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NIN's Music Experiment Sells Big Numbers 452

Posted by Zonk
from the take-that-publishers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like Trent Reznor's new Nine Inch Nails album experiment is a success. Among the various options he gave fans, the most expensive was the $300 Limited Edition Ultra Deluxe Package. It took just over a day for that package to completely sell out, earning Reznor $750,000 in revenue from just that option alone."
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NIN's Music Experiment Sells Big Numbers

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  • Re:BLU (Score:5, Insightful)

    by splutty (43475) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:15AM (#22647240)
    Obviously you've never heard Nine Inch Nails live, or on CD for that matter. Trent doesn't need to artificially 'noise himself', really. He does that well enough on his own (with the help of his ever changing band, of course)

    I'd say go and download his music, and you'll see what I mean.
  • by Bryan Ischo (893) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:16AM (#22647244) Homepage
    That is good news for artists who want to publish their own music. Clearly such a business model can be successful for the artist.

    However, is this success likely to be duplicated? Is it just because this concept is so novel that so many people were willing to pay so much for the special edition? Would that many people line up to buy the special edition of his next album? Are other artists as likely to experience this success once such things become more mainstream and less unique?

    Part of the criteria that people use in deciding the value of something is how rare and unusual it is, and since this is one of the first such instances of an artist-produced album, I wonder if the profits that Trent Reznor has enjoyed here will be sustainable for other artists.

    Consider: all of the people who paid $300 for his special edition release, probably listen to many other artists as well. Would they spend $300, or anything close to it, for special edition releases of albums from all the other artists they like? Probably not; most almost certainly couldn't afford to pay $300 x N artists x M albums; Trent was savvy enough to do it first, so he gets to enjoy what is likely an unsustainable pricing model.

    I'm not trying to belittle his accomplishment, which is awesome (although I personally wouldn't know a Trent Reznor song from a Barry Manilow song, I'm glad that someone is pushing the boundaries for music distribution and trying to fix the music publishing system), I'm just trying to point out that anyone who thinks that all artists can be this successful, need to realize that this is unlikely to be duplicated, based on purely economic considerations.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:19AM (#22647250) Journal
    At least the ones in California. I'm absolutely certain that several doctors will be getting emergency visits in the coming days from **AA executives.

    The smile on Trent's face should be worth a few pictures. ZOMG!! if you give consumers a choice and don't try to screw them over, they really do pay for stuff... WTF?

    This was an experiment for Trent, but it cost the **AA more than he could have ever imagined. Yes, I did say **AA. Believe me when I say they are watching what happens to the RIAA with great interest.

    Now, all of the **AA pretty much has to admit they got it wrong. They won't admit it of course, but you know how that conversation is going to go in the board room. 'I told you so' is the magic phrase that attracts flying chairs... or something like that
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlienIntelligence (1184493) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:20AM (#22647254)
    I would like to think positively in that regard. I do fear that success of this sort will only lead to backlash and a more intense milking of the failing biz plan that they are clinging to like the parasites they are. Ever scorch a set-in tick? They bite harder.
  • by klingens (147173) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:25AM (#22647276)
    Labels, retail outlets, etc are cut out, replaced by creditcard agencies, CD-R manufactucters, ink makers, webhosters and ISPs. Overall the new middlemen are more efficient and differect, yes, but they are still middlemen.

    One role that the "new middlemen" fill very well is promotion, the traditional role of the label. NIN is in a good position right now since the whole media does that for free for them: they are an established act and do something new and to spite the established power structure. So it's news and gets reported generating publicity. New bands won't have that luxury unfortunately.
  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311 AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:33AM (#22647312) Homepage
    *ESTABLISHED* artists should charge large amounts for their music.

    The problem with all these experiments is they involve artists who at some point had the backing of a record company.

    We've yet to see any artist make big bucks without, at some point, the benefit of the record company marketing machine.
  • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:33AM (#22647314) Homepage

    Consider: all of the people who paid $300 for his special edition release, probably listen to many other artists as well. Would they spend $300, or anything close to it, for special edition releases of albums from all the other artists they like?

    No, but all of those that didn't spend $300, but only bought the cheap $5 version, are also listening to a lot of other bands, and would probably buy the $300 collectors edition from some other artist that they love. As you say, people don't have the money to spend $300 on every artist they want to hear, no matter what RIAA claims. Most people do want to spend some amount of money on culture though, and things like this shows that they will do that, even if they can get the content for free by other means.

  • by snl2587 (1177409) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:35AM (#22647324)

    This was an experiment for Trent, but it cost the **AA more than he could have ever imagined. Yes, I did say **AA. Believe me when I say they are watching what happens to the RIAA with great interest.

    And the real kicker? This was also experimental music. Imagine the profit margin if he had used his normal material.

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:37AM (#22647328) Homepage

    success of this sort will only lead to backlash and a more intense milking of the failing biz plan that they are clinging to

    Which will lead to even less CD sales, more public outcry, and even more artists doing the same thing as NIN. Eventually, RIAA won't have any funds left to abuse us with, either by the member companies leaving, or the member companies bleeding dry.

  • by Rufus211 (221883) <(rufus-slashdot) (at) (hackish.org)> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:42AM (#22647366) Homepage
    I think this shows the future of where, IMHO, the music industry, or at least individual artists, should be going: convenience and patronage. People are realizing that the inherent value of a CD, and especially of a downloaded mp3, is pretty close to $0. The main reason to spend money on an inherently worthless mp3 is for convenience: $1 and 1 minute to itunes, or $0 and searching the pirate bay / mucking with bittorrent. The other reason is because you genuinely like the music and want to support the band, so give them money for the sake of giving them money.

    This NIN experiment shows it clearly: there's $0 of inherent value in the songs themselves, as they are CC licensed and can legally be copied. For the convenience factor $5 or $10 gets you the mp3s or 4 CDs - pretty hard to beat (ignoring NIN's site being hammered the last few days). The $75 set is clearly patronage; you get the shiny book and some extra CDs with it, but you're really spending the money because you want to give NiN the money. The $300 level is an odd one, as it's a combination of patronage and market speculation for resale.
  • by RSA7474 (1163263) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:43AM (#22647368)
    His success is highly supported by the fan base he already had, which was in turn partly because of his prior label and manager.

    The internet makes it easier for people to find music, but still not at the scale radio play will get them. If an artist signs onto a big label such as Universal, and the label buys them radio time, they will become popular.

    To get to my point, this model may be innovative and inspiring, but it isn't going to work for Joe band that records in their basement and tries to market their album for free or pay.
  • Re:What a shock (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @05:48AM (#22647392) Homepage

    This is a very interesting point, especially if you take into consideration that the people who don't play nice in this setting, won't disrupt the nice people's experience, and thus there's no need for any punishment or law against it.

    In the real world were the people who don't believe in imaginary property lives, anyone that doesn't play nice can cause a lot of harm to us that do, so sometimes we need to write laws preventing people from harming others.

  • by Stuart Gibson (544632) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:01AM (#22647420) Homepage
    I think that those of us who paid $300+ dollars ($383 to get it to the UK and I expect I'll have import duty to pay on top of that) are the die hard NIN fans. There are maybe two or three other bands that I'd drop that kind of cash on for a single release and I don't think it has anything to do with the business model. NIN are a band that have a lot of very rabid fans and then a lot of others who like their stuff and will happily pay for the $5 or $10 package. Then there are those who will spend the $5 just an a screw you to the RIAA and to show support for the model.

    All cult music acts could produce something in this price range and the hardcore will buy it, but I suspect that 2500 was the right number to produce for this. I'm sure they could have sold 5000 copies, but at that point you're probably pushing the market limit of people willing to spend $300 on one album.
  • by definate (876684) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:01AM (#22647422)

    Labels, retail outlets, etc are cut out, replaced by creditcard agencies, CD-R manufactucters, ink makers, webhosters and ISPs. Overall the new middlemen are more efficient and differect, yes, but they are still middlemen.

