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Is BitTorrent the future of the music industry?

Thom Yorke has just released a record that everyone can enjoy and he did it all through BitTorrent, potentially starting a brand new way of music sharing.

Photo courtesy of Sebastian Gabsch/Future Image/

Always a great innovator, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is going to blow the music industry’s mind hole with this one. The singer released his super mysterious sophomore solo record Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes quite unexpectedly and through — wait for it — BitTorrent. Say whaaa?

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A great critic of online music distribution, Yorke is clearly on a search for an alternative method of releasing records without a mediating streaming platform and embedded rules. Basically, he’s looking for artistic freedom on every level. BitTorrent is a familiar platform for most music-downloading enthusiasts and permits an optional “pay gate” to access the files, meaning Yorke can upload a record and set the price by himself, without underhanded fees.

“It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around,” Yorke said in an issued statement. “If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work. Enabling those people who make either music, video or any other kind of digital content to sell it themselves. Bypassing the self-elected gatekeepers. If it works anyone can do this exactly as we have done.”

Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is available for download here, for a mere $6. So, check it out!

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So, is this the future? The music industry has been feverishly resisting music downloads through back-alley type platforms like BitTorrent, because they cannot be supervised. Music fanatics the world over solved that problem quite quickly — upload and distribute records illegally through the “disfavoured” gateways. The music industry is at the mercy of their consumers on this one and the fans want cheaper albums from their favourite artists. One way this can be achieved is to eliminate the middleman. Thom Yorke can release a record himself through the much beloved BitTorrent (without the assistance of the platform) at an affordable price. Boom. A revolution is upon us.

Music downloading is not going anywhere, resisting it will not change anything. The music industry needs to embrace the online sharing networks their consumers are using and cooperate with them. Thom Yorke has the right idea here, but whether it will stick is a different question. What do you think?

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