Video Marketing

What Iron Maiden BitTorrents Taught Me About ‘Big Data’

Shawn 01.24.2014

On December 26, 2013 Rolling Stone reported that Iron Maiden leveraged BitTorrent data of pirated downloads to plan their latest tour. It didn’t take long for the story to go viral. The only problem is it never happened.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible…

Basically, “Iron Maiden Marketing” (hypothetically) works like this:

  • Find the IP address of every illegal Iron Maiden torrent download.
  • Plot their locations.
  • Plan the tour where the most downloads occur.
  • Sell thousands of tickets to rabid fans
  • Make lots of money.

You might be asking, “Um…how?” And why use pirated data, not CD sales or itunes downloads to track Iron Maiden fans? Because it turns out:

Thieves are where the money’s at.

In this fantastic video PBS IdeaChannel claims, “Several studies show that people that download media, are a lot more likely to support it with cash.”

The American Assembly discovered that “those who download music are more likely to have a larger collection of legitimate media, than those who do not download music.”

The German Association for Consumer Research also reported that “users of streaming, torrent, and file sharing sites go ‘disproportionately’ to the movies.” By disproportionately, they mean “a lot.” Substitute “concert” for “movies” and you’ve got your market.

According to Rolling Stone, Iron Maiden grossed $2.5 million in Sao Paolo alone during their 2011 “The Final Frontier” World Tour.

The Pirate Bay,  alone boasts 3.8 million registered users (and users don’t even have to register, so the actual number is much higher). That’s a lot of listeners, and at $80 a ticket, it’s easy to see how numbers like Sao Paolo happen.

Awesome. Torrents = Conversions. So how do you find these user?

Enter Big Data

If you type “Iron Maiden BitTorrent downloads” into Google, you won’t get a tidy list of people (IP addresses) that downloaded Iron Maiden songs. You’ll get BitTorrent domains or  home pages. That list does exists online, which means users still give valuable marketing information – even when they’re stealing from you; it’s just not on Google.

Stay with me.

The algorithm your search engine (google, yahoo, bing) uses to bring you “useful” search results only accesses .03% of the internet. Seriously.

The other 99.7% of the internet is hidden from the bots that crawl for data, because honestly, most people can’t use it – it’s too dense. A lot of it’s also garbage or inaccessible data like password protected pages, monetized academic research, unpublished blog posts, and internal corporate sites, etc.


If you are one of the lucky few that can process the mountains of relevant Iron Maiden BitTorrent downloads, start yacht shopping.

Big Data is changing the world. The ability to drudge value out of composite data on the deep web to execute real world decisions – like planning a tour around internet thieves – is the next step in optimized analytics.

So next time you’re worried about giving away your product for free, take a lesson from Iron Maiden. Your best market might be the one that hasn’t paid you a single penny.


Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at

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