Thom Yorke made as much as $20M from his BitTorrent experiment

As part of its mission to convince the music industry that it isn’t just for copyright infringers, BitTorrent launched a new product in 2013 called “Bundles,” which allow musicians and other artists to combine free downloads with paid products. One of the most high-profile figures to experiment with this feature last year was Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, who used it for his new album — and not only did he become the most legally-downloaded BitTorrent artist in 2014, but he may have made as much as $20 million.

What makes those kinds of numbers even more impressive is that Yorke didn’t launch his album bundle, called Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, until the end of September. By October — according to a comment on Twitter from an editor with Billboard magazine — the bundle had already been downloaded over 4 million times, and a year-end retrospective from BitTorrent says that the total number of downloads was 4.4 million.

When he released the album, Yorke said in a statement that he hoped the bundle would become an alternative to traditional music releases for more artists, saying it could prove to be “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.”

Thom Yorke BitTorrent bundle

The paid portion of the bundle, which included seven songs, cost $6 to download — meaning the total amount of revenue generated by the project could be as high as $26 million. Since BitTorrent gives 90 percent of the income from its bundles to the artist, that means Yorke could have made almost $24 million from the album. That’s far more than he likely would have made releasing it using almost any other traditional method.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple, as a number of music-industry watchers have pointed out: the $26-million revenue figure assumes that everyone who downloaded the bundle paid for it. But bundles also include free downloads — in Yorke’s case, a song and a video. And BitTorrent allows the artist to decide whether to release the exact breakdown of free vs. paid, something that Yorke has chosen not to do, according to BitTorrent’s head of content strategy Straith Schreder.

Whatever the actual breakdown of paid vs. free is, however, more than 4 million downloads is still a big number, and if even half of those who downloaded it paid $6 for the bundle then Yorke still made a substantial amount of revenue with very little overhead. It certainly makes BitTorrent’s bundle program look pretty good compared with other distribution methods such as iTunes, which takes a 30-percent cut of the proceeds.

Update: Glenn Peoples of Billboard magazine estimates that Yorke probably made between $1 million and $6 million on his album, based on the likely number of people who paid for it rather than just getting the free track. The low number is based on the proportion of users who pay for Pandora.

Bundle Proves That Big Data Apps Aren’t Easy

Bundle uses the billions of Citi customer transactions to draw correlations between spending habits and what other people might enjoy or buy. CTO Phil Kim explains that wrangling even highly structured data takes a lot of organizing, a lot of computing and a lot of time.

Deals: MacGraPhoto 2 Mac App Bundle

Last year, MacGraPhoto offered seven Mac graphics app for cheap. This year, MacGraPhoto 2 is offering nine apps for the price of one. It may be one of the last times bundles like this appear, with the imminent arrival of the Mac App Store.

Citi and MSN’s Bundle Visualizes Personal Spending launched this week a data visualization site for personal spending. The company, founded last June with funding from strategic investors Citigroup, Microsoft and Morningstar, helps users understand how they match up to others in their demographics and locations with regards to monthly household expenditures.

MacUpdate Winter Bundle: $450 Worth of Mac Apps for $50

If you’re looking for a gift to buy yourself this holiday season (or someone else, I suppose, though I never find that people much like software gifts), the MacUpdate Holiday Bundle has just arrived and is well worth considering. Like MacHeist and many other software bundles, MacUpdate’s offers a heaping helping of software at a bargain basement price.

The bundle includes 11 quality Mac apps, including both utilities and games, and if you’re lucky enough to be one of the first 10,000 buyers, you also get three additional pieces of software at no extra charge (around 1,200 had been sold at the time of this writing). Best of all, if you’re unsure about any of the apps included, you can download a preview package that includes trial versions of each. Read More about MacUpdate Winter Bundle: $450 Worth of Mac Apps for $50

MacGraPhoto Bundle: Grab 7 Graphics Apps for Cheap

It can’t beat the recent free Mac Heist giveaway (what could?), but a new Mac software bundle does offer a lot of good applications for a steeply discounted price. The somewhat awkwardly named MacGraPhoto bundle provides seven graphics applications for the same amount that one alone would normally set you back, $39.99.

The seven apps are all new to me, but they seem to have garnered favorable reviews and even some official accolades from Apple (s aapl) itself. They also cover quite a range, meaning that no two really duplicate the functions or features of the others. Here’s a brief rundown of the apps you get in the bundle. Read More about MacGraPhoto Bundle: Grab 7 Graphics Apps for Cheap

Michael Jackson’s Posthumous Album Is Coming to iTunes


A storm sprang up this week around reports that, due to disagreements between Apple (s aapl) and Sony BMG (s sne), the upcoming Michael Jackson album “This Is It” — a tie-in to the movie of the same name and bound to be a sales success — would not be available on iTunes, the world’s biggest digital music provider.

When Michael Jackson tragically died in late June, sales of his music on iTunes sky-rocketed. A day after he died, eight of the 10 top-selling albums were from Michael Jackson. Eight of the 10 top-selling music videos, too. Five of the 10 top-selling singles were also from Jackson. It was a trend that would continue for weeks. With interest in (and thirst for) Michael Jackson music and video at an all-time high, online music vendors have a vested interest in the new album.

So it came as something of a surprise when, two days ago, news broke that iTunes was to be denied the chance to sell the upcoming album. Paul Reskinoff reported that, according to confidential information leaked to Digital Music News, Sony BMG and the Jackson Estate were insisting downloads could only occur within the constraints of a bundled, full album. So, if a customer wanted just one song from “This Is It,” they’d be forced to buy and download the entire album to get it. Apple’s policy, on the other hand, is well established in these matters; it insists on making individual tracks available for purchase and download. Hence the current standoff. Read More about Michael Jackson’s Posthumous Album Is Coming to iTunes

MacHeist 3 Bundle Announced


Today, MacHeist announced the contents of their latest application bundle, providing the opportunity to purchase software to the value of $558 for the bargain price of $39. A huge range of applications are included, ranging from eBay (s EBAY) companions to professional 3-D animation tools.

Over the past few months, various ‘missions’ have given regular readers the chance to gain additional discounts on the bundle and gather free licenses for various applications. The final bundle will be on sale for two weeks, with 25 percent of all money paid being donated to a charity of your choice. This analysis will take a brief look at each application on offer to see just how far your $39 can go. Read More about MacHeist 3 Bundle Announced

5 Fingers Bundle Turns 5 Apps in to One for the App Store


For the first time in the App Store (at least as far as games are concerned) competing developers are joining forces to release their wares as one in the 5 Fingers Bundle ($5 in the App Store). Similar in concept to MacUpdate, these five developers are offering their great games as one, for almost a 60 percent savings.

As many of us have experienced before, bundles usually have a shining star or two while the rest just ride the coattails. So what do you get with the 5 Fingers Bundle?

  • Chopper – Was a No. 1 game for a while.
  • BurnBall – I’ve become addicted to playing this game.
  • Up There – A beautifully designed game, featured by Apple.
  • Blackbeard’s Assault – A classic Zuma-style game with incredible graphics.
  • Sneezies – A bubble-popping game which seems to have a great following.

Read More about 5 Fingers Bundle Turns 5 Apps in to One for the App Store