Nine Inch Nails founder Trent Reznor has become the latest recording artist to bypass the traditional music distribution machine by releasing a 36-track album over the internet. The album, titled Ghosts I-IV, is available on the band's official website for prices that range from free to $300 depending on the package. Reznor is …
I followed the viral release of Year Zero ( NIN last album ) and it was interesting to say the least - it rivals LOST in its complexity http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Zero_%28album%29
When i saw them at Manchester it was common knowledge that the tracks were being leaked by the band leaving USB's at gigs ... the guitarist was stood near the bogs with a bouncer and i KNEW that they were gonna plant a USB there , but didnt wanna seem like a stalker and Ladytron were playing . Then , When i got home the first video had leaked - Survivalism - Mannnnnnnn i was so close to that USB its untrue and now ....well ...its gone forever ....
Still , Maybe what should have also been noted is the fact that before todays release the posting on NIN.com linked to a story regarding NIN's old label going into administration ...Double hit back at the Industry 'tards....
Reznor's a genius, the RIAA a joke
This follows onto his interview in the Sydney Morning Herald about 4 months ago where he made is painfully clear his intention was to fsck the record companies. He went so far as to tell readers where to go on BitTorrent to grab the previous new album and stitch the execs. Reznor's clearly experimenting with ways to increase his take home pay, as Courtney Love wrote online in 2000 for how little musicians get. Good on you Mr. Reznor -- well done!
OK, I'm in
Not so much of a NIN fan, perhaps, but I'll pop $5 to encourage the distribution model - and the "music industry" isn't getting a penny of it, it's all for the artists.
But I may wait a few days to let the download Zerg settle out a bit.
Someone who is taking the idea of internet music distribution seriously.
This effort ticks all the boxes - high quality, no DRM, sensible pricing and lots of content. As well as giving people the option to buy the physical item, too.
It's a package that actually respects the individuals buying the content, instead of labelling them all as potential criminals, like DRM seems to do.
Hats off to Trent. (I might buy this for $5, even though I dislike NiN, just to support this kind of venture).
if you had actually opened your wallet and seen him at the horden, you would have heard him tell you to download it
Makes no sense for individuals to try to serve large files whose demand may spiky.
Don't care about the extra content
But I gave my money regardless, I like what they are doing.
Embracing BitTorrent indeed
Well, there's a /. discussion on it, and someone recommended The Pirate Bay, so I did a search and got the download(s). When I opened it up there was a readme with this as the first line:
"This torrent is an official upload from Nine Inch Nails."
Im in,these guys tend to know what they're doing.
18% chose the paid option... that's pretty good!
If 18% of people visiting their site to get their music choose a pay option - and if that scales - that's indeed a very good indication a profitable business model can be found going forwards.
Good luck to them. :)
Such a pity
It is such a pity that nin are a petulant bunch of whiners, just like their pasty faced fans. I'd rather download a recording of a 3 year old throwing a tantrum in a supermarket.
Reznor - that name sounds familiar. He wrote the music for a couple of video games, right?
I take it this Nine Inch Nails is a band of some sort - hope that's going well for him and that this distribution thing proves successful.
In terms of what Trent was trying to achieve (grease up and fsck the music industry), an article in a mass-distrubuted paper like the SMH is better than telling a few hundred/thousand people at a gig - especially when half of them would either be too drunk or stoned to comprehend what he was saying.
the problem is that this is only going to work for him because he is an inovator and a lot of people, as written here, will be happy to spend $5 just to push the business model, or try and help a new world order. that sort of thing.
this is not a business model that would work. if all artists did this, then few people would pay, because it is no longer special. and you would be in a similar situation to where you are now, where everybody tries to get everything for free, as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
in essence, people dont value music or film at the same rate that the producers of it do. a really new business model needs to be created for a whole industry to keep going. and people are leaving themselves little choice by all their bittorrenting, that one of the only sure ways to keep music and film as an industry will be to pump it full of money-generating google-ads or something, like US cable TV.
in the meantime, hats off to the guy for trying to inovate, and i hope he makes a stack of cash from people before the bubble bursts. anyway, i have to stop writing now as i need to be surfing isohunt for the latest movies and music to download that i dont really want to listen to or watch.