    One role that the "new middlemen" fill very well is promotion, the traditional role of the label. NIN is in a good position right now since the whole media does that for free for them: they are an established act and do something new and to spite the established power structure. So it's news and gets reported generating publicity. New bands won't have that luxury unfortunately.
    I like your comparison, labels are cut out, however you go wrong after that. Retail outlets are free to purchase the CD, and have the buying power to most likely purchase it for less than we can. So they haven't been cut out. Credit card agencies, cd-r manufacturers, ink makers, web hosters and ISPs aren't the replacement. These were there in the other system, so that makes the other system not just inefficient but grossly inefficient.

    Before:
    1. Retail outlets
    2. Labels (Recording company)
    3. Labels (Publishers)
    4. Credit Card Agencies
    5. CD-R manufacturers
    6. ink makers
    7. web hosters
    8. ISPs


    After:
    1. Retail outlets
    2. Credit Card Agencies
    3. CD-R manufacturers
    4. ink makers
    5. web hosters
    6. ISPs


    It's not that big of a change, however it's far better for their customers, much more efficient and in turn far better for them.
  • by badpauly (1158327) <badpauly@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:04AM (#22647428)
    The fan-base may be due to the label, but the 'anti-label' mentality that Trent/NIN has is also due to the label. TR/NIN has been pushed by the labels, as most bands have, for his entire career. His second release almost never made it, with the label blocking all attempts at recording, and resulted in him recording in secret, at his expense, in order to complete. That release won him a Grammy. His label attempted to block him appearing on an EP, resulting in the releasing artist distorting his vocals and claiming it was someone else. These are just two of many instances where the label tried to block the artist, while complaining the artist doesn't do enough for them. And they then wonder why the bands fight back? TR/NIN now have almost everything they have released available for free download, are now releasing music in a non-traditional manner, and making a damn good show of it. A few more releases from a few more bands like this, and we will hopefully see the death of the old-school mentality in record labels, and a shift towards a fairer industry that will benefit all parties - and not just the suits on the top-floors of the labels.
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:09AM (#22647456)
    I don't buy modern music, but just because I don't hear it. However, I do hope that musicians finally manage to remove the middle man and start distributing their own music and receiving the full payment.

    The main reason of this hope is not for my love for musicians but for the effect this can have in every other business based in mass distribution of copies of a data item.

    Photography, novels, software, all may find ways of receiving direct payment from the consumer.
  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:24AM (#22647498)

    I'm just trying to point out that anyone who thinks that all artists can be this successful, need to realize that this is unlikely to be duplicated, based on purely economic considerations.
    There are few things I think you should consider. First FTA:

    Each Limited Edition is numbered and personally signed by Trent Reznor. Strictly Limited to 2500 pieces. Limit one per customer.
    You question whether this is a sustainable business model for the rest of the artists, since you postulate that this is a one time reaction to a novel idea.

    I would ask this question instead. Is it reasonable to assume that there are 2,500 "hardcore" Nine Inch Nails fans?

    The answer, IMO, is yes. I am just like you, and I am not a Nine Inch Nails fan to the point that I can identify their songs on the radio. However, I do know there are plenty of people that love their music. I would be surprised if 5,000 people did not buy the limited edition.

    Now I am a big fan of some other bands. Their names are not important. What is important, is that I would consider spending $75 or even $300 on a limited edition album they produce. Especially, since I know that it is direct to the artist, no godless fucking burn-in-the-fiery-pits-of-hell middleman media exec scum (insert more rage against the big media machine here). I would not do it for many, that is sure, but people like me are the reason why I say the limited edition price point will be sustainable. It is just statistics. If a band is popular enough, they will have a small percentage of people willing to pay the higher price points for whatever reason you want to postulate as to why.

    So I believe that you are wrong in your assessment that this is unlikely to be repeated. I think that you are correct, in that most fans listen to many artists and have only so much money to spend, and that there are economic considerations here. However, we have not heard what the numbers are for the 5$ and 10$ price points yet. It may turn out to be that it is entirely possible for popular artists to sell competitive price points with iTunes, Amazon, etc. and yet also sell a few thousand die hard fans the much higher price points.

