alerts us to a nice profile in the New York Times all about Trent Reznor's path to accepting and embracing new music business models
. Reznor is still clearly experimenting, and certainly isn't convinced of anything in particular -- but does seem to recognize that he's heading in the right direction. There's nothing too much in the article that's surprising, but a few key points worth noting:
- It sounds like he's about to give away the software he used to distribute his last two albums online. Alleyne wonders if he'll open source it -- which would be nice.
"To release "Ghosts I-IV" and "The Slip" online Mr. Reznor found he needed software to distribute digital files, assemble databases and connect easily with other applications. That too will soon be available free. 'We've spent the money to make it,' Mr. Reznor said. 'Take it.'"
- He seems to have changed his mind on whether or not the Saul Williams/Niggy Tardust release was a success. As you may recall, he was originally "disheartened" about it -- though, Williams himself thought that disappointment was more just part of Reznor's "emo" act, or, more likely, just a natural reaction to someone who still remembers the old business model. Williams was thrilled with the results -- and it appears Reznor has come around to that viewpoint as well:
"At the time he called the project a failure, but he has reconsidered. 'The numbers of the people that paid for that record, versus the people that paid for his last record, were greater,' he said. 'He made infinitely more money from that record than he did from his other one. It increased his name value probably tenfold. At the end of the day, counting free downloads, it was probably five or six or seven times higher than the amount sold on his last record. I don't know how you could look at that as a failure.'"
- He's definitely still conflicted about the business models. This certainly goes back to what Saul Williams said about Reznor after his initial "disheartened" comment, noting: "I think Trent's disappointment probably stems from being in the music business for over 20 years and remembering a time that was very different, when sales reflected something different, when there was no such thing as downloads.... Trent comes from that world. So I think his disappointed stems from being heavily invested in the past."
That very much appears to be reflected in this statement: "I don't agree that it should be free, but it is free, and you can either accept it or you can put your head in the sand." You can also hear some worry about the idea that music acts to promote something else: "Now I have to sell T-shirts, or I have to choose which whorish association is the least stinky. I don't really want to be on the side of a bus or in a BlackBerry ad hawking some product that sucks just so I can get my record out. I want to maintain some dignity and self-respect in the process, if that's possible these days."
That ambivalence about how he doesn't think it should be free, but since it is, he'll go with it, is understandable, given his background in the industry and his attachment to the old model. It's tough to "forget" the way things were. However, hopefully, over time, as he has more and more success with these new business models, he'll realize that things are often better when the music is free (for him, as well as his fans), and using music to sell something else doesn't mean "selling out" or getting involved in some "whorish association" hawking products he doesn't like. He's already realized this implicitly, as his last two experiments have involved having the music sell scarce goods, such as limited edition CD/DVD/box sets and concert tickets.