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'90s Band Using BitTorrent to Give Away Songs

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At the end of last month, in what at least purports to be a major blow against file sharing, Britain’s high court ordered the country’s major ISPs to block The Pirate Bay, a prominent and forward thinking -- a recent article in the New Yorker reports that the site plans to move its servers onto unmanned drones -- torrent tracking website. Of course, the ruling can’t compete, impact wise, with January’s takedown of Megaupload.

Still, it’s difficult to feel much else besides a sense of déjà vu in the face of these actions. After all, the RIAA sued Napster into submission in 1999 and that only served to get Sean Parker a few billion dollars and the opportunity to be played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network.

Regardless of the effectiveness of taking down individual file sharing sites, the government, along with the RIAA and MPAA, shows no signs of calling off actions against online pirates. Individual artists, however, may have a different opinion.

Website reports that relevent-in-'93 rock band The Counting Crows are giving away several songs off their new album on BitTorrent. Yesterday, the band released a four song promotional bundle available to anyone with an Internet connection.

In an interview with the website, lead singer Adam Duritz compares online file sharing, and BitTorrent in particular, to radio and claims that he has been in favor giving away music for a long time. For the band, the free songs are a way to get free publicity and to, hopefully, lure new customers into buying the full album or attending one of the band’s concerts.

It should be pointed out that bands, even major bands, giving away music online did not originate with the Counting Crows. Perhaps the most famous example is Radiohead’s 2007 decision to eschew the record label and iTunes (AAPL) model of music sales in favor of a “pay what you think is fair” model.

As far as that goes, the Pirate Bay’s “Promo Bay” feature takes filesharing’s ability to promote artists and uses it for the benefit of independent, and up-and-coming artists. Anyone can submit links to a band or other art project’s website to the Swedish pirates, and the best ideas receive a few days of free promotion on the front page of their site.

Everything else aside, it is nice to see a band from the days of Blossom catching up with the present day music industry. If only record labels could find a good way to follow suit.
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