Torrents have long been considered the bad guy, or what is essentially direct force against media sales. Despite that, new experiments with authorized or licensed free downloads by marketers is proving otherwise. Musicians, writers and even publishers have teamed up with torrent communities to produce remarkable promotion in exchange for free content. The results show that the technology is useful not only for sharing public domain and self-created content, but also as a means of reaching many thousands of people with free advertising and promotions via digital samples. Because P2P communities using Vuze, Bittorrent, UseNet are already huge, the potential for marketing in exchange for free items is quite simply enormous. With that in mind, here’s a quick look at how torrents are already helping the marketing industry.
Tim Ferris & The Four Hour Chef Bundle
One of the most marked results of this sort of promotion is one used by Tim Ferris shortly before releasing his book, ‘The Four Hour Chef‘, in late 2012. He teamed up with Amazon, as well as BitTorrent to create a downloadable bundle with an excerpt from his book, extra recipes, videos, and unpublished content, as well as interviews with Ferris. The result was more than 600,000 downloads during the two weeks of release, which then catapulted the book into its spot as a #1 best seller via more than 200,000 click through’s from the torrent to the Amazon sale page.
Another area that torrents are now making a splash in is in music promotion. While many major record labels see torrents as harmful to album sales, they are beneficial to ticket sales and full album sales. A number of musicians including the Counting Crows who approved the legal download of tracks, liner notes, and images from their new album as promotion. According to Forbes, the result is that they sold more full copies of the album as well as tickets over the months following the release than they had previously.
This is mainly because statistics show that people downloading free music to experience it are more likely to be interested enough to purchase than someone who has to rely on a single or a music video to make the purchase decision. Plus, statistics show that torrent downloaders are actually 30% more likely to buy music than those who do not download, meaning there is a direct link between owning music and appreciating the artist enough to spend money on them. This is especially important for new marketers to keep in mind with some reports about the music industry slowly dwindling in terms of album sales, and the ready availability of music subscription services like Pandora. The vast majority of people want to know what they’re getting before they buy, especially before they purchase and radio singles just aren’t cutting it anymore.
Another popular mechanism for torrent promotion is with indie artists and smaller labels. Currently there are a number of artists who upload their own music to be available for free as a means of promotion. Other artists work with companies like Vuze who distribute free, licensed music to its users via its ‘Bands Under the Radar’ promotion. This type of promotion does not focus on making these bands money directly, but it does increase overall awareness. People who download music from an indie band that they like are more likely to follow their social accounts, look them up on the Internet and find more music from them and this results in a wider and more loyal fan base, other album sales, or in some cases, ticket and merchandise sales.
While no one is really jumping on the bandwagon and saying, “hey, here’s all of my stuff for free”, that’s not where the market is heading. Instead, the future of torrent promotions will go with single P2P applications or websites, and probably giving away a few singles, extras, or even an EP of scenes or songs that weren’t released in the paid version. The idea of using torrents for promotion is quite literally the same as handing out sample products, which works quite well in other parts of the sales industry. And because torrents and legitimately free stuff are equally popular, there’s no reason for major media companies and music publishers to avoid jumping on the bandwagon. In fact, many companies might soon have to support free media promotion, simply because they might not make sales anywhere. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll be seeing all top bands giving away their music in the near future, it does mean that we can probably expect to see samples torrents with teasers, extras, interviews, and media clips available around the web.