Got it - eventually
The model I think is sound, a free version (a teaser so to speak), and different versions, which are chargable. He got my $5, and it goes direct - something that a lot of fans like. Ghost I, for people who got the free version, I'm sure will be left wanting,
Now that The NIN webteam know how much bandwidth they need for a release.
It's still early days for this model and I thank Trent Reznor for getting involved.
Can I just clarify something here? Without a recording industry absolutely nobody would have the faintest idea who Nine Inch Nails are.
Now that they're popular(ish), they can bite the hand that fed them their success, but who's gonna find the Next Big Thing and work to bring their work to our attention? Who's going to figure out which bands are good enough for people to want to buy their stuff? For those who haven't realised, THIS is the factor that make the difference between 'another band' and 'The Next Big Thing'.
Yes the recording industry needs to get up to date but without it we'll all drown in the vast quantities of trash available online without a filter to organise it.
That filter is 'Which band is good enough to buy?'.
Even Paris could figure that out.
have been offering their stuff for download for years, albeit at just below their normal CD price for 256Kbps mp3. They seem to be making money from it as well. They also have a novel way of financing (som of) their albums - people pay for them up front and get their name in the sleeve notes. I think for Marbles, in 2004, there were 15,000 people mentioned.
Would it really be so hard for them to put the free stuff on a different server so the paying customers get decent service?
This isn't rocket science.
Not only good news then for the fans who are suddenly getting 2 albums in a year, but also for the FU to the record industry.
It also seems Trent was pretty quick in dropping HD-DVD, seeing there is only a BluRay in the deluxe package ;)
@thomas k: he did the music for Quake 1 (which explains the Nail gun and the NiN logo on the nail-ammo boxes) and Ghosts actually is a bit like that. More ambient soundscapes, with some harsh moments. It will be a relieve to Seán then that there are no vocals on Ghosts, which tends to cut back on any whining.
The only nitpick I have is that the shipping costs of the physical packages to Europe is 'a bit steep' ($50 for the deluxe, and $70 for the Uber package).
Given the current exchange rates, that should equal about 2 packs of cigarettes.
Way to go Trent.
Wonderful! We need more of this, cutting out the parasitical middle man gets my support every time. I am hoping that all musicians, I mean musicians, not mime artists and producers' sock puppets adopt this approach to music distribution.
Petulance? Thank you for exemplifying this in your comment. I can only imaging one is pissed at having to pay full price for Westlife and Sugarbabe drivel.
Any known artist can make money from their music this way. Maybe not the untold millions they could from what the sex pistols told us 30 years ago was 'the great rock and roll swindle' but a good return on their efforts. After all should writing a half decent pop song entitle you mansions round the world and a private jet?
New artists are obviously going to require a platform of some sort but not one which is controlled by an industry whose only concern is 'how can we get the most for giving the least'.
I for one welcome a world where people like talentless self publicist Simon Cowell can become rich by hanging on the coat tails of those who actually create something.
Critisism of radiohead
What's the little quip about radioheads download being pointless due to only being 160kbps mp3.
I'd be surprised if the author can really identify by listening the difference between 160/320 or lossless formats.
Didn't work for me
I bought the $10 version and the download constantly stopped after about 200k. Repeated attempts to download it brought the "download limit exceeded" message, and my email to the NIN store (following the "if you have problems with your download" link) have so far not produced a response. Gutted. Hope it is resolved soon.
Trent Reznor - A true innovator
As I understand it,Trent Reznor is NIN, that is he writes the music and then creates it by himself, playing all the instruments and mixing the tracks himself. He only 'uses' fellow musicians to play live, where he obviously cannot play all the instruments simultaneously!
His music has always been innovative and to me he seems now to be just as innovative in the way he gets his music to his fans, as he is in creating it.
