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Published on January 4th, 2015 | by Alan Cross

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Thom Yorke Made $20 Million from His BitTorrent Experiment. Wait–That Can’t Be Right… [UPDATE: Yeah, I Thought So]

You may have heard about Thom Yorke released his second solo album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, on BitTorrent, asking for $6 USD. It was a massive success, making him the most legally-downloaded artist on BitTorrent in 2014.

How many paid downloads did the album get?  According to BitTorrent, 4.4 million times since September. Doing the math, that’s $26.4 million–and since the deal is that Thom got to keep 90% of it, that means he grossed $23.76 million.

Really? Well, maybe.  These are potential numbers.  A site called iTech explains:

The final sales total for the album may never be known due to how Bundles operate. BitTorrent Bundles, such as Thom Yorke’s Tommorrow’s Modern Boxes offer free downloads for some of the same content they have on sale. The artist chooses if the public gets to know how many downloads translated into money. Thom Yorke decided to not release sales data for his album, according to Straith Schreder, director of content strategy for BitTorrent speaking with TechCrunch back in November. The number of downloads Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes accumulated is also up for debate. Billboard Senior Analyst Glenn Peoples tweeted out the same 4.4 million download figures back in October.

Still, this experiment should give other major artists pause.  If this numbers are even close to being accurate, why wouldn’t you use BitTorrent to distribute your music?

UPDATE:  Billboard says that Thom probably didn’t make that kind of coin. But even if the above figures were off by 90%, he still made well over $2 million. Not bad, huh?




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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3 Responses to Thom Yorke Made $20 Million from His BitTorrent Experiment. Wait–That Can’t Be Right… [UPDATE: Yeah, I Thought So]

  1. Well, one thing to note is that any purchaser essentially purchased a small torrent file, which when opened with a torrent client allowed the purchaser to download the album.
    The torrent file, however, could easily be used several times to download the album. So every purchaser could in theory give away the torrent file to anybody else who could then download the album as well.
    How many downloads were actually purchased?

  2. Pingback: Proof BitTorrent Is The Future Of How Musicians Sell Records

  3. Pingback: A Journal of Musical ThingsRandom Music News for Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - A Journal of Musical Things

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