Music piracy is definitely not anything new. After the rise of Napster, then the evolution into Limewire/Frostwire and eventually the use of The Pirate Bay and Utorrent, basically any movie, song, or video game is easily accessible online for free. For decades this has been a major problem for record labels, seeing it as a form of evil, but Tommy Funderbunk, founder of Muzit seeks to change all that.
“In about 2002 I started a record label, we signed Heart—we signed a few great artists, but something was nipping at their sales: managers of some of the bands started calling, going, ‘hey, why are these people thanking us for the album in Brazil?’…We realized that as a small independent label, we could not compete in terms of sales with the volume of traffic.”
Muzit is kown for its TRACE Program, or "Torrent Reporting and Content Engine," which tracks and follows peer-to-peer sharing networks in real time. TRACE pinpoints physical locations across the world, which allows Artists to know how many fans they have and where they are located. This is extremely powerful, and all artists use social media sites for such information; for example, Facebook has the same information but for fans, likes, and comments. This information is not new however, it has only previously been utilized in piracy lawsuits, but instead of seeing piracy as an unstoppable evil, TRACE uses this information for the artists benefit.
“Every piece of information is a unique stat…a household. Sometimes, within these households lurk ‘super-users’—those who seed the most. Underneath each of these [super-users] is a network of people that share with them.”
TRACE works with artists that specifically do not want to sue their fans, rather they would like to connect with their fans and grow their fanbase. Fans can opt in to receive information from the artists, which may include giveaways and competitions, or they can opt out and TRACE will only give out their zip codes. It will not be surprising if thousands, if not more, artists look into using TRACE.
In a world full of pessimists in the industry fearing piracy, TRACE offers a fresh new perspective to make piracy work for everyone.