Trent Reznor Gives People A Reason To Buy Latest CD Even Though It's Free Online

from the keeps-showing-how-he-gets-it dept

It’s getting rather repetitive to show what a good job Trent Reznor is doing in showing how Nine Inch Nails is embracing the new business models available to the music industry, but he’s doing such a consistently good job of it, it’s so useful as an example. The latest move is that he’s now releasing his last album, The Slip, which was offered as a totally free download, as a special limited edition CD/DVD and deluxe vinyl. In other words, like he’s done multiple times in the past, he’s giving fans a reason to buy the physical media beyond just the music. In this case, it’s to get a numbered copy, limited to 250,000 that includes a ton of extras.

Sure, there will be plenty of people who don’t want it and are perfectly happy with just the music. And Reznor seems perfectly fine with that. However, other fans will want this unique package for themselves. Given how well Reznor has done with “limited edition” physical media, it seems quite likely that this will also be a huge success for Reznor. And, of course, we’re not even touching on all the money he’ll make from Nine Inch Nails concert gigs. So why do we have the music industry running around like crazy saying that if music is available for free no one can make any money?

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Comments on “Trent Reznor Gives People A Reason To Buy Latest CD Even Though It's Free Online”

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eleete (user link) says:


So why do we have the music industry running around like crazy saying that if music is available for free no one can make any money?

To act as a smoke screen and create a sense of panic to justify the actions THEIR pocketed politicians undertake. To justify the laws they are all over the world trying to enforce or introduce. To prop up their failing, outdated business model… There are many other reasons, a smart post once asked, what do we DO about it ?

Gino says:


I love Nine Inch Nails (and Trent’s enthusiasm for this business model.) I bought the CD version of his previous album (Ghosts I-IV) even though I could get it for free. In fact, I get most of my new music from less-than-legal sources and then proceed to buy the album if I like what I hear. I bought two just last week. I like supporting the band, and the physical packaging is usually pretty neat. (Especially NiN stuff.)

I wish more people would follow in Trent’s footsteps.

Mark (profile) says:

Recording not music

So why do we have the music industry running around like crazy saying that if music is available for free no one can make any money?

Hey Mike, can we be fair here? Its not the music industry saying they can’t make money with free music its the recording industry that can’t/won’t figure out a way to make money off of free. The musicians and touring elements seem to be figuring out the new business models, the record labels are just hanging on as long as they can.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Recording not music

It may be the recording industry that is in trouble, but they have convinced a lot of people (including musicians and politicians) to run around shouting that the music industry is dying.

I agree that there is a growing number of musicians starting to come around, but there are many others (U2, Metallica, Billy Bragg, etc…) who simply don’t get it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Recording not music

Actually the problem stems from the mentality in music that the record label owns the record and the band owns the tour.

There is a lot of cost associated with the recording end of the project, the distribution part, and unless the bands are willing to shoulder some of that it isn’t necessarily feasible to do the whole free thing. There is a lot of greys in the music business which will always be there until people no longer need to eat.

Here is the break down for most bands I know. Get a crappy record deal where the label takes a chance but wants the reward. The band goes on tour with some other bands and only get merch. That pays for the band to go from town to town on the tour, maybe some bills, but no money to pay the label. The band takes off after a couple crappy albums and then they go to a different label with a better contract leaving thier first label with the crappy albums and the cost of building the band up. Yes the band did the work, but without merch to sell to make it through the tour, and without albums to get thier music out there, the band would have just been like a band in the local bar… a nobody.

I am not saying that the RIAA isn’t wrong with dealing with things, but I am saying that the band needs to accept some of the responsiblity and cost to get thier music out there. Until then, there is no way to be a record label and stay in business.

snowburn14 says:

Re: Filling the need

Second Sourcer brings up a point that most of the anti-copyright rhetoric seems to miss. Technology is advancing (or already has in many areas) to the point where any amateur can create a copy of whatever the artist tries to use as a “scarce good” that is indistinguishable (for all practical purposes) from the real deal. While I support Trent’s new business model, I also recognize that it still requires some sort of copyright enforcement to work. If anyone can legally reproduce and distribute whatever he decides to actually charge for, there really won’t be a whole lot of purists who care whether it actually comes from Trent or not. Thus even this new business model boils down to the tip jar idea, which obviously isn’t terribly effective. Some form of copyright enforcement will still be necessary if we want to ensure artists can continue to make a living on the art alone.

