Trent Reznor Continues To Show Different Ways To Connect With Fans

from the send-'em-on-a-treasure-hunt dept

Back when Trent Reznor was still signed to Universal Music, he tested out his own form of a promotional campaign for his latest album: he started hiding USB keys with songs off of the album in the bathroom at his various concerts. Fans would find the USB keys, bring them home and upload the songs -- making it into a huge event, generating much more interest around the album. Now that he's independent and testing out all sorts of interesting business model experiments, he's also doing plenty to connect directly to his biggest fans. Take, for example, this story in the LA Times about Reznor hiding concert tickets around Los Angeles, under rocks and in drainpipes, and then putting up coordinates and clues on the Nine Inch Nails website, sending fans racing across the city to see if they can find the free tickets. While it may be a little silly, it is yet another way for Reznor to build up a really loyal fanbase. He's making being a fan fun. Sure, it's not for everyone, but it's certainly adding value to the "true fans" that support Reznor.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Josh, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Go Trent!

    Trent has the right idea and always has. The industry is becoming 'keep up or get left behind' and Trent and NIN are setting the pace. Look back to the then-rare CD holder for the release 'Broken' in 1992, even then they were trying to make things interesting. They've got a proven track record.

     

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  2.  
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    james (profile), Jul 14th, 2008 @ 10:20am

    geocaching with rewards

    Beats just finding an ammo can with a log book in it!

     

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  3.  
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    some old guy, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 10:31am

    Masnick's Law

    This model only works for trent reznor because he is talented, charismatic and smart. This could never work for any of those no-talent hacks that the big labels love so much.

     

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  4.  
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    maniac in a speedo, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 10:39am

    Re: Masnick's Law

    You say that like it's a bad thing.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    Re: Masnick's Law

    Yeah, I'd hate to see all those two-bit bands shrivel up and die...

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    DS, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 10:56am

    Um, I'm not plugging anything in anywhere that I find in a public bathroom.

     

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  7.  
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    Greg, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 10:58am

    idea

    He could randomly include some cool extra stuff in paid downloads of his music. E.g. uh, locations of freebie tickets! :)

     

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  8.  
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    Parker, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 11:00am

    fan fun

    The great line in Mike's post is "he's making being a fan fun."
    That's why people become fans of bands (movies, artists, etc) - because they enjoy it. As soon as you make it difficult to enjoy (high prices, lawsuits, restrictive policies), people won't have fun anymore.

     

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  9.  
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    Parker, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    I would just for curiosity's sake.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re:

    Take it to the library.

     

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  11.  
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    some old guy, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 11:11am

    Re:

    Um, I'm not plugging anything in anywhere that I find in a public bathroom.

    So that's what it's like to use an insecure operating system. Thanks for the refresher, I havent had windows as my primary OS for almost 2 years now. It's awesome to not have to compute in fear.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 11:29am

    fun

    Are we having fun yet ?

    Great ideas will draw the interest of the public.

    Keep it going...................

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re:

    I would LOVE to know what you're running that you're so secure in your superiority. Just because your OS isn't as big of a target as Windows doesn't mean it's free of exploitable flaws.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    GeoNINCaching!

     

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  15.  
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    HowardNYC, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 1:05pm

    clever tricks...

    Q: is there anyone from NIN reading this page?

    I've been trying to get in touch with bands to see about arranging blood drives along the East Coast... this is a volunteer effort, due to the dangerously low levels of 'inventory'...

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    This is successful because it's Trent Reznor, not because of the business model. He's the part that brings the massive success to the table, not the method of delivery. He's already a well-known brand, so to speak. Free music is great if you're a teensy little band nobody has picked up, or a huge band that sells out stadiums. Not so hot for anyone in the middle where you can't quite quit your day job, where you haven't had a nation-wide radio hit. And rising gas prices have already begun to put a crimp on the touring of smaller bands.

    Condemning artists to a lifetime on the bus and/or making T-shirts will pretty much kill off certain types of bands, but will keep some graphic artists employed. Until folks start sharing vectorized graphics so you can make your own T-shirt at Cafepress for a pittance. So much for income from those $40 concert tickets. Some of my favorite bands never tour. BAM, so much for that.

