Trent Reznor: CD Outdated... But If We Have To Sell It, Why Not Make It Cool?

from the and-that's-how-sales-work dept

Earlier this month we wrote about how Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails was creatively marketing his new album (and how the RIAA was incorrectly trying to takedown songs from file sharing systems, even though it was part of Reznor's promotional plan). Two separate submissions today make an interesting point about Reznor's strategy. First, comes from Cixelsid, who points out an article that's actually from last month, where Reznor talks about why he's giving away DRM-free music on USB drives hidden at his concerts:
"The USB drive was simply a mechanism of leaking the music and data we wanted out there. The medium of the CD is outdated and irrelevant. It's really painfully obvious what people want -- DRM-free music they can do what they want with. If the greedy record industry would embrace that concept I truly think people would pay for music and consume more of it."
It's always nice to see a musician recognize this simple fact. However, it's made even more interesting when combined with this submission from John about the new Nine Inch Nails CD. According to some photos on Flickr, the CD changes color after it's been played. Basically, it changes colors when it gets hot (like those old t-shirts or mugs or whatever). Now, this is simply a gimmick, but it's an interesting one for someone who believes the CD is irrelevant. Whether on purpose or not, Reznor (or, perhaps someone associated with him) recognizes that, these days, if you want someone to buy the actual CD, you need to give them an additional reason to -- especially if it's a reason that can't easily be replicated. A color changing CD is exactly that. It's an additional reason for buying the CD, simply for the "cool" factor. It won't work for everyone (in fact, this type of thing only works for some of the first who do it), but it shows a pretty smart way of thinking about things. Don't expect people to just buy the same old thing (especially when many consider it irrelevant) unless you offer something of value with it that gives them a reason to actually buy. You can still sell CDs, but not if they're just delivering the same thing that can be more efficiently delivered in other ways.
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  1. identicon
    Craig, 19 Apr 2007 @ 8:35am

    Yeah but...

    I think the point Trent Reznor is trying to make is that the labels won't allow DRM-free data-format releases, i.e. mp3, even though he'd like to do them. You have to remember that most artists aren't in control of how their music is distributed by their labels.

    The band KMFDM, on the other hand, now owns their catalog and is releasing download-only versions of their records through their website at a fair price. They also distribute their own merch, again at very fair prices. This is something a major-label act can never pull off thanks to the labels, distributors, promoters, and basically eveyone else having their hands out and having a say in what happens to the music after it leaves the studio. KMFDM will never sell a millin records, but they have several thousand hard-core fans who buy everything the band puts out. The strategy for them has ultimately been successful.

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