Do Legal Torrents Really Help?

No Comments 9 October 2012

Do Legal Torrents Really Help?

Last week, Billboard posted an article that cited BitTorrent‘s claim of facilitating 125 million legal downloads in the first half 2012. This is something that makes me happy, the idea of musicians giving away their music for free, giving listeners a way to sample their music and turn them into fans, is the basis of any smart strategy in today’s music business.

One of the most shocking statistics was the group Death Grips have received 34,151,432 downloads in the first half of 2012, making them the most downloaded musician in the world of legal Torrents. A shocking figure considering Michael Jackson’s Thriller has sold 29 million records (according to Wikipedia). While this number seems astounding, the numbers don’t add up a sizable fanbase the way the should.

One of the things to remember about Torrent download statistics is that just because someone downloaded a Torrent doesn’t mean they ever listened to it. Even if they did listen to it, they may have not liked the record and become a fan of the group. The nature of music discovery through Torrents is you need to download the music to decide whether you like it. With all of that in mind, 34 million downloads is still a humongous number for any musician.

The most curious statistic to me is that Death Grips had a HUGE week of publicity last week and with these 34 million downloads they still boast the rather small social media statistics of 45,000 Likes on Facebook, 20,000 followers on Twitter and 8,000 followers on SoundCloud. My first hypothesis is that perhaps the tracking of how many times Death Grips was downloaded on BitTorrent may have not been tracked right, I tend to not trust any metrics of Torrenting since every time a statistic is published, a new one comes out contradicting the last. Even if fans that downloaded the group didn’t listen or like their music this means that only .1% of them decided to Like them on Facebook. This leads me to deduct that giving your music away on BitTorrent is a terrible way to stay in touch with fans. It shows that even if they hear your music, they are not staying in touch with you.

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