Where Creativity Thrives: BitTorrent 2014 User Study

BitTorrent users are 170% more likely to buy music versus average Internet users.

Last year, we launched an alpha project called BitTorrent Bundle. Our goal was to build a sustainable ecosystem for the Internet’s creative projects. A place where published stories could be big, messy, and multimedia. A place where artists and fans could connect directly. A place where you’d be free to wander the stacks, or dig through the crates. Call it the last record store. Music, film, and art has meaning here.

bittorrent user study, music and film purchase frequency

In September, we interviewed 2,500 BitTorrent users; asking them about content, creativity, and the role of music and film in their daily lives. We listened. And we learned that our universe of fans experiences art differently: outside of genre, in the spirit of adventure; as an experience, and as an investment.

Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve seen streaming positioned as both an inevitability, and an enemy. We’ve heard that we should give up on selling records, if we’re not Taylor Swift. We’ve heard that if it’s not free on demand, then it won’t be heard. Our users, representing a broad, global youth audience, tell us otherwise. 50% of them buy music each month. 52% of them buy films monthly. They buy more digital albums than they do digital singles. They seek out shows and theaters. Streaming may be inevitable. But what we’re seeing from fans is a desire for substance: for more, and more meaningful, ways to connect to their favorite artists.

bittorrent users versus average internet users

Where fans live

BitTorrent users are connected by, and through, their investment in creators. They’re 8X more likely to own a paid music streaming account, compared to average Internet users (RIAA). They’re 170% more likely to have paid for a digital music download in the past six months (Ipsos MediaCT). For our users, being part of the community means paying for it, too.

On average, our global user base spends $48 a year on music, and $54 on movies. 31% spend more than $100 on music annually. 35% spend more than $100 on films. Each year, 11% of BitTorrent fans participate in crowd-funding campaigns.

The post-genre generation

In 2011, Eli Pariser coined the term “filter bubble”; a way of describing our relationship to the web. For all of the Internet’s awesome and endless sprawl, at the end of the day, it’s only a mirror. Algorithms surround us only with the people we like, and the content we agree with. If you like this hip hop artist, you’ll like that one. If you liked the original movie, you’ll like the sequel. Taste becomes something you can count on and categorize.

bittorrent user music consumption

Not here. The majority of BitTorrent users describe themselves as adventurous listeners and viewers. Among this group, challenge and diversity drive engagement. The artists they follow are the ones that “break with convention”. Joshua Oppenheimer’s controversial, Oscar-nominated documentary Bundle for The Act of Killing was downloaded 4.5 million times, as was Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. Hundred Waters found 1.4 million fans across two projects. Stones Throw Records reached an audience of 634 thousand via BitTorrent Bundle. 61% of our fans define their favorite music and films as “eclectic”; as micro-genre, alternative, or underground.

bittorrent user film consumption

Live through this

The spirit of adventure takes them offline, too. Among BitTorrent users, music and film is something to be felt. 60% buy or rent DVDs. 45% buy CDs. 15% buy band merchandise. And they’re more than just consumers of creative culture. They’re participants. 47% see films in theaters each year. 26% go to live shows. 15% buy merchandise. Bundle users view art as experience; tactile and social.

bittorrent user film consumption

In a world where everything’s become about the single, storytelling thrives here. Our users buy more digital albums than they do one-off tracks. Nearly 11% buy vinyl; engaging and unpacking art as a multimedia object. Artists including Moby, Zeds Dead, and Cut/Copy have used BitTorrent Bundle to distribute song and video stems. To date, we’ve seen users create over 500 new pieces of remixed content. Art projects become infinite here. They’re endlessly reshaped and redefined by our viewers.

bittorrent user music consumption

BitTorrent is where fans come from: a place where valuable, sustainable connections are made. A place where creativity is something we keep in common. This is the last record store. It’s always open, and anyone can stop by.

About BitTorrent Bundle

BitTorrent Bundle is a publishing project made with and for the world’s creative community. Our mission is to help artists connect directly with fans, inside the content they share. Each BitTorrent Bundle allows artists to distribute content directly to the Internet. And each Bundle comes with a key.

Fans can unlock artist content with an email address, or a direct payment to the artist. The idea is to make each song a storefront, and each file more valuable, every time it’s shared. Got ideas for the next BitTorrent Bundle? Hit us up.

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