    I'm no more of a fan of DRM than anyone else, and I think the RIAA pretty much sucks and should be replaced with something more reasonable. But not paying musicians to create music (but instead make T-shirts) and coders to create code (but instead sell coffee mugs) will lead to the production of great T-shirts and coffee mugs, not great music and code. Might as well value film-making by how much soda it makes the audience buy kids' toys for the inevitable product tie-in.

     

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  17.  
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    Riddler, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 1:17pm

    Re:

    Quote: "Um, I'm not plugging anything in anywhere that I find in a public bathroom."

    That's what disposable virtual machines are for..or Live CD's :-)

     

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  18.  
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    Music Man, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 1:33pm

    Nonsense!!

    I am just a musician. I create good music and expect people to pay for listening them. Why do I need to come up these ultra-smart ways to publicize myself??

    You bunch of freeloaders!!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    some old gy, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I would LOVE to know what you're running that you're so secure in your superiority. Just because your OS isn't as big of a target as Windows doesn't mean it's free of exploitable flaws.

    I'm not secure in my superiority, I am confident in my os's security. There's a big difference there. Nobody said OSX was perfect, but we OSX users dont have to live in fear of a USB drive.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Jim, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 2:12pm

    Re:

    This is the first "it won't work for the MIDDLE guys" argument I've seen. Masnick's law covers it not working for the big guy and or the little guy... the middle guy though?

    If the AC's post weren't so long it could almost be used in the encyclopedia as an example of a logical fallacy.

     

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  21.  
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    some old gy, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 2:26pm

    Re:

    Condemning artists to a lifetime on the bus and/or making T-shirts will pretty much kill off certain types of bands...

    Ya, see... That's actually one of the benefits.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    some old gy, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Nonsense!!

    I am just a musician. I create good music and expect people to pay for listening them. Why do I need to come up these ultra-smart ways to publicize myself??

    Because, we aren't willing to accept your terms. so either you accept ours, or you dont get paid at all.

     

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  23.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jul 14th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    Re:

    Free music is great if you're a teensy little band nobody has picked up, or a huge band that sells out stadiums. Not so hot for anyone in the middle

    Now that's awesome. Next we'll hear about how maybe it works okay for the small bands and the huge bands *and* the middle bands -- but not for the ones in the cracks in between.

    You keep making exceptions until you discover the exception is the rule.

    But not paying musicians to create music (but instead make T-shirts) and coders to create code (but instead sell coffee mugs) will lead to the production of great T-shirts and coffee mugs, not great music and code.

    Who said anything about not paying musicians to create music? We've said exactly the opposite. You absolutely should pay musicians to create music. But that doesn't mean you sell copies of the music -- you sell the creation of that music. Take a look at what Jill Sobule and Maria Schneider have done (and I'll note that Sobule probably fits much more into that "middle" category you insist this model doesn't work for).

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 2:58pm

    Paying for the creation of music ... so, let's see ... Pretend I'm a garage band. Totally unknown, aside from the time I played a bar mitzvah. I will post on someone's website "Pay me $10,000 to create an album." Not a lot of buyers on that. Jill Sobule, she's a known quantity. Not well-known, for sure, I've only heard one track aside from "The Secretive Life" and "I've Kissed a Girl." People will probably pay for Sobule to make music, but not an unknown artist. The hostage model fails for them.

    The worst problem with the whole issue is testability - everyone has hypotheses (you, me, everyone) about economics, but there's little experimental proof, with control groups and all. How would you, for example, prove that LadyTalk would sell more with free music than without? It's a toughie. No, not arguments - Aristotle argued that heavier objects should fall faster and everyone bought that for quite some time because nobody bothered to look for proof. I would love to be proven wrong and find out that people aren't basically greedy scum and that you can make it with a little fanbase.

