Yesterday, we reported on a supergroup of A-list rockstars forming – not to perform music – but to compose an open letter attacking search engines, and especially Google, for making it easier for internet users to access pirated music.

The likes of Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend of The Who, Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant and Queen guitar wizard Brian May are just a handful of the music legends who signed off on a public letter addressed to British Prime Minister David Cameron, highlighting the role that internet search engines play in giving access to illegal downloading.

While they took the offensive approach, across the pond, DJ Shadow is taking the ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ approach.

Wired reports that Shadow, or Josh Davis to his mum, is partnering up with download client, BitTorrent to distribute his latest release; becoming the first artist to team up with the peer-to-peer sharing service and the first to make money off his music from them.

Total Breakdown: Hidden Transmissions From The MPC Era, 1992-1996 is a compilation of rare and previously unreleased material from the famed DJ, drawing from the vaults to release vintage tracks and cuts from a time long before the advent of digital distribution and flagrant musical piracy.

In a unique attempt to stem the issue of music piracy, while still gaining financial benefits for his music, Shadow has constructed a special ‘BitTorrent Bundle’ version of Total Breakdown to be offered exclusively through the program. Containing a three track sampler of the collection, along with archival material such as footage and images from the period as well as free software from one of BitTorrent’s advertising partners.

It’s an interesting scheme, that doesn’t quite ‘give away’ the album, but instead acts an incentive for investing in the full version. As for the financial benefits for Shadow, each click through to a download to the BitTorrent Total Breakdown exclusive earns a commission for DJ Sahdow.

BitTorrent’s CEO, Eric Klinker sees the model as a new experiment in ways to “monetise the entire torrent ecosystem,” offering “a potentially sustainable way for all artists to monetise BitTorrent.”

We can’t quite see it competing on the same level as widely installed streaming services like Spotify or MOG, or if users will be able to distinguish between downloading a sampler from the same download client that’s only a few clicks from a pirated version; but it’s a sign of good faith on the part of DJ Shadow – working with digital distribution rather than against it.

“It’s very difficult for any artist to talk about any of this stuff on the record, because no one wants to get painted with the Metallica brush,” DJ Shadow aka Josh Davis, told Wired in an interview last year, referring to the famous Napster/Lars Ulrich rivalry.

“As a musician that has been involved in one of the industries decimated by the internet, I’ve experienced a weird duality: The internet was supposed to democratize communication, but the opposite seems to have happened,” Davis further lamenting that peer-to-peer services and file sharing had “removed music sales from the equation.”

You can give the new BitTorrent/DJ Shadow model a run for yourself,  the Total Breakdown bundle can be downloaded now. The album, in physical and digital formats, is due for release in August 15, and you can have a listen to a sample below:

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