    Trent Reznor is also not the first to offer it for free either. Rainbow Whatamacallit band (no offense, i just have no idea which band did it) did something like that awhile ago too. Trent is just adding some price points to it that people can choose right off the bat with different levels of the product being available. Whether or not the next artist is the 2nd to do this, or the 22nd will probably not affect the people that will buy it just to make a statement against DRM either. Point in fact, I am ONE OF THEM.

    I can also see a huge appeal to bypass Big Entertainment, and deal with Artists directly. To say that the RIAA and the MPAA (MAFIAA) have done a lot of damage with public relations, is a whopper of an understatement. There is a backlash against them right now and the whole paradigm they shove down our throats that we "don't own our music" and cannot do what we want with it. So there may be a huge number of people, that although not paying for music now, will rush to the Internet to support the "cause" and their favorite Artists. Combine those people, with the people that make up the sales on Amazon and iTunes alone, and that represents a huge amount of potential business.

    Your question is certainly insightful, however I think you are wrong in your assessment.
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:28AM (#22647516)

    Are other artists as likely to experience this success once such things become more mainstream and less unique?

    Part of the criteria that people use in deciding the value of something is how rare and unusual it is, and since this is one of the first such instances of an artist-produced album, I wonder if the profits that Trent Reznor has enjoyed here will be sustainable for other artists.

    Of course other artists won't be as successful. Of course these types of profits aren't sustainable. Is that a bad thing?

    These guys are entertainers, and yet a lot of people seem to think that they automatically deserve to be multi-millionaires. That's insane. They don't build houses for people to live in. They don't grow food for people to eat. They don't advance our understanding of the world. They are modern day jesters, a distraction when you have nothing better to do.

    I like music as much as the next person, but please let us have some perspective here. If musicians don't make a lot of money, that's absolutely fine. A million bucks is something a musician should work a lifetime to achieve, not something they can pick up from a year's work with one album. And it's sure as hell not society's job to subsidise them with copyrights until they are filthy rich.

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penix1 (722987) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:34AM (#22647526) Homepage
    They have already gone this route by trying (and continuing to try) to introduce legislation mandating a "media tax" on all ISPs much like the Canadian blank CD tax. If they can't get their pound of flesh from the artists, they will try the other end of the supply chain...US!

    What I can't understand is the media companies keep claiming a decline in sales yet also report record profits. This is more true of the movie industry than the music but still, it doesn't make any logical sense to me. It is like the oil industry claiming to need tax relief while showing record profits. I just don't get it...
  • by WNight (23683) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:38AM (#22647546) Homepage
    There are costs, but middlemen are people between you and the customer. Here it seems like Trent could walk down the street handing out CDs and collecting money, all of which he gets to keep.

    I don't mind businesses existing to do middlemen things, but I do mind the exclusive way they act and how all services are bundled. If you want shelf space in any store, you take the full line of RIAA 'services' for 95% of the profit.

    In the future, ideally, even if you end up paying 95% of your revenue in services, it'll be to people you choose for services you actually want. In that market a smart business owner could make a lot more money by handling the arrangement of these services and skimping on stuff they don't want.

    For instance, album art. That may have mattered on records (large area) and for retail sales, but what's the point of some little picture associated with the MP3/Ogg? There's a savings for the e-market only musician.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @06:42AM (#22647564)
    who?
  • by Avtuunaaja (1249076) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:14AM (#22647666)
    The remixable one is for 75$, and it's still available.
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WallaceAndGromit (910755) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:30AM (#22647716) Homepage
    If you are going to make that analogy, you forgot to mention the high price we (the US) pay, through taxes, to provide military security around the globe to protect our music interests. Unfortunately, this price is not included in the cost of music that we buy, but instead is buried in our tax bills, so we have no real clue how much this security is actually costing. Also, even those of us who wish to conserve music (Prius pumping out Bach) still pay the same protection price as others (Escalade pumping out Hip-Hop), on average, because of this method of financing music security. While I would not support a music tax that is simply paid straight to the RIAA to increase profits, I would say a music tax, used to cover the true costs of security, would be enlightening and fairer to those of us who chose to conserve.
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ronocdh (906309) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:41AM (#22647754)