Some may not of heard of him, but anyone who has ever been to a club that plays 'industrial' type music (e.g Friday's at the Electric Ballroom - Camden) would of been hearing his work since 1988-89. As such much of the promotion of his work has always been 'viral', or in other words pretty much little thanks to his record company.Lots of his work has also been used in film & TV, e.g. Natural Born Killers etc. (check out IMDB), but due to the type of music it is and its appeal.
I think he will be just as successful now as he has been in the past, just with more creative control and seeing a greater return from people who like his music. I think anyone who makes music people actually like, should take note and could do the same.
For someone smart enough to put up the free tracks on torrent, I'm surprised it didn't occur to him to put the paid-for stuff on a private tracker instead of trying to handle all the bandwidth himself.
BTW, I kindof like Ghosts I, sounds like great BG music for coding :)
Re: NINNY Who?
"Who's going to figure out which bands are good enough for people to want to buy their stuff? For those who haven't realised, THIS is the factor that make the difference between 'another band' and 'The Next Big Thing'."
Bullshit. Record companies don't look for what's good, they look for what they can market. If you need proof, look at the singles chart and look at the album chart. The former is what the labels would like to deal with, the latter is something they have to put up with because people still know how to choose music for themselves in spite of all the marketing. The whole concept of "The Next Big Thing" is part of the problem with the major labels in that artists are treated like a consumable commodity. Wring as many songs/rights out of them as possible pay them as little as possible and then move on to the next victim.
"Yes the recording industry needs to get up to date but without it we'll all drown in the vast quantities of trash available online without a filter to organise it."
You muppet. It's the record industry that's pumping out the shit that makes it hard to find quality music. If you want a filter, try a radio station, the last thing you should do is ask a label to be that filter. That's like asking a car salesman to tell you which car would be best for you to buy - will they sell you what's best or what gives them the most commision?
[[[ Can I just clarify something here? Without a recording industry absolutely nobody would have the faintest idea who Nine Inch Nails are.
Now that they're popular(ish), they can bite the hand that fed them their success, but who's gonna find the Next Big Thing and work to bring their work to our attention? ]]]
Wow! Are we really that brainless? I know that we have become addicted to the jollop dealt out by the big boys, but are we really that convinced that we can't do without their benign dictatorship? Time was when we had DJs, friends, local venues etc etc to find stuff we liked. We still do, but their job seems to have become a shedload easier. Now, it seems, they just do what they are told by the big media companies. And the result of this brave new world? Complete PAP that's driving the younger generation to buy up back catalogues of 70s and 80s rock bands; Led Zep, Floyd etc.
Anything new and innovative is a risk. Corporations don't like risks. They're far happier stacking the odds by putting together the "Perfect Band"; right look, right songwriters, right sound. The humanoids in the band itself might just as well be CGI, like in the film.
We know the power of "The Viral". We have the means of reproduction. All that is needed is an easy to use sales model that a new band can use to host the monetising section of their overall operation. Hopefully NiN can help work out what this looks like. I'm off to buy a copy. I haven't heard it yet, but I like a lot of their stuff, so $5 doesn't seem like to much for a punt. Wow again. Just like the old days. The price of a single was just little enough to be "Worth a Punt". What goes around, comes around eh :)
Only 18% or 18% wow
Why do we have to report this negatively?
So 18% of people paid at least $5. If this continues and total downloads equal 5 million worldwide (which is easily acheivable given the worldwide market he is selling to).
Then he will receive a minimum of $4.5million.
Secondly 82% of people who downloaded have been exposed to his music as potential future customers. Would they have bought the CD in a shop? Of course not. But now a small percentage may purchase the fuller version or perhaps a future release.
Now that proves this is a viable business model for artists, just not for record companies.
Good work fellas.
It's all about price
If the price is low enough, then the hassle factor (and possible getting-cut-off) of piracy becomes the bigger issue. $5? £2.60? There's a *lot* of music buyers who'd spring for that as an impulse purchase.
