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Thom Yorke potentially made over $20 million legally on BitTorrent in 2014

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Torrents have grown up and are now making money for artists. File sharing company BitTorrent has announced in a blog post Thom Yorke’s Tommorrow’s Modern Boxes was downloaded over 4.4 million times since its September release.

The album was released as a $6 BitTorrent Bundle, a digital package of content sold by an artist who retains 90 percent of the profits. Tommorrow’s Modern Boxes’ 4.4+ million downloads account for more than $26.4 million. With a 90 percent share of the profits, Yorke’s take should be an impressive $23.76 million off the bundle that included eight songs and one music video. By comparison, the Frozen soundtrack has sold 3.46 million copies since January and is considered the highest selling album of 2014.

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.

While sales data remains shrouded in mystery, it’s clear BitTorrent has a distribution model that can produce paying customers. Research firm Ipsos MediaCT revealed BitTorrent users were 170 percent more likely to purchase a digital music download than the average Internet user. They’re also not against putting their money where their clicks are as the average BitTorrent user spending $48 a year on music.

With digital download revenue expected to cross $4 billion globally for the first time ever this year, the road to future riches for the music industry may be paved in torrents.

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