me Tuesday that other ways to unlock content, including possibly payments, will be added in the future.
It’s possible that BitTorrent may decide to charge fees if it ends up generating real revenue for artists. The company’s spokesperson told me Tuesday that “there are a lot of ideas on the table” to turn this into a profitable business for BitTorrent, but that the initial focus is simply on building out tools for content creators and rights holders.
BitTorrent bundles are definitely an interesting step for the company, but it remains to be seen whether they are going to offer publishers — especially the ones with less name recognition — any more benefits that a purely web-based campaign.