Monday, March 03, 2008

NIN from the great beyond

I was extremely surprised to wake up this morning and see the following thread title on the Something Awful forums: "New Nine Inch Nails album materializes out of the aether".

In case you haven't heard: Over the weekend, Trent Reznor dropped a two-disc Nine Inch Nails album completely without warning. Entitled "Ghosts I-IV", it's a four-volume, two-CD set of instrumental-only tracks. The entire first volume, "Ghosts I", was uploaded to popular BitTorrent sites accompanied by request that filesharers buy the other three volumes if they enjoy the first one. $5 entitles you to a DRM-free download of all four volumes, while $10 scores you a physical copy (there are also $70 and $300 signed special editions for die-hard fans).

In my opinion, it's a fucking genius move. A big-name band ditches its record company, releases a new album completely out of the blue, shares a sizeable portion for free on the Internet, and doesn't attempt to gouge buyers with ridiculous record company prices. Granted, it's not an entirely original concept -- Radiohead released "In Rainbows" for the ambiguous price of "it's up to you" late last year -- but to do it with no advance warning and no record company support at all ("In Rainbows" was released through normal retail channels two months after its Internet debut) is extremely ballsy.

My main worry is that even considering the band's openness toward the filesharing community, the album is going to be pirated. A lot. Given Reznor's disappointment with the treatment that his Saul Williams collaboration, "Niggy Tardust" received, I hope that he continues to forge ahead with his industry-independent business strategy.

I'll definitely be dropping $10 on the new album. If enough fans purchase "Ghosts I-IV", other artists will take notice -- and hopefully recognize this as a new and viable way to distribute their music.


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