Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Nine Inch Nails' experiment: A bigger bang than Radiohead?

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Sunday, Mar 23, 2008

After the Saul Williams album he produced didn’t tear the charts, a frustrated Trent Reznor got pissy, saying that fans didn’t want to support artists at all, even when they provided a quick, direct, cheap way to get the music online.  Williams took a much more mature view, saying that offering music to fans online for what they wanna pay is a new experiment and that it will pay off long term.  As such, I didn’t have much hope when Raznor offered the new Nine Inch Nails album, Ghosts I-IV, online the same way from his own site, especially as it was an instrumental set.  Boy was I wrong… and I’m glad too.
  
It turns out that ol’ Trent (who’s exactly the same age as me) got over 750,000 paying customers to fork over five bucks for the album (36 tracks worth no less) though he also offered a teaser of the first ten songs free and a limited edition set for $300.  Do the math and you’ll see that he cleaned up, big time.  Much more than if he was working with any of his old labels.


Music-wise, I gotta say that the TR’s done better though it’s an interesting curiosity- an album full of oddly moody instrumentals with Adrian Belew as guest guitarist (he should enlist Bill Laswell next time too).  As such, I didn’t hold out much hope that it was gonna sell much.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong.  There’s definitely plenty of NIN fans out there and good for them for supporting Trent and this kind of online endeavor.


Again, this is a relatively new experiment but when big players like him follow Radiohead’s lead on this, there’s definitely a movement afoot.  What’s more, unlike Radiohead, who never released sales figures from their last album (they just said they were pleased with the result), we know for a fact now that Reznor did really well on his own.  Because he went the DIY route and has proven, concrete results, he might not be making history the way Radiohead did but he’s provided a much stronger case for big-name acts doing the same.  That’s gonna be a big change for the industry.  Other band have talked about following along but now they have even more reason to do so.  Labels, especially the big ones, should be concerned about this but if they were smart, they’d also think of ways to better support their artists or new ones they hope to lure (health care, anyone?).


Don’t worry about Radiohead though.  The publicity generated from their last album will definitely help them rack up good sales for their upcoming tour and they’re also offering a few bucks for fans who’ll do their next video.

Related Articles
10 Apr 2014
This merger of two industrial pioneers can be impressive, but never quite matches the original versions.
3 Feb 2014
Primavera Sound 2014 will bring huge acts to Barcelona this May including Arcade Fire, Nine Inch Nails and The National as well as the reunion of Slowdive.
By Sean Issofresh
27 Nov 2013
Photographer Sean Issofresh was on hand for us at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans to capture some of the fest's greatest moments.
By PopMatters Staff
25 Nov 2012
Last week we ran a List This feature devoted to Nine Inch Nails. Today, we present the playlist for easy listening, if NIN can ever be called that.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.