Music industry duped by spammy BitTorrent ad, band caught in the middle

Here's a fascinating look at how two opposing groups with an interest in inflating piracy numbers drove each other crazy and screwed up a nice-seeming band in the process.

Cameron Tilbury, the manager of a Canadian band called One Soul Thrust, did a Google search for BitTorrent downloads of the band's debut album. He got a link to a site that claimed that 100,000 people were actively downloading the album.

What he didn't know is that the site, LimeTorrents, will show you a fake results page that has 100,000 people downloading any file you enter into its search box -- even imaginary files like "fake123.torrent."

So Tilbury kind of freaked out. After all, the band only had 176 Twitter followers and one YouTube video with 79 views -- if they'd gone piracy-platinum without earning a penny, well, that was pretty weird and disturbing (and heartening, as the lead singer noted that the band was "flattered that people could love our music that much"). The story got picked up by the Canadian Recording Industry Association's astroturf site, "Balanced Copyright for Canada" (despite its name, CRIA represents the interests of the four major international labels, who are the only voting members -- most Canadian labels staged a walkout some years ago from the organisation).

CRIA and "Balanced Copyright" ran with the story, touting it as proof that piracy was destroying the careers of fledgling indie bands who were struggling to launch their careers. TorrentFreak, who broke the story (and who were rubbished by the band's manager) are sympathetic to the band's disappointment at "losing" 100,000 fans, and is calling on its readers to follow the band on Twitter and check out its video and debut album.

I'm going to end this piece with an unusual request because, to be brutally honest, I feel sorry for this band. All good musicians want to be heard and One Soul Thrust have just 'lost' 100K fans overnight. From what i've seen they seem really nice guys (and girl) and are completely innocent in all of this and although their music isn't my scene, it sounds fairly decent to me.

At the time of writing they only have 176 Twitter followers, 324 on Facebook and their solitary video on YouTube has 79 views.

Please give the CRIA and the Balanced Copyright For Canada Facebook page something interesting to talk about by adding, following, Tweeting and re-Tweeting the band right now. Get creative and feel free to post any links where you mention them on other sites (Reddit etc) in the comments. A ten-fold increase in a day or two shouldn't be too hard

CRIA Watches Massive Music Piracy Crisis Devastate Unknown Band (Thanks, @maradydd!)


  1. Mr Cameron Tilbury,
    God bless you and good day. My name is Mumbutu Mumbu, and I am a Nigerian prince. If you are willing to help me get some money out of my native land, I will gladly pay you $1million canadian dollars.

    Please replies with your banking infomration so I may begin the process.

    Mr. Mumbu


    I fear for Mr. Cameron Tilbury, I don’t think he should be allowed on the internet unsupervised. All of those predator types would have him showing up on a web cam with a shoe on his head in no time.

  2. I just tweeted them, and bought a single on iTunes. It takes so little, and means so much! Let’s give ’em a day they’ll never forget.

  3. Well, if downloads are lost sales. I can’t see any reason why imaginary downloads should be any different. Objectively they affect the band in much the same way. Though one could argue that real downloads provide an increased amount of exposiure which increases the chace that people will purchase, so I suppose imaginary downloads are even more damaging then reagular downloads.

    I think they should sue someone, I’m just not sure who.

    1. @Anon Are you kidding me? “Imaginary downloads” are more harmful than real ones? You do realize it was just text being rendered in a browser, right?

      To that end, my simply saying:


      Just caused him unimaginable losses.

      You are insane. If we’re at a point where you can’t even post an imaginary fake download counter without threat of being sued, we’re in for a bumpy ride. Next thing you know, saying the word “download” or THINKING about downloading something will be grounds for a multimillion dollar lawsuit.


  4. I’m a little confused. The “devastation” that this band has experienced, the “screwing-up” of a nice band, as you said, is…. that they thought a spam link was real and that they had 100,000 imaginary fans? And now we’re supposed to all link to them because they’re broken-hearted?

    BREAKING: Young Boston-area BB commentator has been completely “screwed-up” over an email that claimed he was the guaranteed winner of a million-dollar lottery ticket. It turns out the email was fake. Because of the emotional devastation this has caused, please send this man some money. Bank account # to follow.

    … ok, maybe I misunderstood what happened to this band?

    1. Nope, you got it. It’s pretty silly too: 79 video views, 100K downloads? If there are 10,000 signs you haven’t made it, but one sketchy website insists you really have, you believe the website?

