Trent Reznor's Latest Trick: Reward High Scorers In NIN iPhone Game

from the keep-evolving dept

One of the things to understand when we talk about various business model innovations that companies can use, is the idea that successful implementation of these business models doesn’t mean merely copying what someone else did, but continuing to come up with new ideas and new innovations. One of the common retorts to this, often found in our comments, is that if everyone’s doing x then it loses all value. But, of course, that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what we’re advocating. The whole point is that everyone doesn’t do x, but they keep innovating and doing different things. And, for those who claim that there really are only so many things you can do, I’ll point you to the words of economist Paul Romer:

Every generation has perceived the limits to growth that finite resources and undesirable side effects would pose if no new recipes or ideas were discovered. And every generation has underestimated the potential for finding new recipes and ideas. We consistently fail to grasp how many ideas remain to be discovered. The difficulty is the same one we have with compounding: possibilities do not merely add up; they multiply.

Or, even better, I’ll just point you to the example of Trent Reznor, who, despite being quite far ahead of the pack on many attempted business models, doesn’t seem to want to rest on his laurels. Instead, he just keeps innovating. We’ve covered many of the business model innovations made by Trent Reznor over the last few years (and I’m actually preparing a presentation on the topic for a music industry conference next year — which I’ll be talking about more in the future). His latest is to embrace the iPhone game Tapulous, which is sort of a rather simplified iPhone version of any “push a button to the beat” music game, a la Guitar Hero or Rock Band today (or Dance Dance Revolution in the past).

Now, the easy (boring) thing to do would have been to just create a Nine Inch Nails version of the game, which is now available. You can now play Tapulous to various songs from NiN’s recent albums (whose releases we’ve discussed previously). However, much more interesting is tying the game even further to the band, such that those who score a certain level of points can submit the score back to Tapulous, and get entered into a contest to win floor tickets to see NiN perform or, for one lucky winner, a Les Paul guitar signed by Trent Reznor.

Despite the fact that many would say that Reznor has done much more innovating than many other musicians these days, the important thing to note is that he keeps on trying new stuff — and each time gets more attention and wins over more fans with his actions. And the folks who complain that no new business model will work because everyone will be doing it? They’re not getting much attention at all.

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Companies: tapulous

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Comments on “Trent Reznor's Latest Trick: Reward High Scorers In NIN iPhone Game”

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Anonymous Coward says:

All this to get people to download his music for free? Why work so hard for so little reward? Again, if people are getting the music free, how is he going to make money? Oh, give away the infinite 1’s and 0’s to sell finite concert tickets. Since artists today have two sources of income, album sales and concerts, they will need to charge more for the concerts to make up for the loss of album sales. This helps the consumer how? I guess non-concert goers get free music, but concert goers pay through the nose.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Nothing, but people still paid. Maybe it was convenience? Moral choice? Ignorance of torrent sites? Fear of legal repercussions? Supporting the artist? As you can see, people paid, and NIN doesn’t seem to mind so much why? From what I read about the band, they would rather you have the music for free than never hear it at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

At the last concert I was at in Philly, he told everybody to pirate his music and that he doesn’t care about selling it anymore.

There are also other finite goods. I purchased the ultra deluxe edition of Ghosts I-IV. I purchased the deluxe edition of this *free* album.

You don’t need to appeal to the millions… just *really* appeal to a few thousand fans and you’ll be set.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ah, your reading comprehension astounds me. Did I not say that concert goers will pay through the nose? So in fact I did see that. I also pointed out how that narrows the number of people who will get to see a concert as many people would not be able to afford the price.

But then again, once Obama has redistributed the wealth, everyone will be equal and we can all go to the concert. 😉

interval says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So your solution is… clamp down, corrupt congress further (or other gov. body of nation of your choice) into doing your bidding, employ useless drm, and treat your customers as criminals because your still locked into thinking of bits and bytes as a commodity, which is a dead business model? The idea that you can peddle air and treat it as a commodity is over. Come to grips with it. Reznor appears to have fully come to grips with this simple fact and doing rather well.

