While many people know BitTorrent as a method of finding shady movie, TV and game downloads online, the company wants to branch out into the more traditional — and profitable — streaming scene. BitTorrent Now is a new streaming music client that wants to give both artists and listeners a fair shake.
BitTorrent shared the information on the company’s blog, where it also told fans a little bit about the history of the program. Back in 2013, BitTorrent Bundle helped connect fans with creator-driven content. BitTorrent Bundle is not shutting down, but rather just rebranding as BitTorrent Now, and it still carries its catalog of 30,000 artists and 200,000,000 fans.
The BitTorrent Now app has launched simultaneously on Android, iOS and Apple TV, and from a listener perspective, there’s nothing too crazy going on here. From an interface that looks a lot like Spotify, users can browse music by artist, search by title, see the latest featured songs and learn how many other people are listening to the same things. They can also make playlists, which sync across multiple devices. There’s no special client for computers; rather, users just download songs through the BitTorrent client. (When your friends kept insisting there were “real, legal uses for torrenting,” they weren’t kidding after all.)
Previously, BitTorrent Bundle had only two options: free content or paid content, with each artist deciding how much material to let users download, and how much they wanted to put behind a paywall. BitTorrent Now offers a middle path: the ad-supported model, similar to Pandora or Spotify. Artists can opt in to this process, which lets users listen to their entire albums in exchange for viewing ads. Artists receive a cut of each listen, supposedly at a better rate than competing streaming services.
Generally speaking, BitTorrent Now doesn’t have the latest and greatest hits from the biggest acts in music, although it does have some tracks from the likes of Thom Yorke, who helped put BitTorrent Bundle on the map. Instead, it relies on smaller acts and their dedicated fans which, so far, has been working out just fine for the service. Whether it’s looking to expand its reach or just be the best alternative music-streaming service it can be, it’s probably worth a look. You just might find a catchy new artist before he or she sells out.