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Trent Reznor Says "Steal My Music" 637

THX-1138 writes "A few months ago, Trent Reznor (frontman of the band Nine Inch Nails), was in Australia doing an interview when he commented on the outrageous prices of CDs there. Apparently now his label, Universal Media Group is angry at him for having said that. During a concert last night, he told fans, '...Has anyone seen the price come down? Okay, well, you know what that means — STEAL IT. Steal away. Steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin'. Because one way or another these mother****ers will get it through their head that they're ripping people off and that's not right.'"
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Trent Reznor Says "Steal My Music"

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  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:11PM (#20643005)
    This was during a concert, not an interview. A YouTube clip of him talking about it. []
    • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:16PM (#20643119) Homepage Journal
      Thats the exact quote referenced and includes the full reaction from the crowd.
      My only question is did the concert tickets also get cheaper since his last visit?
      Would he recommend people break into the stadium?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:20PM (#20643205)
        >Would he recommend people break into the stadium?

        You're conflating violent crimes with civil infractions again.
      • by xouumalperxe ( 815707 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @06:54PM (#20644489)

        You're comparing apples to oranges.

        On one side, you have a CD: It has a more or less fixed (for any given project) initial production cost, and costs a tiny amount per copy to make virtually limitless amounts of copies of it. On the other side, you have a concert, each night an individual piece of work, with hard-capped supplies for tickets. Of course the prices for one and the prices for the other shouldn't be held to the same standard. It's sort of like expecting oil paintings to be held to the same pricing standards as mass-produced posters.

  • Going indie (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Goose42 ( 88624 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:12PM (#20643027) Homepage
    IIRC, his contract is going to be up soon anyways, and if this is how he feels his company is treating him I doubt he'll sign a new one. With the innovative storytelling he's done with Year Zero, and essentially making open-source music by releasing the original recording data so that anyone can remix it, it'll be interesting to see how he goes about releasing new music without a large distribution network that the major label gives him.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gurps_npc ( 621217 )
      Well, he could use CD Baby or one of the THOUSAND other ways sell your own music over the internet. They would charge about 1% of the fee a standard label charges.

      Then he would have to pay an advertising agency directly to market his stuff. I doubt they would charge more than 5% of what a standard label would charge for a successful album, but he would be taking the risk that the album did not make any money.

      • He's already hit the top of his career. His fans will find him even if he never pays another dollar in marketing.

        In fact, his hard-core fans will probably be happier with him if he never pays another dollar in marketing. :)

        The problem is that the industry is structured to cash in on people like Trent who make millions.

        Then there are the one-hit-wonders. Use them up and spit them out.

        Then there are the hordes looking for a chance to make it big. They can give away their stuff until they're signed. Then the l
      • Re:Going indie (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:16AM (#20648509) Homepage Journal
        I just wanted to say something about CD Baby.

        I love, love, love CD Baby. I really, really do. They are what a label in the 21st century ought to be. The cut they take is perfectly fair, they give you all kinds of tips to help you sell your stuff, and really they just provide the store-front and a way to get your stuff into as many net-storefronts as possible, and they just keep doing more and more about this. I get 62.5 cents per iTunes purchase, several times more than any big-label band would get, regardless of how many I sell. I mean, working with them is SO SWEET. You can download your sales as a spreadsheet, something I do to make sure I'm paid up on my cover songs' licensing deals.

        CD Baby is fuckin' rad, man. They should be the only label any musician should even consider.

        It's hard enough to make money with music without some fucking label assraping you for every dime you "cost" them.
    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:19PM (#20643177) Journal
      My guess is that having his cake and eating it too is a lot more attractive than giving up major label money and moving into the apartment next door to Jonathan Coulton's. But we'll see...
    • Re:Going indie (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:21PM (#20643221)
      If you've followed his career at all, you'd know his current record contract exists only because he had no other choice.

      He was using his own label -- Nothing Records -- to publish his music. He never liked working with the big labels. However, while he was going through some pretty destructive drug use after The Fragile, his partner essentially took the money from Nothing Records and ran. Trent woke up and found himself with no money and no way to make money.

      He signed a multi-album deal to get him enough money to be independent again, but he has become increasingly disgusted by the practices of the label (double dipping by charging Trent to do the color shifting ink label and then still charing the customer more, etc.). IIRC, he's got one album left and then he's free. I'd expect it to be released sometime in 2008 or early 2009, depending on how profitable his tour is. He wants out ASAP.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by c0d3g33k ( 102699 )
        While I applaud the man for his willingness to call out the price gouging practices of the recording industry, this comment gave me pause. If true, then I find it hard to find much respect or sympathy. He *already* had his own label and a popular following, giving him the freedom many other artists will never have, then 'went through some pretty destructive drug use' and woke up and 'found himself with no money and no way to make money'. I'm supposed to respect that? He may be full of righteous anger to
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          He may be full of righteous anger towards his record company, but it sounds like he got what he deserved.