This same crap went down with recording tape. You need to get your brain out of that trench.

another mike says:

it’s amazing how many businesses don’t get this simple concept. if everyone else in the market is charging for free, you can give away free and charge for something else, anything else at this point, and you will get credit just for doing it different. and turning insane profits all the while is just frosting.

good on trent for continuing to mix it up. you see what’s happening don’t you? even if an experiment doesn’t make money he still gets his name in the paper. he’d probably get even more press going broke on one of these from all the naysayers coming around shouting about how that’s proof that giving away free doesn’t work.

i had another thought about the next person to try one of these variations getting called either a copycat or an incompetent manager based on how much money they make at it compared to how much trent made first. the only way to get ahead in the press will be to turn a profit on one of these that trent lost money on.

there’s so many horses in this race that even last place is still pretty good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey, I thought he was giving away his music! Now he expects people to pay $5 for a game that is normally free when all he is doing is bundling it with free songs?

Maybe the reason he seems so “innovative” is that he is trying to find a way to continue to earn a living since he gave away the music he could have sold. Those limited edition box sets were a great idea to get a lot of money up front but if they are truely “limited edition” you can’t continue making them.

Maybe he can come up with an entire line of products, I know he can sell nine inch long nails in a box. Or maybe he could write a self help book, “Giving Away Your Music: Attempting to Make Money From FREE” Regardless, by giving away his music he has forced himself to become an inventor. Why couldn’t he just be a musician?

Mike, I challenge you to find new ways of making money from this site. No more ads, find a new way to make money from this site. Sell Mike Massnick action figures, create a line of TechDirt snack foods, anything. You constantly preach about alternative business models, lets see you practice what you preach.

NO MORE ADS on the site. If you can make a successful run of it, then maybe you deserve to speak at “a music industry conference”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I fail to see any actual rational thought in your post. Plus, if you did research, TechDirt DOES make money doing other services. Also, the problem with music is finding a way to make money in a world that the cost of music is free (infinite goods divided by negligible costs = $0 per song). He is a musician. No one ever said a musician has to sell CDs or just their music. He sells concert tickets, limited editions, or just deluxe editions (don’t have to be limited) that come with extras, he does stuff that his fans want. I’ve been a huge fan for over a decade and love the extras. He’s appealing to his fans. Whats wrong with him trying to make his fans happy. They put him where he is, now he’s trying to give back.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

Re: Re:

Ummm…he does give away all this content for free. He makes some money from advertising…some from consulting. I know, I have never paid anything to Techdirt or even clicked through on any ads (can’t see them anyway, thx AdBlock). But he is giving his content away for free while making money on advertising. See how free works in this instance.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re:

“Those limited edition box sets were a great idea to get a lot of money up front but if they are truely “limited edition” you can’t continue making them.”

Nope, but he can make more music, and do another limited edition set with the new music. Besides, a $750,000 sellout in a few days on an album for which the band keeps ALL profits, not a tiny royalty, is pretty good. I would say that anything else is probably icing.

“Maybe he can come up with an entire line of products…”

Yep, he pretty much keeps doing that, and he keeps making a ton of money in the process. Oh yeah, and he also continues to make some of his most inspired music in a long time.

“No more ads…” (and all that other garbage that preceded this)

First, I fail to see why selling advertising space on the blog (a scarce good) while giving the content away is not an example of making money for free. But, let’s assume you’re right, and it is somehow disqualified. If you did even an ounce of research, you would find out that TechDirt is a consulting company, and they make money from their services. This blog provides them with publicity and introduces people to their consulting company that might not even know they want the service until they spend time reading the blog. So, in answer to your challenge, TechDirt is already doing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Engaging your customer with your brand (yes overall, generalized brand, not band) in a creative, innovative, and fun way can do nothing but help.

Free music is going to happen whether NIN gives it away or not, so why not control the way your free music is distributed to the masses? By leaking 1 album for free, they created lifetime fans from those who may have been “touch and go” supporters of the group.