    You might have a better chance convincing folks to change by using evidence, rather than hope. Right now, you're asking folks to accept, on faith, that this will work out for them at all stages. Labels and the RIAA suck, but it is a devil they know.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    DS, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Re:

    "So that's what it's like to use an insecure operating system. Thanks for the refresher, I havent had windows as my primary OS for almost 2 years now. It's awesome to not have to compute in fear."

    So, the urine coating, or possible dummy device (short circuts are fun!), are protected by your magical OS?

    Who freakin mentioned windows?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Antiheroine, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 6:41pm

    Re: bite down.

    Y'know what I like best about NIN? They don't refer to their fans as 'greedy scum'.

    I'll be buying their next album, but certainly not yours.

    Have fun starving on your own sense of importance.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    some old gy, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 7:52pm

    Re:

    Right now, you're asking folks to accept, on faith, that this will work out for them at all stages.

    Not at all. We are telling them the revolution is coming, and that there will be many casualties. They can choose to adapt and have a chance to survive, or they can choose to not adapt and the end will come quickly.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Lex, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    OSX!? AHAHAHAHHAAHAAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!!!!

     

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  29.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jul 14th, 2008 @ 10:25pm

    Re:

    Paying for the creation of music ... so, let's see ... Pretend I'm a garage band. Totally unknown, aside from the time I played a bar mitzvah. I will post on someone's website "Pay me $10,000 to create an album." Not a lot of buyers on that.

    Of course not. Because that's a dumb business model. No one will pay you that way.

    But, if you were to actually take the time to understand the model we're discussing, you would use various social networking sites to build up fan appreciation of your music. Do some local shows -- and then start small. Try to raise a much lower number to produce that first "scrappy" album. Then promote the hell out of that -- build up a large community, and charge more the second time around.

    Jill Sobule, she's a known quantity. Not well-known, for sure, I've only heard one track aside from "The Secretive Life" and "I've Kissed a Girl." People will probably pay for Sobule to make music, but not an unknown artist. The hostage model fails for them.

    Weren't you just saying that the model worked for small and big, but not middle. Then I give you an example of a middle artist using it, and suddenly it's "but it doesn't work for small artists."

    Yeah. Okay.


    The worst problem with the whole issue is testability - everyone has hypotheses (you, me, everyone) about economics, but there's little experimental proof, with control groups and all. How would you, for example, prove that LadyTalk would sell more with free music than without? It's a toughie


    It's just basic economics. You are adding an infinite resource to an economic pool. That will expand the pool. That's what infinite resources do. The trick is making sure you set up the right system (i.e., business model) to capture a piece of that expanded pool.

    I would love to be proven wrong and find out that people aren't basically greedy scum and that you can make it with a little fanbase.

    Well, your first problem is calling them greedy scum. Maybe if you started treating them right it wouldn't be such a struggle for you.

    You might have a better chance convincing folks to change by using evidence, rather than hope. Right now, you're asking folks to accept, on faith, that this will work out for them at all stages. Labels and the RIAA suck, but it is a devil they know.

    Which evidence is missing? We've pointed to plenty of evidence, big and small, showing that adding an infinite resource makes the economic pie bigger -- we've showed many examples (big, small and midsized) of bands putting it into practice. We've explained the exact mechanics of how to capture that larger pool.

    And yet you claim we're asking you to take it on faith?

    Some people just don't want to learn.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Eric, Jul 14th, 2008 @ 11:08pm

    Trent

    Now if only Nine Inch Nails would actually produce something that SOUNDS GOOD. I can't stomach anything he's done after Downward Spiral. Most appropriately named album ever.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 5:27am

    Re: Trent

    Funny: I don't really like anything he did before Downward Spiral...

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 5:51am

    It's sounds a lot like there's different kinds of "free" that are supposed to operate during a musician's (hopeful) lifecycle.

    Your headlines are basically "free free free." Maybe you could draw out exactly what kind of free you're supposed to be using when. Differentiate a bit.

    And Jill Sobule is not proof. She's one person. She's an anecdote. You know what they say that the plural of anecdote is? Well, it's not "data."