      What’s happened, though, is that they’ve thrust themselves into the middle of a PR fight. CRIA was pumped to have a real world example of ‘the little guy’ being hurt by piracy. (this is their reason for existing: shouldn’t they at least have been able to spot the fact the story didn’t jive?) Now supporters of laxer copyright law see an opportunity to get this story to blow up in the CRIA’s face. “No, nobody knew about the band or was pirating their music. But now that we do know about them, their sales have gone through the roof, they’ve got all these new fans and twitter followers. Looks like the pirates are helping the little guy cash in again: what have you done for them?”

      So it’s not so much that they’re the victims of anything unique, as it is that painting them as the victims helps advance a message. There are odder ways of achieving fame, though.

      1. >> this is their reason for existing: shouldn’t they at least have been able to spot the fact the story didn’t jive?

        But that’s just it. ‘Facts’ are only those things that are consistent with your beliefs. Anything that is not consistent with your beliefs is wrong.

        To paraphrase the great philosopher Stephen Colbert, ‘truthiness’ is things that are known to be true, regardless of the actual truth.

    1. because they have a moron as a manager who set them up to be a pawn in the copyright wars.

  5. I have no idea since the band now claims that internet pirates are somehow after them…. They are all in all complete douches about it all.

        1. Fair enough.

          I guess the band doesn’t understand what’s going on either, based on that rather clueless comment.

  6. this is one of the most brilliant marketing schemes i’ve yet to see. what a way to get exposure! I love it. i’m going to try it with my next project.

  7. From their twitter –
    So…the music thieves are after us now.
    13 minutes ago via Facebook

    They are still convinced the faked stats are real.
    And everyone is just out to get them.

    While it would have been nice to do something for them, I think their current actions are going to kill the fledgling goodwill.

    1. If it wasn’t for the torrents and the misunderstanding of the manager of this band, no one would care I for one don’t.

      Its a non story, blown out of proportion by vested interests.
      The manager probably thinks that he can get some headlines for this mediocre metal band.

      Oh how I hate, “metal” bands from America so if you want a charity case go download their songs.

      The bit torenting is the future of online marketing and commerce you download it, you like it, you buy it, the consumer gets the power back from the corp with inflated pricing and profiteering companies.

      Many artist can prosper via this channel of new marketing Artist like Prince are giving away their albums to newspaper and recouping profits via touring and sales to the Newspaper.

      So it can be done.

  8. I think their comment to the intial article on the Facebook page Balanced Copyright For Canada sums up why we should ignore them.

    “One of the deepest wounds for us is the fact that many people paid pirates for our work. So those well-intentioned souls believe they’re financially supporting us. That sick twist defies decent description.”

    Obviously bittorrent isn’t something they understand.

    source –

  9. Can we change headline to “Band gets free publicity because manager and CRIA don’t understand teh interwebz”?

    1. Not particularly. It tastes to me of some honest musician types making a simple mistake and then being used as a boxing glove by both sides in an argument they don’t personally give much of a darn about.

      In their shoes, I’d think of both sides as “the music pirates” and prefer obscurity to feeling the rain from this pissing match.

  10. Even without the cutesy story that followed; in what way would the band have lost out exactly?

    Hypothetical, based on the assumptions originally made: They went from being unknown, to having ‘100,000’ listeners overnight. Is someone seriously suggesting that this would have harmed them? Like the alternative would have been that 100,000 people would have bought their album (ye, right)? 100,000 fans make for a solid tour, a decent amount of merchandising up-sell and many future album sales. Were it not for the imaginary 100,000 downloads they’d still be unknown and no one would be buying their music or enjoying their sound, going to their gigs or buying their stuff. In hypothetical world all that torrenting turned them into a real band – where’s the thanks to torrents then?

    If anything I think that this story, even in its original fake form, still showed how effective torrents can be at turning an unknown into a known – and how torrents aren’t really a problem.

    Do they just not get it? 100,000 downloads DOES NOT MEAN 100,000 lost sales. Period. To prove my point I could go and download Lady Gaga’s entire back catalogue, but guess what, I’d NEVER buy it (or listen to it); therefore no one has lost anything. Get it yet copyright trolls?

  11. Heh, those “search results” are the equivalent of link pumping sites that hook onto topics like porn and basically link to each other promising the reader is just one click away from the naughty bits. All while serving up ad after ad on their various sites in the digital circle jerk.

    Submitted by cashbox on Fri, 03/18/2011 – 11:40 News Entertainment
    EDMONTON, ALBERTA: Canadian rock band ONE SOUL THRUST has achieved Platinum status with their debut CD, 1ST. For most bands, this would be a very good thing—especially on a debut release.
    The problem with this Platinum status…is that it’s unofficial. Actually, it’s more than unofficial. It’s illegal.

    The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) states that, to achieve Platinum status, an album must achieve sales of 100,000 copies/downloads of an album. Sales…that’s the key. A random polling of several torrent site’s downloads—ILLEGAL downloads—has shown that 1ST, the debut cd by ONE SOUL THRUST has been downloaded over 100,000 times.

