The rumour in Sweden is currently that The Pirate Bay was making a hell of a lot of money from their ads. According to "sources", one big ad at the top of the page cost 200kSEK per day (this translates to $27000USD plus change). Since the two guys running the site both still have day jobs, I call bullshit.
But, if you can make that kind of money on TPB, why haven't any media corps set up their own ad-sponsored trackers?
Lets assume Sony (I use them as an example simply because I like to kick their balls since the rootkit scandal) sets up a torrent tracker, has their own seeders placed locally at ISPs (thanks to Robert X for this one) with guaranteed non-corrupted files, a nice search function, a referral service, forum community with participation by artists, correct metadata, no DRM, no viruses, no RIAA lawsuits, playlist-generator, competitions with backstage passes as prizes, a webshop for buying CDs, t-shirts, posters, concert tickets, desktop pictures, jewelcase inlay kits (co-sponsored by a printer manufacturer and CDR-importer) - the possibilities are endless. The traffic numbers would go through the roof, they'd put iTunes out of business in a heartbeat, they'd get loads of useful listening information and data to mine and the running costs would be minimal since the customers would do most of the heavy lifting in distribution and marketing.
It's basically free money for the record companies, less load on ISP backbone links and free music for listeners. Added bonuses would be a more direct communications route artist - consumer, but I'd guess that the record execs would be slightly less enthusiastic about that aspect.
Next in line to use the portal are the MPAA and both national and local TV and radio stations and networks. Anyone that would benefit from using a "free" system of distribution in the interest of cutting costs in a major way by giving up their shaky monopoly revenues in exchange for a steady stream of "normal" levels of cash would want in on this.
So, who's first to register www.themediabay.com ?
And Sony, I'm GIVING you this idea. Run with it or not, as you like. Want me to sign something to that effect? Send it on, I'll sign - provided that you actually do it. But know that if you don't, we'll know that you're not in it for the money, you're in it for the control of the market and the supra-normal monopoly profits you've had in the past. Know that those days are over and this is a new ballgame.
Wanna play? Play. But don't hog the ball.