    Ever scorch a set-in tick? They bite harder.
    First off, you shouldn't be burning ticks out. Removing with tweezers runs the risk of breaking the tick and thus raises the odds of contracting Lyme disease (among other things, so this method is often used in conjugation with topical antibiotics on hand). A much safer, more reasonable method is to cover the entire area around the tick with petroleum jelly, thereby suffocating the tick.

    I bring this up because Trent et al. aren't burning their ticks out, they're suffocating them. They just smear on the Vaseline and forget all about it, going about their business while the tick tries to scramble through the mysterious ooze to get air.

    And raking in astounding profit while they're at it, I feel compelled to add.
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:48AM (#22647796) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I wouldn't pre-pay $10 for something I've never heard. I'd rather that a band recorded at a cheap-ish record studio and got a few songs recorded. If they then have something worth listening to then I would gladly pre-pay the $10, though I still think $30000 just to record an album is a bit much. I've preferred the recordings we made at £14 an hour to the time we spent £750 for a couple of days of recording and mixing - though the guy at that place obviously just sucked at mixing, it was far too bass heavy so that didn't help my opinion of fancy equipment and recording rates..
  • by SailorSpork (1080153) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:50AM (#22647808) Homepage

    Would they spend $300, or anything close to it, for special edition releases of albums from all the other artists they like? Probably not
    No, maybe not them, but maybe 750 of the biggest fans of that other band that didn't like NIN would. In fact, maybe some of the NIN 750 would too, you'd be surprised.

    The point is, with all these different pricing schemes, NIN is doing what marketers would call segmenting the market to attain better pricing discrimination [wikipedia.org], getting the most out of consumers by getting them to pay more for the album if they value it more. Bigger fans will pay more, while most people are more price sensitive, etc. This means that NIN is getting more money overall than if they had released the album at just $10.

    While doing something like this at a retail store is very hard logistically because brick-and-mortar store would need to keep multiple SKU's in stock for each item (and the rare few $750 fans would be few and far between, so the package might sit for a very long time before being discounted or sent back), in a central online retail store this is a lot more practical. Not only is NIN cutting out the RIAA middleman, they're also cutting out the retail middleman, while setting up different price points so that they get the most value out of each customer. Clever, Trent.
  • by fearx (19408) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:54AM (#22647826)

    It's not that big of a change, however it's far better for their customers, much more efficient and in turn far better for them.
    I would have to disagree with this statement. Many customers experienced issues downloading the material from the nin.com servers. Of those that did, many did not receive as much as an email from the customer support staff after letting them know that their downloads had failed and the limit allotted to their session id was reached. I am one of those people.

    So although it is nice for an artist to go on his own, I think customer service at least in this instance is not there. Lets look at some other models of buying music as examples.

    1) If I were to step into a FYE and buy an album, I know I can return it back to that retailer if the disc is scratched of if I have other issues with the disc. At the very least I will be told I can not return the product rather than being ignored.

    2) If I were to purchase a song or album from iTunes and the download failed, I have a method of reporting the failed download. They state it will take 24 hours to receive a response, but you know what? You actually get a response and any times that I have had issues, they reset the download. Not only that, but I had purchased some ADC (Apple Developer Connection) videos and internet connectivity where I was at sucked and it kept getting disconnected, once I returned home I was able to download the successfully. I thought nothing of it, 2 days later I received a phone call from an ADC rep asking if I was able to receive the files. That is good customer service.

    BTW, I opted for the $75 version of the package.

  • by Seumas (6865) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:28AM (#22647978)
    I bought mine the same time, via Amazon and downloaded it within about five minutes.