recording says:

Is this then a question of

Wife loves Madonna, so the same day, i download it to have it where we can listen to it and buy it from amazon to keep the artist happy, or so she thinks. Problem is, i would prefer to give Madonna my 12.99 than pay amazon who then pays someone else and someone else through the label and then gives Madonna what 2.50 max? If Madonna could record in her garage and open a paypal account, I could have just sent her the money. After all the CD hasnt even been opened yet as we dont have a CD player handy in 90% of the places we play music.

The only part of this “business model” that still has a function is the recording and mixing and final “pressing” of music. If the artists could do this another way, then the BM is dead. No more need for the people who do nothing but take a cut. I feel bad for the guys that work in the studio, but thats it. The rest of the industry has always been a pain in the @##.

Anonymous Coward says:

Before giving Mr. Reznor the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for the internet distribution of NIN’s newest album, which many may view as an anti-copyright stance, it is useful to keep in mind that he has used copyright to stop the play of his music when he happens to disagree with how it is being used.

He is clearly “fan-centric” (and this is a good thing for fans), but it is also clear that he is not anti-copyright.

Joel Coehoorn says:

Artificial Scarcity

I don’t know… a limited, numbered copy sounds a lot like artificial scarcity. So either he’s limiting his market or artificial scarcity can be a good thing from time to time.

Perhaps what he’s really done is create a way to identify the _first_ print of the album. There can only be one first (or 250,000 of the first). It’s scarce by definition.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: Artificial Scarcity

Well, I’m not sure it’s really artificial scarcity, certainly not in the same way that something like DRM is. Yes, he could create more copies, but it takes effort to create those copies (as opposed to a case like DRM where extra effort is required not stop copies from being created).

The good in question here is by nature scarce (it’s physical). This isn’t scarcity being imposed on an infinite good (on the digital audio files).

I’m thinking out loud here a bit…

It seems to be like a passive/active difference. With limited edition albums, the physical goods are scarce and the limit is opposed through a lack of action — Reznor is only going to create so many and therefore the natural scarcity is left in place after a certain point. With artificial scarcity being imposed on infinite goods, it must be active; by nature, the goods are abundant, but effort must be actively exerted in an attempt to curtail that abundance and prevent additional copies.

Another Mike says:

Wasn't Me

“the only “problem” with this business model is that it only works for proven artists.”

I love the comments like that. When it is a big artist doing it they say it wont work for small artists, when it is a small artist doing it they say it wont work for big artists. Get a freaking clue!! This will absolutely work for small, medium, and big artists. But naysayers will be naysayers no matter what kind of proof you show them.

wasnt me (user link) says:

Re: Wasn't Me

dude did u read my whole post?
i said its good but not fool proof.

besides would you get a limited edition cd of music you downloaded for free from a random artist? I bet you wouldn’t, those artist will have to use other proven models like the “pay what you wish” i forgot who tried that.

once they prove them selves they might try the limited edition trick

Casey says:

Re: Wasn't Me

Not sure that you quite get what was said by wasnt me. The reason it only works for established artists is that if you, as a small-time band, release an album for free on the internet then release it for sale later, nobody has any idea of the quality of the stuff you produce. Whereas if a band like NIN or Tool did something like this, people would buy the album sight unseen before waiting for the album to even prove itself. The bigger more established bands have access to a far larger consumer base and have less to prove than a small-time band.

Joe Terranova (profile) says:

They take the Recording Industry out of the equation

So why do we have the music industry running around like crazy saying that if music is available for free no one can make any money?

The problem isn’t that nobody can make any money. The problem is that the recording companies aren’t able to make as much money as they’re accustomed to, and are generally getting cut out entirely.

Reznor will make out quite well from the albums he publishes himself — however, there will be far less revenue than a normal album release. This is fine, though — even if he makes 20% of the revenue he would with a normal release, he still makes out better than if the recording company was taking its 90% cut. Less money is being sent his way, but what’s going his way actually goes to him. That, and he already gets most of his money for tours and merchandising anyway. He’ll never feel the hit from the drop in album sales.

