Axe master. Hair farmer. Tech innovator.
Yep, Slash is the latest artist to experiment with digital content distribution outside proprietary storefronts like iTunes and other on-demand services. The former Guns N’ Roses guitarist has just released Live at the Roxy 9/25/14, a concert film with his solo band featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, as a BitTorrent Bundle, a direct-to-consumer download using BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer technology.
“There’s so much going on right now, there’s no one format that everybody uses anymore,” Slash tells Fast Company from a tour stop in Hamburg, Germany, for his third solo album, World On Fire. “Us musicians who do this want to facilitate people getting our music however they want to get it. It’s like the Wild West out there, there’s no one main avenue.”
Bundle, whose early adopters were independent musicians, has gained traction this year in the video space–initially, film studios used it primarily to distribute supplementary content, but BitTorrent has recently released two feature films–David Cross’s HITS and Drafthouse Films’ Spring), as well as a Doctor Who 10-episode box set with the BBC.
Unlike a storefront or service, BitTorrent Bundle is a download-only product that protects multimedia content behind a gate that can be unlocked for a price set by the publisher and promoted on any site or platform. The gate travels with the content as it is shared. Files are DRM-free, and the artist or publisher keeps all revenue except for transaction costs and BitTorrent’s 10% cut. This means that Slash and any co-copyright holders will keep most of the $15.99 download price for every Bundle.
In addition to the film’s digital download, Live at the Roxy 9/25/14 is also available on physical Blu-ray and DVD, as well as audio-only on vinyl, CD, or digital formats, at all major retailers through Eagle Rock Entertainment.
“It was a nostalgic kind of a thing,” says Slash about the performance at the Roxy in West Hollywood, one of four small club performances just after the release of World On Fire. “All four [shows] were wild gigs. The whole reason behind recording one of them at least was to be able to capture that vibe of a small, intimate setting, packed to the rafters, loud and boisterous. We didn’t have plans to make a live record, we just thought it would be good to memorialize that little period.”
Slash is also using his output around World On Fire to support the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and raise awareness about the slaughter of elephants as a result of the ivory trade.
“We had written a song [“Beneath the Savage Sun”] that was through an elephant’s eyes about what’s going on with the elephant population as a result of the ivory trade,” says Slash. “It was inspired by a trip to Africa. This issue has always been important to me.”
Fans can download the song for free with a donation to the organization, and Slash and Kennedy created a video last month to further IFAW’s efforts.