    Not only that, but I discovered at the same time that Amazon's MP3 Downloader is available for linux from their site. In fact, I just downloaded the *.deb, right clicked to install and sucked down my 36 files. That was the last thing I expected to see from Amazon, but I suspect they realized that a large portion of the people who would find DRM-free music to be appealing are my fellow linux users... and like Trent, they are catering to us.

    It's really shaping up to be a fantastic time for information and entertainment. Imagine how much more interesting it would be without the ignorant corporates and government types (the ones who just don't get it that is) in the way.
  • by JasonEngel (757582) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:29AM (#22647988)
    I wonder: how many of those 8k concurrent connections are from people who paid the money but couldn't download their digital purchase from NIN.com because of how incapable the servers were of handling the demand? I for one bought the $10+$6.99S&H CD set, then spent the next 6 hours repeatedly trying and failing to download the Apple Lossless files for which I paid. Once those files appeared on The Pirate Bay, I jumped on that torrent and downloaded from there in a matter of minutes. I'm messing with the statistics by doing that, and I would argue that many other people did likewise.
  • by ePhil_One (634771) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:00AM (#22648138) Journal
    What I don't understand is why he didn't offer the whole thing on bit torrent as opposed to 1/4 of it. The whole album is licensed under creative commons, so all the piratebay torrents are totally legal. Why isn't he running his own tracker with a few ads here and there to make a few extra bucks off the freeloaders instead of letting piratebay get the ad revenue?

    Because he'd rather endorse the $5 version of it than the "free" version? How many ad impressions (for other artists, mortgage companies, or other things he doesn't believe in or wish to appear as endorsing) must be made to earn $5? Unbelievable that somebody provides everything you've been asking for and still you want more. Maybe Trent should pay you to try out his songs?

    It's not that he needs the money,

    He doesn't need the money because he doesn't pass up opportunities to make money. He doesn't need money because he charges admitance to his concerts, marks up his T-shirts, etc. There is a relationship between those teo things

  • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MindStalker (22827) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reklatsdnim'> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:45AM (#22648484) Journal
    Sony is making tons of money off the licensing from blue-ray, Sony brand movies are few and far between. One could definately forsee in the near future Sony licensing some type of music version of blue-ray (where the disc are smaller and cheaper because even the FLAC versions of your songs probably won't need 40GB) that will play in blue-ray players as well as other high end equipment. Shrugs, maybe maybe not.
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @10:02AM (#22648650) Journal
    Personally, I wouldn't pre-pay $10 for something I've never heard

    Me either; but then again I work for a living, like you probably do. Ten bucks is a half case of beer, or a CD (or two) from a local band, or a DVD. I guess it's hard to understand the value of something you have in limitless supply, even if it's something everyone is short of. I think those commercials for Donald Trump's "how to get rich" book are hilarious. WTF does someone born into wealth know about GETTING rich?

    I still think $30000 just to record an album is a bit much

    I'm afraid the fellow's not going to get much business. Guys I know are recording in professional studios, and even with cover art, commercial duplication, etc it's only costing them a few thousand. Thirty grand is insanely high. Three grand would garner business, thirty is insane.
  • by Bragador (1036480) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @10:34AM (#22649088)
    What is the price of music ? Why should musicians be less important than people building houses or growing crops ?

    You make the typical error of suggesting that existence has a purpose and yet it doesn't. So whatever you do it is as important, or if you prefer, as unimportant as any other things you could do at that same moment.

    Music is there to improve moral. People play music in stadiums to make the crowd react, they play music in tv shows to impose a mood, people work with songs in their head, etc. When you feel bored you can always whistle a song. Music is much more important than you think for keeping people to work hard and for keeping them happy.

    So yes, musicians deserve to have millions as much as the next guy in society if you base your analysis on usefulness. Sadly, the salary of one's job is not based on how important it is but on how in demand it is.

    Doctors are paid more because not everyone can be accepted at medical school. If anybody could become a doctor and if anybody could finish their medical training at their own pace, we would have much more doctors and they would eventually earn as much as everyone else.