The problem isn’t that giving music away doesn’t work. The problem is that giving music away kills the record companies. The musicians make out fine.

Stuey (profile) says:

I may be wrong about this but I’m under the impression that if someone circulates a petition and that petition gets enough signatures then they can give it to their congressional representative and the representative is required to introduce this to congress and try to pass it as law. If this is true why couldn’t we petition the government to repeal the DMCA and stop all this nonsense? What would it take for people to force them to do this?

Night says:


>>So why do we have the music industry running around like crazy saying that if music is available for free no one can make any money?

It’s the record labels that have a problem. Their old business model lets them make money off crappy music. Rezor and NIN can use new business models because they offer quality content that targets and audience and piques the interest of everybody else. It’s a long term approach. Compare this to the record company that wants to squeeze as much money as they can out of me in the shortest time possible then introduce the next big thing. I grew tired of being squeezed a long time ago.

Devil's Advocate says:


“So why do we have the music industry running around like crazy saying that if music is available for free no one can make any money?”

No one will make money. It just happens to be that the “no one” they talk about is the major labels and all their goons.

Artists have been giving away their music for some time now and making perfectly decent incomes. Lyle Lovett hasn’t seen a dime from his record sales, yet he still manages to make a damn decent income (and of course, where do you think those “dimes” go?)

I know it was rhetorical, but sometimes it’s fun to answer rhetorical questions. 😉

Delicia says:


Looky what I have in my Inbox!

“A physical release of Nine Inch Nails’ The Slip will be available worldwide
in the upcoming days as a limited edition CD with bonus DVD through the Null
Corporation label. Release dates as follows…

Australia: July 19
Europe: July 21
US: July 22
Canada: July 22
Japan: July 22
UK: July 28

This CD with bonus DVD edition will be a one time only worldwide run of
250,000 individually numbered digipacks. Each digipack features a six-panel
layout, 24 page booklet and an exclusive three sticker set. Art direction
by Rob Sheridan.

The bonus DVD includes 5 live performances filmed during rehearsals for Nine
Inch Nails’ upcoming tour, including album tracks Echoplex, 1,000,000 and
Letting You.

A gatefold vinyl version of The Slip which contains one 180gm vinyl LP and a
24-page booklet will also be released in the US and Canada on August 12 and
in the UK on August 18.

The Slip, written and performed by Trent Reznor, with Josh Freese, Robin
Finck and Alessandro Cortini, has been downloaded 1.6 million times
worldwide since its online release on May 5, 2008.

NIN’s Lights in the Sky Tour opens in Pemberton, Canada on July 25, 2008
with support slots from Crystal Castles, Deerhunter, Does it Offend You,
Yeah and A Place To Bury Strangers. Visit for the
latest tour information.

To stop receiving these emails:

To unsubscribe, click on the below link:”

Will I buy? I dunno (I didn’t dig deep enough to find pricing). But based on the free music direct from the artist that he shared with me, after years of me supporting his efforts by purchasing his CDs and attending his concerts, my knee-jerk reaction was “FUCK YEAH!’

Pocketbook reality may put a kibosh on it, but as a consumer, I feel rewarded for bothering. I feel I’m CONSIDERED in the whole equation. That’s how you build a brand and that’s how you keep the loyal.

Mordeci Walfish says:

yeah and...

this might be relevant if NIN’s new album wasnt such weak sauce. A couple good tracks, but overall failure.

I think maybe limiting it to 250000 and charging a bit more could work in his favour though because there are certainly 250000 core fans who would buy anything trent makes.. he’s got the elixer for you, hah! take it!

ScytheNoire (profile) says:

The music industry doesn’t want to see artists do well without them, because it just goes to show how much they aren’t needed and how it’s all a matter of quality content and good business models.

Giving away his music for free is just a promotional tool to sell concert tickets, albums, shirts, and whatever else he might sell. It doesn’t hurt him one bit to give away the music, and it only brings in more fans, especially in a time when there is such an anti-establishment movement against the RIAA and MPAA.

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