"...Without a recording industry absolutely nobody would have the faintest idea who Nine Inch Nails are.
"...who's gonna find the Next Big Thing and work to bring their work to our attention? Who's going to figure out which bands are good enough for people to want to buy their stuff?"
Teh Intarwebnet. Anyone can publish. Word gets round. Or at least that's the hope. And maybe some good bands that don't fit the preconceptions of some A&R wonk will actually get a break this way. Or at least be able to make a living.
"...without it we'll all drown in the vast quantities of trash available online ...."
As opposed to drowning in the vast quantities of trash the record companies try and foist on us for unjustifiable prices.
"That filter is 'Which band is good enough to buy?'."
If you use that filter, then none of the bands currently producing content is good enough to buy, because they're all being downloaded. Also, you'll find that that filter is heavily biased by the amount of money the marketing departments spend on a given bunch of talentless nerks with "individualistic" hairdos and perfect teeth.
Its the shareware model...
Once, they used to make games that gave a few initial levels for free (or apps with the basic functions), and then one had to pay a smidge of cash for the rest. Fact is though, it was quite a popular method for working out what one wished to pay for.
Shame the old model is a shadow of it former glory, with the twin forces of FOSS and Big Business capitalism polarising the market, but it may ... just ... work in this new incarnation!
The fact that it's killed their servers shows it's been more popular than they expected. Would be interesting to know what volume of traffic they forecast and what they received.
Wtf? As a kid, every record I ever bought was recommended through friends. Today, a lot of music knowledge seems to come from recommendations; see MySpace, etc. How the hell does the recording industry influence my musical tastes? They can advertise as much as they like and I'll ignore them as I do all adverts. Word of mouth and playing warm up at another band's gig - these are the advertising models for (non-manufactured) music. Go back to your pop.
Bring the discs round to mine and i'll tell you the difference between the 160/320/Lossless and the CD on my hifi.... not all of us have a JVC micro system you know.
have to agree with dave harris...
All credit to Trent with the online contribution, but Marillion has had the rest of the business model sorted for quite some time.
Even if I didn't know them..
At that price I'd be willing to "give them a try". I used to do that, back in the day when record stores had more-reasonably-priced music and a decent selection - before it was £15 an album / "you may select from this approved list of cloned artists".
If the concept takes off, I'd be willing to pay £2.50 to sample a lot of bands. If I like em, I'd buy more of their work. If I don't, I delete the tracks and I've lost less than the price of a pint. I won't, however, go into HMV or wherever and spring £15+ on the off-chance that I might like someone, the way I'd try a tape/LP when I was a kid.
As it is, I've liked NiN for years, so I'll be springing for some of this once the initial frenzy dies down and they increase the availability.
Without a record industry
To whoever it was above who stated that nobody would know who NiN are without an industry, yes you're right.
I have been a fan since his first release, and if it wasn't for TVR and Island and his own psuedo label Nothing I would never have heard them.
That does not however give the labels the right to violate their contracts as they have done in Trent Reznor's own well documented suites and cases against the relevant labels.
You certainly don't expect that when you sign to a small indipendant label that in 6 months time they will sell themselves to a major and your ass with it!
It happens all the time, there are only 3 Record labels in the entire world. Almost all others are owned or distributed by these 3 conglomerates.
It is just like when Mushroom, One Hut, and Little Indian got bought by Infectious then Virgin bought Infectious. Every artists got royall screwed over.
I think it is brilliant, I have always stated as a musician myself that self release is the best way to go if what you are doing you care about and money is not so important, fortunately for Mr Self Distruct he is sat on a sensibly fat bag of cash so can get away with.
Re: the problem
So "the problem" is that people will only pay good money for quality stuff?
That's only a problem if you think you suck as an artist, surely.
Goodluck to Reznor
Firstly I will point out that the artists are paid an advance that covers all recording, packaging, video and promotional costs. This is then paid back from the pitiful royality rates that the artists are paid.
