2014 was bookended by two records, mirrored conversations about the value of digital art as human experience. One challenged the idea of how music should be created. Onechallenged the idea of how music should be distributed. Both were released in collaboration with fans. It’s not surprising that Beyonce and Taylor Swift produced 2014’s bestselling albums. This year, the most-searched word was “culture”. We are looking for common ground. Every conversation about music and film is also a conversation about belonging.
Last year, we opened BitTorrent Bundle, our direct-to-fan publishing platform, to all artists. Today, more than 20,000 creators use Bundle to connect with over 170 million passionate listeners and viewers around the world. This year alone, 1,543 new projects been added to BitTorrent Bundle. Some come from Oscar-nominated filmmakers. Some come from Billboard Top 200 artists. Most come from outsiders, inventors, and independent creators who see digital storytelling as something to be evolved, ok, but never resolved.
These stories — these connections — are core to the culture of creativity.
And when they belong to artists and fans, the culture becomes sustainable. This year, more than 6.5 million fans engaged with paygated Bundles. 89% of fans come back to check on projects each month. What does a year in Bundle look like? Here are our records.
A field guide to BitTorrent Bundle, circa 2014.
Keep Bundle (61%) weird.
BitTorrent Bundle is a community of over 170 million fans from 120 countries around the globe. We’re one of the world’s largest collectives of fans. Bundle users are 170% more likely than average Internet users to buy digital music downloads. On average, our global fan base spends $48 a year on music, and $54 on movies. We’re also united by our love for the unapologetically offbeat. 61% of Bundle fans describe their taste in music and film as unconventional. This is where weird and creative thrives.
The last record store.
In September, Thom Yorke released his first solo album in eight years. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes was 8 tracks of haunting, spare, electric sound. It was also a blueprint for how the Internet should work. For artists. For fans. For good. The album was released direct to fans as the first paygated Bundle project.
“If it works,” Thom wrote, “anyone can do exactly as we’ve done.” Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes was downloaded more than 4.4 million times, with 90% of sales revenue going directly to the artist. Today, Bundle paygates are open to all artists. Current paygate projects include work by Diplo, Asking Alexandria, Skrillex, and more.
Stories without borders.
BitTorrent Bundle began as a way to build something that we felt the Internet was missing: records. The experience of opening and unpacking music, words, and art. The way it brought you closer to bands. The way it brought you closer to the people around you. We work in peer-to-peer; formats built for big data sets, and big stories. We wanted to apply that same technology to digital publishing; giving artists and fans a way to connect directly over creative goods.
Bundle has become a place for the Internet’s big, messy, multimedia stories. The average size of a Bundle is 734MB. More than 12 million digital box sets from artists likeG-Eazy, De La Soul, and Ryan Hemsworth, have been downloaded. 2.5 million label compilations from collectives like OWSLA, Mad Decent, and Fool’s Gold have been delivered. Right now, more 5 million transmedia projects from creators like Cut/Copy,Phuture Doom, and Beats Antique are unfolding in the hands of fans. There are ideas in music, film, and art that can’t be compressed. These ideas have a home here.
Rethink and remix everything.
In November, Azealia Banks dropped Broke With Expensive Taste. The album was three years in the making. It was released on her terms: a brave, sprawling, and genre-skipping record that breaks down the divisions between sounds and scenes. And it belongs to fans. Banks used BitTorrent Bundle to open source the lead single, “Chasing Time”. The stems were downloaded by 1.3 million fans. To date, more than 1,500 people have submitted their takes on the track, with a winning remix to be announced in January.
That’s the power of music, in the hands of fans. From Azealia Banks to Zeds Dead, more than 11 million total remix projects have been downloaded on BitTorrent Bundle.
Change comes from here.
In 2014, more than 10 million fans tuned into social justice and advocacy documentaries on BitTorrent Bundle.
The Act of Killing beat censorship to reach 4.5 million fans around the world, including Indonesia, where the film was banned. The Crash Reel was downloaded by 3.4 million viewers in the weeks leading up to Sochi, driving mass awareness of the human cost of extreme sports. The Internet’s Own Boy reminded us of what’s at stake online. And reminded us to keep fighting.
Here’s to the last 365, and the next.
2014 in BitTorrent was records. It was a lens on the world around us. It was captured sound. It was a video you can print out. It was a call to action. It was Young, and maybe Sick. It was an experiment. It was 6.5 million albums. It was a life’s work. It is only the beginning. Thanks to the artists and fans who’ve become part of Bundle; who’ve inspired and challenged us to build a better way for the Internet work. Got ideas for Bundle? Start your project today.