    “We’re flattered that people could love our music that much, but this is really tough to take,” says ONE SOUL THRUST’S lead-vocalist Salem Jones. “While I question the exact precision of these numbers- pirates are dishonest by nature- it appears they reflect a strong enough version of reality to bring a serious issue to light. We paid to create that album totally out of our own pockets. People think of illegal downloading not hurting anyone, but we’re real people too- with real mortgages, real family to feed and real bills to pay. By downloading our album from pirate sites, people have stolen from us, our families, everyone involved in the production of our album, and their families.”

    According to Cameron Tilbury, the band’s manager, “This is not a victimless crime. No artist—whether they’re international superstars or not—should be ripped-off like this. But it really affects the smaller, independent artists the most since they rely on grants, loans and investors and already live pretty close to the edge. Illegally downloading over 100,000 copies of an album is no different than stealing the physical copies of the cd out of a warehouse or retail outlet. I wish there was a way to stop it.”

    ONE SOUL THRUST is enjoying worldwide airplay on their debut single, Go Home & Melt, featuring duet vocals with Glenn Hughes. That—and the rest of their debut album 1ST, can be downloaded LEGALLY at CD Baby, iTunes and other online music retailers.

    For more information about ONE SOUL THRUST:

    Cameron Tilbury

    Methinks someone should call (or e-mail) Mr. Tilbury and just let him know how much of a douchebag he is.

    No, really. This is a big deal. Because made-up stories like these are manna from heaven to companies like Bell Canada and Rogers, and to the people who want to saddle us with pieces of …. (legislation) like BillC-32.

  13. The band do seem to be playing this wrong and coming over as whiny and clueless, but they are still generating publicity so maybe they know exactly what they are doing.

  14. When I realised my band’s first album was allover torrent trackers and Russian MP3 sites I was flattered more than anything.

  15. I wonder how they came up with the 100,000 number. Seems like the site always shows about 5000 fake downloads. Maybe they refreshed the browser 20 times and didn’t clue in to the random number generation.

  16. So … when I visit One Soul Thrust’s twitter site to see their most recent post, my twitter points out that we both follow @OpenMedia_ca.

    From’s self-description: “ is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization pushing for media diversity in Canada.”

    At the moment, they are in engaged in the fight against usage-based billing in Canada, which BoingBoing has covered recently:

    I think it’s fair to say that – though’s supporters presumably come from all walks of life, with a variety of reasons for supporting the organization – Folks who participate in P2P sharing and torrenting (because of their slightly higher bandwidth use) are PARTICULARLY LIKELY to be supporters of

    As (it seems) are One Soul Thrust.

    I find this amusing. I can’t help it. ;)

  17. Oh but wait! On, they have a total of 1 seeder(s) and 5 snatches! OMG OMG THE PIRATES ARE COMING

  18. The band is clueless.
    The media is clueless.
    The industry is clueless.

    Color me surprised.

  19. Their YouTube page only has one video, and its just the band thinking people for supporting them. Their band page has a lot of content that my workplace is blocking. But there is some previews at They are okay. They are a band I might like if i was sitting at my local burger joint with a large beer. The sound quality of the MP3 previews leave a lot to be desired, but they have potential.

  20. The band is all like “LOL we’re clueless old people who don’t understand the internets”

    Without radio we’re nothing! Yeeeeeeaaaaahhhhh shitty FM radioooooOO!~

    I listened to the two partial tracks they have on their homepage (the third one is for MEMBERS ONLY! What is this a pr0n site?) and left unimpressed. I feel like buying one of their MP3s would be the online music equivilent of tossing a quarter in a passed out junkie’s Dunkin Donuts cup. I don’t think they’d want me to insult their integrity that way.

  21. To make matters worse, the band had all their cash tied up in this really promising Nigerian investment that was going to make them millions for just pennies…

  22. Wow, I wish my indie group could have gotten some random, totally arbitrary overnight publicity like this. If only we’d been dumb enough to be fooled by fake internet advertisements, we could have been the next hot thing instead.

  23. Hey, that happened to my band too!! We also had over one million fans that turned out not to ever have existed! Weird coincidence…

  24. I didn’t realize a North American phone number had more then 7 digits. I thought we haven’t reach that stage yet.
    huh? I thought this was a small time Canadian band. If they had money to hire an international PR….

    I with SamSam on this. I’m also smelling this a fake, a free publicity outcry.

  25. I think they need to sack their manager. Especially if he’s that guy in the hat.

  26. Nah, sorry. Not gonna follow this band. They still don’t understand that the 100,000 downloads are fake. They are still activist against downloading as seen on their Twitter:

    “Read the latest in our battle against illegal downloading here:

    “So…the music thieves are after us now.”

