There’s now officially a product available from the extreme amount of material NIN recently released. The best part about this material? It’s high quality and totally free. Free, as in $0, not even a donation asked for free.
There are two albums under the combined name, Another Version of the Truth, Las Vegas and The Gift. All recordings are from live shows, with some of the audio coming from fan mics mixed with soundboard feeds. Both albums incorporate material from The Slip and Ghosts I-IV, which shows stong indicators that this internet-released music is something that’s going to be a permanent part of the NIN discography rather than an experiment in a new business model.
One strange and amazing thing is that there’s a DVD project on the site that aims to get together fans who are willing to produce and distribute burned DVD copies to fans who want such copies. That’s such a new, fresh idea that it’s very notable. Tape trading is something most bands tolerate, but to actively facilitate it is remarkable.
At this point, one has to ask whether Trent and Co. will ever release an album again with no free component to it. There certainly hasn’t been one for the past three releases. That’s extremely laudable, and it’s good business for NIN to boot. Check this out:
NIN isn’t protecting or hiding their property, and everyone benefits. How many other artists have vaults of this type of stuff that has limited commercial viability? It’s stuff like this that’s definitely better used as a promotional vehicle, because people often find actual value in free content.
There’s another new, creative commons licensed Nine Inch Nails album out there, titled ‘The Slip’. Trent Reznor and his crew really seem to get where the music industry going and should be. It looks like one of the ways NIN is trying make back their costs on this (and most likely make a small mint as well) is through related concert ticket sales, which are scarce goods. Of course, that’s one good that will be more in demand, too, given that more people are listening to NIN nowadays. Plus, the Ghosts albums were pretty commercially successful, to boot, so there’s a decent chance this one will make some money too.
This news is probably getting out a lot on the inter-tubes just now, but it’s still noteworthy enough for me to write about, in any case. Nine Inch Nails has decided to release a set of four albums worth of brand new instrumental music, Ghosts I-IV, using the internet as the distribution method. They’re giving one album away for free, and the remaining three can be gotten through a variety of means, including very reasonably priced, high quality MP3/FLAC download ($5). On top of that, it’s Creative Commons licensed, so if you do happen to not want to pay for it, you’re not doing anything illegal!
So, it’s pretty obvious that Trent Reznor and company understand how to do business in an internet-enabled world. This really isn’t surprising, given that Reznor has freely admitted to being an oink.cd subscriber back when it was still around. I was on the Ghosts site yesterday, and it was absolutely slammed with traffic to the point that I couldn’t even buy the album. In this day and age, that’s a really good problem to have – too much demand! More than the Radiohead In Rainbows promotion, though, NIN has taken this model to a new level, offering a product at a price that seems fair given the distribution model. On top of that, there’s a ton of the promotion and other opportunities this move presents, with related merchandise and concert sales.
There’s a great opportunity that exists right now to become a real player in music e-distribution right now. What does exist, namely iTunes and the Zune store, don’t even get anything too right. iTunes is price-constrained ($.99/song is ridiculous, and with Apple DRM on top of that) and the Zune store is similarly price-constrained, but without the DRM (good) or the fanbase (bad). If someone could come along and offer distribution and promotional services to bands in exchange for a cut of sales and could sign some great acts, what a great business to be in. It’s bound to happen, and everyone will win, as opposed to the environment today where there are only casulties in this pointless RIAA-consumer war.