I don't know how many of you out there are Nine Inch Nails fans, but even if you aren't go check out http://www.nin.com right now to see what I'm talking about.
Nine Inch Nails' record deal expired recently. This means that they became free agents are were able to do as they pleased with their music. Trent Reznor is the man behind NIN, (from what I understand he's really most of the music) and he has always treated his fans very well. Each time you get a mailout or go onto his website, its a letter written to his fans and signed by Trent.
In the wake of the collapse of the music industry where record labels have been suing us the fans for downloading, and taking massive measures to keep their CD selling business alive, I have felt more and more distaste towards the whole thing. Hearing that someone got sued over downloads doesn't make me want to stop, it makes me want to go out and teach others how to download. You always hear all this garbage about how "You're hurting the artists!" - but I call bullshit. I mean really, if you make an album on a traditional record deal you make something obnoxious off of each CD sale like $1. You also have to pay back the record company for the "loan" they gave you to produce your music, print it, etc... so the record company gets to keep all the profits, charge you for making the album, amongst many other shady things going on.
Trent's first foray into the world of downloads was with the artist Saul Williams (who I have to miss because of the orage masters... damn you cody for not checking my concert schedule) where him and Trent collaborated to make "The inevitable rise and liberation of Niggy Tardust."
At the website you were given three choices. Buy album, download album and share with a friend. It was simple. $5 got you a high quality DRM-free copy of the album, free got you a lower (but still perfectly fine) copy, and share let you tell friends. Now because it was an experiment the free was limited to the first 100,000 people. This kind of music was way out of left field for NIN fans, but I was so fascinated with what Trent had done I gave him my $5 anyways. I mean really, I like the guys music, and this way I know I'm just giving my money right to him. So even if the project sucked, its going to a good cause anyways!
The album is rad and you should check it out if you get the chance. Its crazy as hell, but It is interesting.
Now, Trent was a little disappointed with how many people bought the album. only 18% of people paid for it, which ended up generating a net loss financially for the album. Trent blamed himself a little for spending too much money producing it, but also sort of hoped that people would just have bought it a little more. That being said, Saul Williams last album sold something like 40,000 copies, whereas this album was downloaded something like 140,000 times. I'd bet that he'll clean up on the live circut, as really live performances are where artists make a lot of their money anyways.
Now, lets fast forward a little to very recently. Trent just tried it again, except this time with a NIN project called "ghosts". He said that he's been wanting to do this project for a long time, but since it is a 4 album instrumental album, it was too weird for a traditional release. So once again he turned to NIN.com to release it.
"Nine Inch Nails presents Ghosts I - IV, a brand new 36 track
instrumental collection available right now. Almost two hours of new
music composed and recorded over an intense ten week period last fall,
Ghosts I - IV sprawls Nine Inch Nails across a variety of new terrain.
Trent Reznor explains, "I've been considering and wanting to make this
kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn't have made
sense until this point. This collection of music is the result of
working from a very visual perspective - dressing imagined locations
and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams. I'm
very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to
you without interference. I hope you enjoy the first four volumes of
I dropped into NIN.com the other day to find these options to buy ghosts:
-$5 download. Included: Ghosts 1-4 in any digital format you want plus included 40 page PDF
-free. Included: Ghost 1 (9 tracks) plus included 40 page PDF
-$10 2xCD set in a six panel digipak package with a 16 page booklet. You get immediate digital download to listen until it ships
-$75 deluxe edition package. Includes: Ghosts I-IV in a hardcover fabric slipcase containing: 2 audio CDs, 1
data DVD with all 36 tracks in multi-track format, and a Blu-ray disc
with Ghosts I-IV in high-definition 96/24 stereo and accompanying
-$300 Ultra-deluxe Limited Edition Package - Only 2500 and they sold out fast as fuck. (I think everything was signed by trent)
I immediately decided what the fuck, I'll give trent another $5 and I got the entire collection in a matter of minutes. Its a really great album, and if you're a fan of the musical side of NIN this is a MUST. Hell you can download the first part for free and if you like it give the guy a couple bucks!
Now what the real rockstar amazing story here is that the album has sold 800,000 units already and its not even in stores. Trent just pocketed $1.6 million and he's fucking STOKED. A message on his website today:
First of all, a sincere THANK YOU
for the response to Ghosts. We are all amazed at the reaction for what
we assumed would be a quiet curiosity in the NIN catalog. My faith in
all of you has been restored - let's all go have coffee somewhere (my
Today we announce the expansion of the Ghosts project
into the visual world. This record began as an experiment with us using
sound as a means to describe visuals. Early in the project we thought
it would be interesting to see what the community could create /
collaborate on as a reaction to the music we were making. We wanted to
keep the canvas as blank as possible for you, hence the lack of
descriptive song titles and the primarily textural artwork and
So here's the plan: we've teamed up with YouTube to host
a "film festival" around Ghosts. The concept is for you to take
whatever tracks you feel inspired by from Ghosts and create what you
feel should accompany them visually. You will be able to see all of the
submissions, and a team of us (including me) will be sorting through
them and setting aside ones we feel are exceptional. Eventually (within
a couple of months?) we will present a virtual "film festival" with me
and some special guests presenting selections of your work.
isn't a contest and you don't win elaborate prizes - it's meant to be
an experiment in collaboration and a chance for us to interact beyond
the typical one-way artist-to-fan relationship. We've discussed some
interesting ways this could go, including multiple installments of the
online "film festivals," to broadcast TV specials, to a one-time live
performance of the entire Ghosts record with your visuals involved. It
really depends on how this progresses and develops.
We are all very much looking forward to what you come up with, and hope you enjoy the experience. Visit our YouTube channel for information on how to participate.
posted by Trent Reznor at 10:42 AM pst, from los angeles."
Check the Reuters article about it here: http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSN1435904220080314
Now he's getting all into this community thing... the music video thing is unreal and could be cool as hell. he's already got an incredibly active remix community going at remix.nin.com How cool is that? He just gives you the tracks to remix and then you can post them. Hell the last album NIN put out was a bunch of fan/pro remixes. Super sick. I look at it like newschoolers for a band... tight knit community who really supports what they believe in.
I'm super happy this worked out for him. It wasn't like when radiohead did it for a publicity stunt and then all of a sudden just put the album in stores. This is truly the birth of a new model of music.
However, if this is going to last, we the fans need to band together and PAY for good music. I'm all for stealing puff daddy's latest track, or ripping off any major label there is, but when an artist goes out of their way to bring this to you, fucking buy it. Then buy a ticket to their concert when they're in your area, because if we the fans don't speak up with our dollars, the record companies will step back in and once again pollute the music industry.