The record company who claims the lions share of the keeps all that money as profit. This in turn leaves the band/artist in debt to the record company. The majority of bands break up and go back to working on the building site, allowing the companys to hang on to the profits while the ex members fight with each other about who got the money.
Additionally the record industry dislike even paying the artists their royalitys and payments often come in over 10 years late. For every recording artist with a Porche theres 20 record company execs with Ferraris.
I would suggest that anybody who claims that the Music Biz does anything for artists read Roger McGuinns (founder of the Byrds) presentation to the US congress @ http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2005/03/is_there_an_ups.html
Or search for Andy Partridges (of XTC) experience of the record companys deliberately not even paying the pitiful royalitys owed to the bands
Any artist signed to a record company will tell you a similar story. I want the majority of the money I pay for an artists material to go to the artist as they are the ones that do the work and take the risks.
Any artist that makes money usually makes it from the broadcast and publishing rights.
"you always were the one to show me how..."
Way back when (circa 1993-5, haha) I worshiped Trent as a musical genius... Around that period I bought four copies of PHM (my favourite album) due to constantly having it bumped/given away at parties or what have you... Now in 2008 I find myself having not financially supported him as an artist or having cared for his music in over a decade; yet with this model, I am springing for the deluxe package just because it's the way to go... and of course, for a bit of musical nostalgia :)
The quality debate
160/256/320 or lossless? On a PC through cheap speakers via an integrated sound chip most would be pressed to tell the difference. Invest in a decent HiFi and one can't help but tell the difference, even between vinyl and CD, vinyl masters and regular pressings.
I listen to a great deal of music in my car, and I can tell the difference between different bitrate mp3 and CD audio, I use a mid-range after market head unit, stock speakers and a sub, nothing particularly fancy or expensive. The difference is marked, even bouncing over our potholed roads.
Bands promoting themselves via the interweb thingy.. If they have good product the word will spread. OK, somewhat slower than would be achieved by the media moguls throwing out adverts. However, this will sort those who want celebrity and use music to make a quick dollar whilst being shafted by the corps, from those who make music because they have something to say, and/or make music for the sheer love of it. Much of the greatest music I have ever heard has come from unsigned bands.
@ Steve.. Re:Ninny who. Well said.
Getting 200KB/s download speed so it's not so bad.
File is 283MB for the MP3 format.
I can't believe people have never heard of NIN!
Bosh, done, etc.
Read the article on my iPhone on the bus, paid $5 by paypal on the train, arrived at work with the email link, downloaded as Apple Lossless.
This is how simple it should be.
ps. The $300 version sold out.
"Who's going to figure out which bands are good enough for people to want to buy their stuff? For those who haven't realised, THIS is the factor that make the difference between 'another band' and 'The Next Big Thing'."
Tsk tsk you just don't get it do you.
Artist - Someone who enjoys playing/singing, etc, and wants to get their work out there, and hopefully get some money for it, but the money isn't the important part
Recording Company - Don't care about the artist, or the consumer, and just want money.
Hopefully Trent Reznor can promote this method of distribution more and we can see other bands and singers using this method. Its how many smaller artists are doing it now and some are having success. Lilly Allen started on Myspace and built up a following there and then broke the mainstream.
The best way really would be one or a few central music repositories of artists where any artist/band can upload their songs for purchasable download. It will allow more people to be recognised. The only problem is the costs for the hardware and bandwidth. Perhaps some minor charge on top to cover the hardware/bandwidth costs so no monthly subscription is required. So you can basically just turn up, choose what you want, pay for it, and download it :)
"Nine Inch Nails experiment is a lot easier to take seriously. That's because Reznor has made the album available in both lossless and high-bit rate formats. Radiohead's In Rainbows, by contrast, came as only a 160 kbps MP3, which hardly seemed worth the time it took to download it."
And CD and Vinyl were also available from the site at a cost of £40 (not too far off the $75 that Trent is charging for his mid-range product). So you are wrong - it wasn't "only" released as a 160kbps MP3.
