Chuck D and Public Enemy have just released a new single that remixes things on multiple levels, and does some interesting platform-building. They are going full-disintermediation on the distribution model, and creating new audience engagement methods.
As we have come to expect from PE, the song advocates fiercely for freedom from oppression. It remixes culture, and history along with the words of Bob Marley into a wide-ranging screed. They also bring in one of my current favorite hip hop artists on the record, Brother Ali.
Chuck D has long advocated Peer to Peer (P2P) file sharing as a means for artists to connect with their audiences. While the business models for this distribution has been unclear, there is an interesting remix happening on this level as well. For those who don’t know, P2P sharing on a Torrent allows thousands of computers to come together in ad-hoc networks to allow for file sharing on the internet. While it has arguably been mostly used to share copyrighted material illegally, we have a new wrinkle.
The big news here is really the new Bit Torrent bundle. This new people to share over a Torrent network and to set terms for unlocking the content. This can allow for distribution over the torrent network, which cuts out the need for big streaming servers. This has the potential to change the way intellectual property can be distributed as new business models can be built around the service. (Note that it’s a very uncontrolled landscape, so the shake-out of these changes are really unknown.)
As for platform-building, with this release, PE is simply asking for an email address in exchange for the download (unverified, BTW). PE is trading this song and the related materials for some permission marketing. It helps to validate the torrent paywall proof of concept, and gives the band some valuable platform-building raw materials.
As part of the download, PE has released remixable multi-tracks of the song and encouraged its audience to make their own versions. I think this is also a really interesting engagement-building platform strategy.