          If you forget to lock your house when you leave for work, do you deserve to have your TV stolen?
    • by tholomyes ( 610627 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:40PM (#20643509) Homepage
      If only there were some sort of large... electronic distribution network he could use... and if he could take those sounds and somehow send them over this network...
  • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:14PM (#20643071)
    Nothing can stop him now.
  • by nih ( 411096 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:15PM (#20643105)
  • Promoter vs Artist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:19PM (#20643195)
    Back to the same old B.S. that has caused turmoil in Hollywood since I can remember.

    Artist makes contract with "BigCo", and "BigCo" agrees to a % of the "sales" as they define them, and then "BigCo" sets the price of the movie, book, or music where they want to get their profits they want. That was the way of the 20th Century.

    In the 19th Century, artists of all types made money on direct sales, direct live acts and there was little other than a shop that might sell works for a % of the sale.

    Now I wonder if the 21st Century Artist is not moving back to the 19th Century methods, where the artist controls things more, since it is the Artist inspiring the viewers, listeners, readers of his work that counts for quality artistic expression. If Artists have something hot, that your subset of the human race likes, the Internet allows those mutual groups to find each other in lots of ways.

    I think the Internet is leveling the playing field, and artists are likely to see a resurgence of interest...provided they have quality work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MontyApollo ( 849862 )
      Most artists seem to jump at the chance of a record contract though, and it appears they prefer the promoter.

      The promoter is generally pretty effective at what they do. Look at all the people who insist on downloading pirated versions of songs that these promoters have convinced them to like, even though there is plenty of music available for free without resorting to pirated copies.

      There are probably a bunch of Britney wannabes trying to get people to listen to their music, but the promotion machine convin
    • the internet has flat out replaced the music publishing business. all we are seeing today in all of these so-called "issues" is the growing pains of moving from the antiquated system to the internet based one

      the internet based one, of course, needs no middleman. so your up and coming artist will put out his shingle, his website, be discovered by someone, and grow a fan base. perhaps he will be plugged on some music portal, online radio. people still need somewhere to go to sample new music. traditional radi
  • by Critical Facilities ( 850111 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:21PM (#20643209)
    I love Trent and think he's a very talented musician, but I'm wondering if someone's back on heroin again. I agree that the music industry is ripping off the artists and the listeners, but when you sign a contract, you agree to many things and it's doubtful that the company with which the agreement was made is going to look fondly on any attempt to decrease what they were promised (i.e. profits).

    Face it Trent, you've still gotta make a few records for them. Do what Prince did, paint 'slave' on your face and release a few "best of NIN" albums and then do whatever you want on your own label or just sell your stuff online, we'll buy it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by thegnu ( 557446 )

      Face it Trent, you've still gotta make a few records for them. Do what Prince did, paint 'slave' on your face and release a few "best of NIN" albums and then do whatever you want on your own label or just sell your stuff online, we'll buy it.

      I think he's working on it. Should everyone just do what Prince did? It seems like that would be unoriginal. And the issue is that he criticized the high prices of CDs, and got attacked for it, so he presents an alternate solution.

      Garth Brooks, with the commercial cl

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by scorp1us ( 235526 )
      One, and only one actually on the current contract.

      Then he has announced his scheme:
      $4 for a digital album (lossy compression)
      Additional $$ for tangible media (CD) and more $$ for artwork. You buy as much as you want, but you start with $4 for the songs - which can be processed/transacted on the cheap. He stands to make way more money at $4 an album than he does at $15 with the record company.
  • by Tungbo ( 183321 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:21PM (#20643211)
    Guess publishers were smarter 2 scores ago.
  • by the_olo ( 160789 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:26PM (#20643289) Homepage

    And is not afraid to go against the labels' will, e.g. see the history behind an eastern egg [] on the "Broken" album:

    They(tvt)wanted a more commercial album and insisted on producers doing his next album. When Trent refused, they told him his album would never get made nor released and denied studio time. The entire Broken album in turn was recorded and written almost entirely while on tour for Pretty Hate Machine. Trent even talks about how they would mix it in hotel rooms,on computers, and hide the names of the song and material with saved names like "pussyfuck".
  • But doesn't stealing something require taking it *WITHOUT* permission?
  • That is not right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moore.dustin ( 942289 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:37PM (#20643459) Homepage
    While I agree with him on this, it is wrong to tell people to steal when you are a role model like he is. I suppose he justified stealing his music by explaining the situation with prices and record labels, but that does not make it right. What next, the CEO from Dell gets leaves and tells everyone that the computers they are buying are way overpriced and that people should try to steal them instead of paying that price? That is a slippery slope obviously. Instead, he should instruct people not to buy it at the price it is and let the people, themselves, figure out how they want to go about not paying for it.

