Still from Madonna's "secretprojectrevolution".

From Rebels To Mainstream: Madonna and BitTorrent Join Forces

on Tuesday, Sep. 17th

Madonna has a new, 17-minute short film coming out. While that might have been huge news in, say, 1996 it is little more than a blip in the blogosphere here in 2013.

Except…

Except that it is being released via BitTorrent. Not as a matter of piracy, but as the official distribution system. Madonna has teamed up with BitTorrent and digital mega-publisher VICE to launch the "Art for Freedom" project, which the short film is a part of.

This is the biggest release yet to use BitTorrent's new BitTorrent Bundles system. BitTorrent, for those who are unfamiliar with the service, are all but synonymous with digital piracy. So what is Madonna and VICE doing working with them?

Those who watched Napster, the granduncle of all peer-to-peer file sharing services, go legit will recognize this move.

BitTorrent Bundles is a storefront for BitTorrent-powered digital releases–books, films, audiobooks, etc.–the terms of which are set by the artist who created the content. "Play what you want. Pay what you want," is the motto.

The program has been in alpha for a few months now, and BitTorrent has been recruiting select creatives to populate the storefront. Right now you can find music from artists like Kaskade and L5. The audiobook version of Tim Ferris' "4-Hour Chef" is there as well.

The long term plan here is to create a full-fledged storefront that any creative can use. That's still in the future, but next week BitTorrent plans to make a big step forward for their new platform.

On September 24th, we’ll release the project’s next stage. BitTorrent Bundle for publishers is an Alpha platform that makes direct-to-fan distribution simple. There are 170 million BitTorrent fans. But today, creating a torrent requires a level of technical ability. Our goal is to automate the process for creators – to help artists around the world find and connect with new audiences. Here’s how it works.

The Direct-to-Fan model is the Next Big Thing. BitTorrent has the advantage of being trusted by consumers who love getting content for free. Will those same consumers be willing to ante up some support for the artists whose work they enjoy?

Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)

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