With barely any warning, Trent Raznor’s done it again. The Slip is yet another online album available from Nine Inch Nails and this one is for free- no options for payment or anything. No DRM and the whole thing is licensed under Creative Commons too. Plus he’s offering it in several formats, including high quality digital audio that beats the crap outta the usual MP3 files. And this just on the tail of his Ghosts release, only a few weeks ago.
What’s more, it’s a really good album. I’d even go as far to say it’s some of his best material, featuring not only his industrial strength slam-bangs and noise blasts but also a strong batch of songs and not just a bunch of moody instrumentals like on Ghosts.
So what’s the deal? How can TR crank out all of his material? Sure it’s possible or likely that he stored up this material for some time and just decided to put it out now as a show of strength. Also, NIN is touring now and this is some primo promo that he’s doing. The paradigm of records and touring has been changing where the tour once sold the records but now the opposite is happening where the records are supposed to lure you into a tour, where there’s usually more money for the band.
Any way you cut it, you gotta hand it to TR for not just signing onto the online give-away bandwagon but going beyond Radiohead with it (who’ve admitted that In Rainbows was a one-off experiment).
The question now is where or now Raznor will take it further. What else is he gonna offer for free? How soon can we expect a new record? How many other bands will sign on to do the same thing? Is the time between new releases for a band gonna be cut down now? (once upon a time, bands would put out multiple albums in a year- even the Beatles and Stones). In some ways, this feels like a top-this challenge to other performers too. Expect more experiments like this coming down the pike and not just from Trent. I can’t wait for ‘em.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.