Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Thom Yorke likely made millions from torrenting his new record

Always willing to subvert the standard practices of the music industry, Thom Yorke debuted his new album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, via BitTorrent back in September, the first artist to use the service for a major release. Unlike most of the music you can find on BitTorrent, however, this album was kept behind a paygate, so fans had to shell out $6 to access a bundle containing the eight-song album and a music video, which more than 400,000 people might have done within three days of the album’s release. Now, based on new figures being released by BitTorrent in its 2014 Report, the album was downloaded more than 4.4 million times, with “90 percent of the sales revenue going directly to the artist.” If each one of these individual downloads was a paid download—which might not be the case, because each purchase allowed for multiple downloads—that’s more than $26 million in total sales revenue, meaning Yorke might have made more than $24 million in three months.


According to the BitTorrent report, Yorke’s bundle was the most downloaded on the service in 2014, but it is quick to note that projects from Diplo, Asking Alexandria, and Skrillex are in the works, possibly making good on Yorke’s prediction that using BitTorrent might serve as “an effective way of handing some control of Internet commerce back to people who are creating the work [and] bypassing the self elected gate-keepers.” Considering that iTunes takes a 30-percent cut of the profits, Yorke has clearly made some sort of statement here about the struggling record industry, and it’s easy to imagine him singing, “This is what you get, when you mess with us…” to himself as he deposited a check with a lot of zeroes on it into his bank account.

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