(UPDATED) Convinced the current music business infrastructure (requiring artists to rely on labels) is broken, Nine Inch Nails front man, Trent Reznor, released his band’s new album Sunday night via his official site, marking yet another business experiment for this artist in the changing music market.
Last year, Reznor announced his band would free itself from record labels, and it looks like he’s following through with his promise. He released the new album, Ghosts I – IV (Ghosts Volumes One though Four), Sunday at 6 PM, says the LA Times’ Extended Play blog.
The musician’s experiment relies on the theory that customers would be willing to pay for the music if there’s extra value included, so he released the album in various packages. The first 9 tracks are available for free in a high-quality, DRM-free MP3 format, and a 40 page PDF book and a digital extras pack with wallpapers, icons, and more come included.
Everything in the free package is included in the 5$ set, but the rest of the album gets thrown in, and it’s available in a variety of DRM-free formats including 320 kbps MP3, FLAC Lossless, and Apple Lossless.
The $10 pack includes two audio CDs and a few other goodies, but the $75 pack makes things really interesting. Ghosts I-IV comes on two CDs, and a data DVD is included, which features multi-track session .wav files for other artists to remix. There’s also a Blu-ray disc containing the stereo mix of Ghosts I-IV and a slideshow to the music. The $75 pack also comes with everything the $5 and $10 sets bring to the table.
Finally, for the die-hard fans (or just fans with extra money), the $300 autographed Limited Edition set adds four 180 gram vinyl LPs to the mix, which happen to come wrapped in fabric slipcases. A separate larger, slipcase includes three embossed, fabric-bound hardcover books and some of the extras from the other packs.
Reznor is a large advocate of file-sharing, lately promoting the idea that "stealing" music actually supports musicians. He believes so much in the idea that he released some of the music of last year’s NIN album for file-sharing, though he didn’t release the songs through the net. The songs were saved on USB flash-drives and placed in bathrooms for fans to find, take home, and share. Oddly enough, when the RIAA realized new NIN songs were being traded online, it demanded various sites to stop hosting the music. This was unnecessary, of course, as Reznor released the songs for promotional reasons.
Though Reznor seems to be doing his best to ditch the old-model of music distribution (record labels and CDs), the album will be available in regular CD format through Sony BMG’s Red Octane in traditional retail stores, according to Billboard. Last year, Reznor produced Saul Williams’ The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, which was offered for free or for $5 in a better format. As a result, this is not the first time the NIN frontman has ventured into the "other-side" of the music business, but it seems that he hasn’t entirely detached from the familiar side either.
UPDATE: It seems the experiment has paid off — to the tune of nearly $1 million!
Below you can check out some of the music from the new album courtesy of the NIN site’s custom flash player: