Radiohead’s Thom Yorke may have made almost $US24 million from a solo album he released exclusively through torrenting network BitTorrent, according to calculations by the Digital Trends blog.
While BitTorrent is commonly used for pirating music illegally, the website recently launched a program that allows artists to mix paid content with free content.
That’s exactly what Yorke did with his solo album, which offers a bundle of seven songs for $US6, along with another song and a music video for free.
Thanks to the album bundle, called “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes,” Yorke became the most legally downloaded BitTorrent artist in 2014.
BitTorrent’s year-end retrospective says that the album had been downloaded 4.4 million times, which means that total revenue generated by the album could be as high as $US26 million.
BitTorrent doesn’t keep much of that money. In fact, 90% of the revenue goes to the artist, which means Yorke could have made about $US24 million.
But as GigaOm and others have pointed out, it’s not clear exactly how many of those 4.4 million downloads were actually paid. Some users may have only downloaded the free part.
Regardless of how much Yorke actually made through the project, his success provides some evidence that BitTorrent isn’t just a platform for free downloads. Artists have an opportunity to make some real money.