  • I predicted this (Score:2, Insightful)

    by YukiKotetsu (765119) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @11:08AM (#22649546)
    I've been a NIN fan from the moment I heard Pretty Hate Machine, until sometime last year.

    I realized that due to Reznor's accountant blowing most of his money and his now sobriety, he was looking to make a payday.

    First, he has you pay $60 (or $75) to join his exclusive fanclub so you can get special tickets to his concerts, you get first pick, you stand in a special / shorter line, you get into the building early, and you get a card for your wallet to look super cool. I paid for it.

    He has three tours in the same year? I actually went to them all. Two were the same, the third was barely different. Why have another world tour all the sudden yet have it be exactly the same? Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. Each time, the super special tickets I bought were a failure, cannot find the lines to stand in because the signs are not there or knocked over, not allowed in early, no real difference than if I bought from ticketmaster.

    He then releases Year Zero within a year of his last album. I knew he had one last record to make for his contract before he was out, and I consider this one to be the "filler" just to finish his contract. I preordered it from the site he advertized, they send it to me, and I've listened to it once. I don't find it very good. I should have just stolen the music like he told everyone to, funny. The leaked album on a USB drive in a bathroom... haha.

    A song here and there I could like if I listened to them a lot, but it never hooked me like anything else he has done (including movie soundtracks), so it sits gathering dust. Now I see why he told everyone to just steal the album. He'd shout this at his concerts even. He didn't care about this album, and since he was not getting the money from it, it didn't matter.

    Now he releases a bunch of tracks without vocals, and does he tell you to steal it? No, he says here is a taste and if you really want it, you can pay for it, and he'll get all of the money. I would surmise he has put even less effort into this collection of songs since there are not vocals than he did for Year Zero, yet he wants his paycheck. Of course he does, now it directly affects him... don't steal it now, just steal my other albums!

    I'm sorry Mr. Reznor, you've taken me for a ride on my money long enough. You told me to steal the last album, well, I'll be stealing this one instead. If I find I listen to all of your songs more than a couple of times before throwing them away, I will probably pay for them because I am actually honest and believe in paying for what I use. Enjoy your personal gouging of the fans instead of the RIAA gouging of the fans. Same effect, different person.

  • Re:I got it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hsdpa (1049926) * on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @11:19AM (#22649736)
    I completely agree. And yes, I also paid - but after I downloaded the free first volume and listened. This is a perfect example of how artists should promote their music. And the artwork, oh the artwork. Really beautiful.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @12:01PM (#22650400)

    To answer your question, what everyone thinks is so great about the album isn't necessarily just the music, but how it was released. It's the option to listen before you invest that got me. Personally, I like the ambient nature of the album. I think it's great to work to, and the argument that it is too "simple" is like telling Jackson Pollock that your kid could paint that shit - his response: "so what do you have against your kid?" Like a beautiful mountain or a fart in the car, it's there for you to enjoy as much or as little as you want. What NIN has done here is shown us that music doesn't have to be over-produced, over-polished, and over-priced in order for it to be exceptionally profitable. And that is very important for an allegedly ailing music industry.

    The point is, if you enjoy it, great - you can buy more if you want, or even download the torrent of the full thing without paying a dime and no one is going to come after you. And if you don't like it, you haven't lost anything except some time. It is the gesture that's important. I bought the physical media because I like the album enough to do so, and you're free to go back to listening to whatever you were listening to before none the poorer.

    If, in your mind, this is a mediocre album, well that's even more ammunition to fire at the RIAA when you consider that a mediocre album did $750,000 in sales in two days, and that's with the least common price point. If anything, this album is proof that the RIAA is a dinosaur that deserves to go extinct, and making that statement so profoundly makes this album a significant milestone, and a significant work of art.

    Would buy again.

  • Re:I got it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mea37 (1201159) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @12:12PM (#22650558)
    I agree that this is a much better approach than the traditional. I applaud NIN for wanting to find a consumer-friendly way to do business, and for actually getting out there and doing something about it.