    What you need is a bunch of Jill Sobules. And not just doing it for one album. You can convince someone to do something for one album - will she do it again? Is it succcessful for a population? I'm not suggesting she have a gold-plated toilet or anything, just enough to "make a living." Do control groups.

    I'm basically skeptical. What you're doing is selling something - a product, Product B. Now, the customer has been using Product A and knows a lot of other people using Product A. They aren't crazy about it but they kind of know what to expect. You're selling this alternative method, Product B. The customer can clearly see the benefit - to you - but the benefit to them is quite a bit fuzzier. They don't get how Product B works. It's counterintuitive, and it's a big leap.

    Pretend you're "selling" this business model to musicians (which you are). They can see that the fans love free stuff (everyone loves free stuff), but they're not sure how that love of free stuff translates into getting their gas bill paid.

    That's why I suggest something besides handwaving economics and some anecdotes. Build a plan for them, back it up with some proof. Just quoting some basic economics doesn't prove squat - our recent economic stimulus check is an excellent example of something which, in theory, has an economic benefit that doesn't show up in the real world.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Antiheroine, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 9:51am

    Re: #32

    A further question might be how does anyone expect to hew to a standard of practice that is no longer functional? Is it to make everyone a criminal that likely cannot ever be prosecuted or adapt and utilize the current behavior - which is not that everyone's a criminal but is using technology as it exists?

    I buy my music, btw, always have. Call me crazy, but I do. A lot of people do. Getting started in an artistic career is no harder than it ever was (one could argue that the internet and P2P actually makes it easier). But I cannot buy music if I've never heard it. I won't hear it if someone keeps it under lock and key and cover charge and strangling law.

    Do you want to be heard or do you want to be paid? One needs to come before the other, and until then we all need to keep our day jobs.

     

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  34.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 15th, 2008 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    Your headlines are basically "free free free."

    You mean like this one?

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070919/230654.shtml
    "No One Ever Said Free Is The Business Model -- But It Absolutely Should Be A Part Of The Business Model"

    Or this one?
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20071214/034002.shtml
    "Once Again: No One Says That 'Free' By Itself Pays The Bills"

    Or this one?
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080522/1545021204.shtml
    "'Give It Away And Pray' Isn't A Business Model... But It Doesn't Mean That 'Free' Doesn't Work"

    No, I don't just talk about "free, free, free" but explain the business models and how to make money in rather great detail:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20030912/1032238.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles /20070503/012939.shtml

    It's tough to argue against strawmen.

    Once you've actually read what I wrote, then I'm more than willing to discuss. If you want to argue against what you think I wrote, then it's a waste of both of our time.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2008 @ 10:59am

    Re:

    I don't see how "use you music as a way to earn exposure and gain fame so that you can make more money on limited products, like concert tickets" is counter-intuitive. A musician with no fans makes no money.

     

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  36.  
    icon
    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jul 17th, 2008 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re: #32

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    hip hop beats man, Jul 31st, 2008 @ 1:23am

    indies connecting with fans with quality hip hop beats

    It would be nice if Indie hip hop and rap artist, and R&B;artist can get a REAL chance that allows them to get noticed. Indie is the way to go. This could be another step for the indie and the end of major labels. ITunes def helped as you can distribute like the majors. Already the production side is available. I get tracks and beats from :

    http://www.beatslocker.com

    and they are totally hit major sound and great quality hip hop and rap beats. That was never available before....So that side is covered where as before only the major labels had access to these producers.. I already have airplay and Uni has contacted me! But in the end it would be nice to stay indie and keep the cash...all that remains to conquer is promo and marketing.. distribution is even covered .... when that happens majors are truly over!

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    piano man, Jan 1st, 2010 @ 8:03am

    Man within the next ten years the music industry will be completely messed up youtube and facebook will dominate the market with Itunes, there is no more way to remove them...

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    piano instrumental, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 1:38am

    I disagree, the market will find a solution to use all these new things for their advantage and upcoming artists can profit more than ever from that. Just think about all the new Indy labels that need no more major distribution support to deliver their music.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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