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BitTorrent released its new Bundle format today in closed alpha, giving moviemakers, recording artists, authors, and anyone else who creates content a new mini-store that follows their art wherever it goes.

And, in fact, is embedded in their art.

“The BitTorrent Bundle is one of the biggest innovations in media distribution of our generation,” says Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of the 4 Hour Body.

Bundles combine content and commerce by enclosing files with wrappers that offer a part of the content free, and more via a pay gate. The payment, however, can be anything the artists desires: a like, a tweet, an email address, a newsletter signup, or, yes, cold hard cash. And, in a novel twist, artists want filesharers to share these files — because wherever the file goes, so goes the pay gate.

BitTorrent bundlesIn other words, the art is the cash register.

“As a filmmaker and artist, the promise of BitTorrent Bundles is to have a smarter and faster distribution system,” says A Total Disruption’s Ondi Timoner. “Through BitTorrent Bundles, I hope to build stronger and better bonds with my fans as well as find new audiences.”

In this Alpha launch, BitTorrent is starting slow, with content from those mentioned above, as well as other film studios, publishers, and artists. Madonna released a new film via a Bundle last week. Linkin Park is using the new format, as are Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and breakthrough rappers Public Enemy.

170 million people share files via BitTorrent, so the potential is large.

Creating a new bundle is a simple web process, BitTorrent says: Simply name it, add your media in any file type of any size, set up an email gate which allows some content “for free” and promises more for a sign-up, and you’re done. Other pay gates, including — of course — cash, are coming as the format matures and comes out of alpha.

Even now, the results appear to be good, according to early users.

“We used the platform to drive an additional 880,000 Amazon impressions for the book,” Tim Feriss says. “In my experience, there is no faster method for getting multimedia content to fans (and prospects) around the world.”

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