    Undeniably this worked beautifully for Ghosts I-IV. I have my doubts that it could work for a lot of music, though. A few points of perspective:

    1) NIN are an established band with a following of fans who would buy a $300 limited edition package. Not all bands have that. And no, it's not just because some bands suck -- it's also because some are just starting out. Could NIN have done this with their first album?

    2) The free release included 1/4 of the material. For a "normal" single-disc mainstream release, that's like releasing two or three tracks for promotional purposes. This is not unusual (though the normal delivery mechanism is "radio" rather than "digital download"). To be fair, there are two major differences:

    a) The scale of the release and the low pricetag for the first paid tier are such that arguably if you pay the $5 you already know you'll get $5 of value, even if you don't like the remaining 3/4 of the music... With mainstream music, you buy a $10-$20 CD and still might only like the two songs you'd already heard... But part of the reason NIN can do that is, they can cut out a middle-man. They don't need a label to make them known -- see point (1) above.

    b) Not clear to me whether the Creative Commons license applies to the whole thing, or just Volume I. If it applies to the whole thing, then presumably there will be a free, legal option for getting the entire release as soon as someone puts it on a p2p network... But whether that's the case, or in any case the impact of that variable on the experiment as a whole, isn't yet clear to me.

    3) One of the big draws of the $75 package vs. the $10 package would be the session .WAV files; this idea lends itself well to some styles of music, but not others IMO. (Of course, it would be up to each artist to figure out what premium offerings would make sense with their particular music. Does every musician have the additional skills and insight to do that? Should every musician have to?)

    The tiered product structure isn't unique, though this takes it up a notch. That's the big thing to me: This is great in that NIN is pushing their product "the right way", but it relies on a little innovation and a lot of leveraging their established position. Not enough innovation to be the future of music; just a step in the right direction.
  • Re:I got it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @01:09PM (#22651516) Journal
    Your first point is well taken... I'm not sure some obscure indy band could get the pull that say a NIN could get... However, NIN and other bands with clout work really hard promoting smaller bands

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Trent using his audience to introduce them into other music from up and coming bands... What a better way to smash the system then to send out an email saying "Hey, this is Trent, I've found an amazing band, why don't you stop by the site, grab a couple free tracks and if you like it, download the whole album".

    Trent could even to a "Trent's band of the week" sort of thing.

    Then he could just work something out with the artist so if the album costs 5 bucks, trent would get 50 cents to pay for the bandwidth with the rest going to the band.
  • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @02:04PM (#22652388) Homepage Journal
    yeah, I like NIN, but I've never purchased an album from until this one. I wouldn't really call myself a fan, but I've always enjoyed his music. I bought it out of support for the whole cause. @ $5, it's totally worth it, and I probably would have wound up aquiring it at a later date anyway.

    Back when CDs were cheaper, I used to buy them if I liked just one song or I liked the cover art or heard them mentioned by another band I liked. A lot of the time, it would turn out that the albums were pretty good and I'd get into that band (The Residents are a great example of this, who I got into because I saw Les Claypool of Primus wearing a Residents shirt). Now, with CDs costing between $15 and $20, and digital tracks costing too much for an inferior product, I find myself only buying music that I know I'll like; most of the time after I've already acquired the album and really like it, and I still feel ripped off.

    This NIN album and Radiohead's In Rainbows were both cheap enough that I didn't feel cheated even if I don't like the album enough to listen to it more than once or twice.
  • Re:I got it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @02:14PM (#22652564) Journal
    Here's the thing though... you can boil the ocean with a magnifying glass, it's all about the size of the magnifying glass.

    I'm sure this already exists, but what there needs to be is a site that would let you discover music based on genre and then would let you sample the music and if you like it, buy the whole album for some price chosen by the artist. Some percentage of that price would go into paying for the site (say 5% or something)

    Offer streams off the site for specific genres so people could just subscribe...

    The biggest issue is finding these bands and getting all the other bits organized.
  • Congratulations! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @03:29PM (#22653774)
    That's great! You got to preview the music, decide what you thought and saved your money. You weren't forced to buy anything and you don't feel cheated. Everything worked, be glad!

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