If you like Nine Inch Nails, click this link before reading any further (so you can listen to the album right now while you read a little about it from me).
I’ve been on a pretty good streak writing blogs about Ubuntu Linux lately, but now Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails went and released a new album by surprise. And I say surprise because not even one track of it was being pirated on the Internet before its official release date. Hey, I don’t know about you but I’m impressed by that. In most cases, new CD’s are pirated weeks in advanced by some Joe Shmoe delivery guy with a box cutter and audio ripping software, the files ending up in bittorrent swarms and spoiling the album later on. Perhaps not necessarily spoiling album sales per say, but spoiling it nonetheless.
Nine Inch Nails recently left Interscope Records; Trent Reznor choosing to avoid the red tape of signing any more contracts with another label went solo. Since that time, www.nin.com has added a new remix section to the website, where you can download multi-track versions of NIN songs and remix them to your hearts content, and then upload your mixes to share with the world online. This brand new 36 Instrumental release, entitled Ghosts I-IV, is being distributed under the Creative Commons License, or what some might call “Copyleft.” In short, you are free to copy and distribute the music, remix the music and publish, but only for non-commercial purposes. Because sharing is caring.
I could go on about all the cool little things Reznor had done to piss off his ex-record label (like dropping USB keys containing unreleased tracks into bathrooms at venues where Nine Inch Nails performed live; see: viral marketing). But I’d rather like to say more about the uniqueness in the way Trent chose to distribute and sell this latest album. For comparison, I’d like to criticize Radiohead’s In Rainbows.
In Rainbows was released on the Internet… or at least the first 10 tracks of it, as the physical CD release of it contained an additional 8 more and didn’t come out till a later date. In Rainbows was released for download, at a price of “Whatever you think it’s worth,” letting the fan choose their own price tag for the download. I remember downloading In Rainbows for nothing, and I’m glad I did. I like Radiohead (really!), but had I known in advanced that the Internet release wasn’t actually the whole thing, or that the download was in 160 Kbps MP3 format (mediocre quality), I’d probably wouldn’t have wasted my time waiting for their servers to come back online after the flood of downloads caused them to crash.
Trent Reznor, in the unique position of being a well known musician and also not being slave to a contract, decided to do his first truly solo release just a little differently. And I like the way it was done:
- Free: Download the first 9 tracks
- $5: Download all tracks in either Lossless FLAC, Apple Lossless or 320 Kbps MP3
- $10: Download all tracks as above, and get 2 CD digipack with booklet (shipping in April)
- Element of Surprise!
Now that’s a deal! And a rather clever business model.
There were some more expensive deluxe packages available, including a classy $300 package (above) with Trent Reznor’s handwritten signature (limited to 2500 units). So there’s something for everybody. You might not like industrial rock music (or whatever they’re labeling the genre these days), but you shouldn’t have any problem appreciating this business model. It’s genius!
Tuesday, March 4th, 2008