Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Well, Trent Reznor is releasing the first Nine Inch Nails album since leaving the world of the major labels. It's called Ghosts I-IV and it's all instrumental.

He's following the Radiohead model of offering it in different incarnations for different prices. You can get the first nine tracks as a free download. You can download the whole 36 track album for $5, and it comes with a 40 page PDF booklet. You can get a double CD for $10. If you do this, you can get a free download of the album immeadiately. There's a special high end version for $75, and a super deluxe version for $300. but that version has already sold out. It was a limited edition of 2500 copies. That's $750,000 right there, minus recording and production costs. The future is here. For artists like Trent and Radiohead, who have built-in fan bases, who don't really need to be marketed to, the major labels are totally unecessary.

Still, it will be interesting to see if this appeals to anyone outside of a small fanbase. Trent tried something like this a few months back: he produced and released an album by the spoken-word artist Saul Williams, and allowed people to download it for free, or they could pay up to $5 for it. Apparently, most people didn't pay, which bummed Trent out. The thing is, (a) lots of his fans were probably curious enough to want to hear it. But even back in his commercial heyday, his endorsement didn't always lead to successful bands: although he did well with Marilyn Manson, some of his other Nothing Records artists, like Prick, didn't sell much.

I bought the double CD. I'm a huge fan of his. I don't need all of the deluxe stuff, but I still prefer CDs to mp3s when it comes to my favorite artists. I'm not sure I'll like it, but I trust him enough to pay $10 without hearing it. But it will be interesting to see what happens when he releases an album with some commercial potential on his own.

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