From the consumer’s standpoint: I got the last NIN album for free on the net essentially saving $10 – $15. Now I want to go to an NIN concert with that extra $10 – $15 in my pocket that yields a discount on my seats and maybe I’ll snag a tour shirt.

I’m not huge into NIN, but to see the ways that they’re innovating engage their fans does cause me to think of ways that these ideas can be translated into my own world. Thus, the multiplication theory comes into effect.

Very good read Mike.

Trerro says:

Concert prices won't increase

I keep seeing the argument that because artists are giving up their album sales, they’ll have to charge more for concert tickets. What people who say this forget is that artists get $0.25-$0.50 on an album sale, and at least 20 times that on a ticket. Even if they lose ALL album sales, and get 10% more ticket sales, they come out way ahead… and that’s a pathetic increase – they’d almost certainly get a larger increase than that.

The RIAA does nothing but leech money that should be going to bands. Sure, they used to be involved in promotion as well, but that no longer matters. Pandora, file sharing networks, and just plain word of mouth are all you need to get your band noticed now. Of course, doing other stuff on top of that is never a bad idea, and will only help you further, as bands like NIN are proving.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Concert prices won't increase

Everyone always assumes concert attendance and/or price goes up, but why? People who want the music free today can get it free. Those who want to pay for it can do that. And yet concert prices are only so high. So we have free and for-pay music driving concert prices now and yet a model with only free music will drive up prices? Explain.

WAR (profile) says:

RE: Because he loves us, that's why, you moron

Trent Reznor has enough money. He has enough fame. He has a loyal audience. He has his health, his sobriety, and a lot more besides. Instead of kowtowing to a pretty much obsolete music industry paradigm, he has chosen to be as innovative with his business as he is with his music. He’s not kidding when he tells people to steal his music. He’s also not kidding when he books himself on grueling 18 month long ampitheater tours to pay the salaries of the people who work for him. He sees this as the best possible way to be heard, and we hear him. We hear him loud and clear.

You don’t want to spend 5 bucks on the game? That’s cool with him. You do? Well, he’ll make it worth your while to do so with a contest or two. Why? Because he loves us, you moron.


Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

To the close-minded

I have been following Reznor for over 50% of my life to date, and that percentage can only go up.
He does a good job all by himself at shooting down a lot of your arguments up there.
Many of these points were stated above, but a few of you seem a little too thick skulled to understand.

Reznor encourages his fans to download his music. It is not stealing, and it is not theft. It WOULD be copyright infringement, IF he cared. But because he actively encourages his fans to download his music, you are breaking no laws by doing so (unless maybe you get some older stuff that somebody else owns any sort of copyright on).
But, since he actively encourages it, there is nothing wrong with it. He even makes it super easy from his website to download the newer stuff. He even manages to sell CDs, WITHOUT the RIAA or any of their worthless ilk. He does this by adding more value to the disc. Or he also has fans like me, who, despite downloading the disc the moment its available, I also choose to pay money to have the physical copy, because I collect them. I am a true fan in this regard. He will make money period.
He made over 1.6million from his Ghosts cd alone, probably more now since that number is old. And this is because he made it worthwhile. He added signatures and vinyls and a whole bunch of other stuff to the discs and sold them for what I see as crazy amounts. But there are truer fans than I, and they paid for it.

For the guys who keep mentioning all that is left is concerts, you have obviously never been to a concert. Every concert I have been to (NIN WAYYYYYY more than others) you see people wearing t-shirts of the band, or other such articles of clothing. Merchandise works quite nicely for bands. I would say a good 50% of the NIN fans I see are wearing something NIN at the concerts. I am one of them (at every concert since the Fragility tour).

As poster #26, WAR, said, he loves us. You can tell in everything he does, in his website, at his concerts. Reznor really does care about us fans. And we care about him. It is an excellent relationship. If you cared about more than money in this life, you would understand.

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