    “I don’t have any agenda here. I don’t believe in theft…and illegal downloading is theft. Plain and simple.”

  27. I can understand everyone’s criticism of the band and the manager for being gullible, but I have yet to see anyone go after LimeTorrents for having a deliberately misleading results page for their web form. I’d credit them for at least 50% of this idiocy. How would a legitimate enterprise benefit from automatic misrepresentation, and rather poorly implemented to boot? I mean, come on. At least randomize the results a little. 100K every time says you’re barely trying.

  28. Several years ago I was doing IT support for a group that represented some models. The legal side of the group came to me one day with a website that purported to have naked photos of one of the models and they were asking how they could get around the credit card payment that the site wanted to see these photos. I pointed out that the URL of the site was something like and that we could make the site say that they photos of naked George Washington if we wanted. In perhaps a rare case of reason carrying the day, they dropped the issue.

  29. “…One Soul Thrust have just ‘lost’ 100K fans overnight.”

    How did they ‘lose’ 100k fans if they thought 100k people were listening to their music?
    Oh right, its all about money to even the indie bands, thats 100k*(price of CD) that they have lost.
    So much for music being an art.

    1. How did they ‘lose’ 100k fans if they thought 100k people were listening to their music?

      Because those fans never existed in the first place. In their perception, they went from unknown indie band to 100,000+ fans… back to unknown indie band, because the 100k stat was fake to begin with and they have in fact achieved nothing except to get themselves trapped in the middle of the recording industry’s war on its customers. Okay, they’ve gotten some publicity out of it and hopefully some genuine new fans, but not the 100k they thought.

  30. They’re not a bad band; not exactly my thing but well done. I followed them and mentioned I saw it on BoingBoing in the hopes that they’ll eventually read this. I totally understand their trying to see how much publicity they can get; hope they do eventually see that without the TorrentFreak article they’d not have heard from many of us.

  31. Their manager is either utterly incompetent, or he’s playing this for news coverage (in which case it’s a good concept but an absolutely terrible move to make because he’s throwing his band under the CRIA bus).

    Surely this guy can’t be harder to confront with the truth than Scientologists.

  32. My day is sometimes filled with explaining common sense to people who do not understand the internet. This joker band is no different.

    If someone kicks and screams because the aliens anally probed them I am not going to say “there, there – here’s some topical cream”, I am going to have a hearty gut-laugh at their preposterous ‘understanding’ of the world.

  33. PS: I don’t know where the moron manager got the number 100,000 from. This is obviously a BS attempt at sob story publicity – from LimeTorrent search for ‘happy mutant':

    External Search Results Speed Added DLs
    happy mutant [TRUSTED DOWNLOAD]
    1497 KB/Sec 16 hours ago 1294
    happy mutant Full Download
    1939 KB/Sec 8 hours ago 1185
    [HIGHSPEED] happy mutant
    2515 KB/Sec 23 hours ago 1081
    happy mutant Torrent
    3745 KB/Sec 6 hours ago 1075

    Those numbers are in the 1000s, not the 100,000s. I suggest you pull this story BB as they are playing you and the net community for exposure.

  34. Actually, it wasn’t Torrent Freak that broke the story, it was little old me. My original article is here. I called Torrent Freak in on it to check my numbers in cased I screwed up somewhere, because Cameron was talking a good story, and he actually had be questioning whether I was right.

    It was a good thing that I called them in, they found a couple of things that I wouldn’t have. But hey, they’ve got more experience.

    Wayne Borean

  35. Is it possible that this was a weird publicity stunt? Listened to a few songs and… they’re OK I guess. Not my thing and not a band I’ll purchase anything by. I hate to be a cynic, but was this a way to get the band attention and sympathy in an attempt to drive sales?

  36. If their lyrics are half as dumb as they are in public, I’m gonna be safe and NOT listen to them.

    I am, however, going to call a whambulance right now. They should worry more about chord progressions than spam sites.

    Their manager really needs to take some Learning Annex classes on teh intarwebz.

  37. “Cameron Tilbury, the manager of a Canadian band”….
    hmm? really?? Have a look at the website (as mentioned above), see that telephone number at the bottom of the page ? +44 is for the UK right? so thats a UK mobile/cell phone number.

    Google ( the no. (07815 ******) – first hit:
    “Letter: Can you help save dog rescue centre?” with name (Cameron Tilbury), address and, oh look the same phone number!

    so, scam ?

    to be fair google (when searching for the telephone number) also finds his CV:
    which claims: Nationality: Canadian/British

    I dunno….

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