Trent Reznor, the front man for Nine Inch Nails, who has widely been acknowledged as one of the most important artists in the music industry. Trent Reznor has released a new multi-part album, Ghosts I-IV, with both a Creative Commons license and an innovative pricing scheme. The first 9 tracks are available as a free download from either the site or through a legal download from ThePirateBay (note: a legal use of BitTorrent, those of you who think BitTorrent is only for piracy). The whole album is available as a download in multiple formats, including pure lossless cd quality, for only 5 dollars. You can also purchase the two cd set that will be mailed out on April 8th along with an immediate download of the collection. There are two other pricing plans, a deluxe $75 package that includes a blu-ray disk of extras along with the acutal multi-track recording sessions so you can play with the music.
The final package is a hefty $300 dollars and includes all of the previous sets, plus some more extras including being signed by Trent Reznor himself and limited to only 2,500 possibly being sold. The amazing thing about this is that already inside of three days since being offered the limited package has already sold out. This means that already Trent Reznor has made
$75,000 $750,000 not including those who paid for the smaller packages.
The thing that I particularly liked about what NIN did, is that the cost to sample the album was free in real terms. The album could be sampled without feeling like you were ripping off the band such as what could have happened in Radiohead’s plan and in the earlier idea Trent Reznor spawned that was Niggy Tardust. This was something that I mentioned back when Niggy Tardusts was orginally released.
If an album is going to be released on the internet, why not make it easy for people to sample the music. Amazon does it for cd’s and their music store as does iTunes, get with the program. If the album is released on the internet before it is exposed to the public, of course people won’t cough up money to pay for an item they have no idea about. Would you buy a product without testing it first, or verifying that you are receiving something that you want?
I will say that like Wil Wheaton, I downloaded the album off of BitTorrent first then ultimately paid the $10 dollars for the full album and will probably go back and buy the deluxe package later on. This is an amazing confirmation of the idea that artists can sell their work through the internet and they don’t have to go through record albums to make money. Granted NIN does already have a large fan base and a large market presence, but Reznor did something that hopefully will change the music indusitry for the good.
(Edited: March 6, 2008 – Minor error in the amount made in the three days that it took the limited package to sell out.)