"Oh, and the album is no longer available as an online download. Radiohead singer Thom Yorke later dismissed a net-only album paradigm, saying people want to buy a tangible object rather than a download. Makes you wonder why Britain's favorite navel gazers bothered in the first place."
Apart from the fact that the album sales vindicated Thom Yorke's decision to release the album in the stores, let's compare this to the next statement:
"And just in case this net distribution thing doesn't take off, Ghosts I-IV is also available as a regular CD in retail stores."
Makes you wonder why Trent bothered in the first place? No, it makes me wonder why you bothered writing this junk Dan.
Dan, you're obviously not a fan of Radiohead and obviously a fan of NiN. I personally am a fan of both yet don't appreciate seeing your prejudice here attempting to taint the views of others. I wonder what your motivation is as you seem more interested in decrying Radiohead's efforts than reporting objectively.
Radiohead did what they did. I applaud them for it. Trent has just done this, obviously influenced in some part by Radiohead and learning from the feedback that Radiohead got over their distribution method, he has improved on it and I applaud him for it. Why do you choose to state that what Radiohead did was somehow wrong?
I'll quote The Strangler's (who never gave an album away online): You're brain's exposed and it's starting to show your rotten thoughts yeuch.
More facts and less subjective opinion in future please Dan.
Thumbs up for poor artists
More Freetards advocating poverty as a lifestyle. Sheesh -
>> "We know the power of "The Viral"
Yes, it's the best marketing strategy to take if you want to stay completely obscure. Or are a hobbyist, and don't care.
The first thing that bands who've gained a "viral" following on the Internet do is sign a record contract.
Why do you think that is?
Listening to it now
Just paid my $5 = £2.50!! for 36 tracks. Downloaded at my 260 kb/s limit. Sounds very experimental and good so far. Here comes track 5......
....well done Trent.
He da man
Trent Reznor, YOU ARE DA MAN! You have my $5 and I'm feeling guilty for getting 36 tracks of FLAC for a lot less than the price of a pint, so when the vinyl comes out I'll be getting that too.
THIS is the future of music distribution, anyone can afford $5 for a clean, simple download and putting it out lossless or high bitrate is the kind of quality this guy deserves so much respect for.
Rick Rubin, listen up. Ditch columbia or force them to run with this, you have no choice, you will be assimilated :) And Slayer, you run with the same plan and I will NEVER support the conventional means of music distribution again.
Oh...and the NIN site works 100% with konqueror, and on a little 800x600 screen too :)
I'm still feeling guilty for only paying $5, a few not-in-yer-face checkboxes for an extra few dollars to a few charities wouldn't (in my opinion) be in any way out of order, or maybe an extra dollar for an interview vidio etc.
My god, if this keeps up I'm going to have to start respecting America again ;)
As I say every time someone says the "you need record companies to get known"
Arctics disprove this overwhelmingly.
Will look at this, possibly impulse buy. People don't hear tracks because of the record industry, they hear them because of word of mouth, through friends, through radio. On that note, check out my mate's band bandsideproject on myspace :)
Also, I hate being pedantic on the tubes, but confusing suite with suit makes me giggle.
Making money from music
"Any artist that makes money usually makes it from the broadcast and publishing rights"
Actually many artists that make money make it from performing. There's this myth that record sales are the only way to make money. But remember that record sales go through the band's label, whereas performance profits go straight to the band in most cases (unless the label is fronting the money for the tour). This is particularly true for bands who don't have an army of international fans buying their CDs.
And as much as I hate record companies, it certainly is true that anyone of any ability can record something and post it on Myspace. Give someone a PC, a cheap mic and a cheap audio interface, and they reckon they can compete with Trevor Horn. Some of them can. Most of them can't. For demos, this kind of quality is fine, but you wouldn't expect to pay for demo-quality material. And that's just recording quality - the quality of songwriting, arrangement and performance is another matter again.
Does Myspace act as a platform for talent? Yes, to some degree. But it also acted as a platform for whiny untalented chavs like Lily Allen and Kate Nash. Cream does rise to the top, sure - but turds float too.