Trent Reznor: CD Outdated...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 The medium of the CD is outdated and irrelevant.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
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2007 @ 9:06am

    Yep, signing a record label contract is pretty much selling your soul to the devil, for some labels anyway. At that point they own you and your music, and they can force you to do music the way they want or you're out of luck, because said contracts prevent you from profiting from doing music on your own or for another label. This amounts to a conspiracy between the record labels and the RIAA to pad their pockets via filesharing lawsuits, even if it's against the artists' wishes.

    And btw, selling USB drives with CDs is ridiculous. Just burn mixed mode CDs that have both the top quality CD audio tracks as well as a data track with 320kbps MP3 files, which you can then downsample if you don't like the large file size. All you have to do is buy the CD, pop it into your computer, and copy the mp3 files into your media player app or MP3 player device. That should not significantly add to production costs in any way and it will give the public what they want, which is the convenience of digital media that they can play wherever they want along with a hard copy in case their mp3 player or hard drive blows up.

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