    The correct thing it do here is vote with your dollar - do not pay the prices if they upset you. That said, stealing the goods instead of paying for them is not voting with your dollar, it is stealing. See how that works?
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:49PM (#20643643) Homepage Journal
    instead YOU have stolen our hearts, as ./ers, liberals, geeks, open source people and such.

    what are you going to do about that ?
  • I'm Australian (Score:3, Informative)

    by matt21811 ( 830841 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @05:58PM (#20643755) Homepage
    CD's in this country are not that expensive. I think they have been about $25AU for at least 15 years. Infaltion seems to have had no effect on music. If anything music has gotten cheaper due to the competition from iTunes. I used to buy a lot of CD singles. I have one that still has the price sticker on it, $9! (The average was more like $5.50) Today, I can get a CD single for about $3.50. Not only that but wages growth has exceeded infaltion by a very healthy amount here so I can buy a lot more music that I used to for the same proportion of my income. Music may be cheaper in other parts of the world but it certainly isnt expensive here.

    Concert tickets, on the other hand, now there's inflation. It wasnt that long ago that a concert ticket was the same price as a CD. Now, you can pay 4 to 12 times the price of a CD for a concert ticket.
  • 100,000 CDs a year (Score:4, Informative)

    by athloi ( 1075845 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @06:27PM (#20644175) Homepage Journal
    Major label payout at 10%
    Wholesale price: $9 / 90 cents per CD = $90,000.00

    Selling as independent artist and Amazon(tm) Partner
    Staff member to mail packages: $30,000 per year
    Cost per CD, printing: $1
    Cost per CD, packaging and mailing: $4
    Cost per year: $530,000 on revenues of ($15 CD) $1.5m

    Net: $1m

    Going indie is not just more trendy, it's more profitable, once you've already got that mega-media marketing machine convincing 100,000 people they need to buy your (mediocre) music.
  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @06:29PM (#20644215)
    Does this really matter? After all, it isn't his music anymore, he signed those rights away. He can't give permission to steal it. Wonder if he meant actually stealing the CDs from the stores, or downloading it. Those are 2 different things as we all know.

    Unfortunately, we are in the scenario where an artist that people will listen to (read: popular) got that way because of the RIAA and the industry they are in... they have likely signed a long-term contract. Once they are out of that contract, the general population won't really care about them (read: Pearl Jam, Prince) and they will kind of fade away. Personally, I like all of these acts I have named, but they aren't in the main spotlight anymore. This is a system that the RIAA has created, and unless someone can a) gain huge popularity without them and b) stay out of their clutches, it won't seem possible to break out of their system.

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @06:40PM (#20644321) Journal
    You know something is wrong when the MUSIC COMPANY gets pissed at their artist for saying this? WTF, since when did they become the boss, and not the artist? The music company EXIST solely because of the artists and things like lots of annoying sound compressed advertisements (as much as their sold music is) on TV. Let them say whatever they want, and you better just focus on pushing your damn ads everywhere. Musicians barely even need their studios anymore since we entered the digital age and it started maturing to push down artists. Music companies need to come down to earth and realize what duty they have here. The artists are the masters, and they are given their jobs thanks to them. Show them the respect that's due, or if you don't agree, just shut up?
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @06:40PM (#20644325) Homepage Journal
    You could really help me out if you shared my music [] on the Internet.

    If you play piano, there's sheet music available for two of my songs, with the rest coming sometime soon.

    It's all completely legal to share, as it has a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license. You can create derivative works such as remixes, and even sell my work or perform it in front of a paying crowd, but you must share alike - that is, give your derivative works the same license.

    Why am I doing this? I am studying both piano and music theory with the aim of going back to school someday to major in musical composition. I want to compose symphonies.

    I'll be in my fifties by the time I graduate - I can't afford to spend years building up a fan base. So when your local symphony orchestra plays my work, I want there to already be a loyal fan base in your city.

    Thanks for your help!

  • To Show My Support (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rossz ( 67331 ) <ogre@geekbiker.nFORTRANet minus language> on Monday September 17, 2007 @07:44PM (#20645135) Homepage Journal
    I'm going to run out and buy their latest CD.

    Oh, wait .....

  • It's a sham. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @08:00PM (#20645329)
    So Trent acts out his persona and the bigwigs at Universal do their thing and pretend to be totally P.O.ed about it. If they really wanted to stop him, they could.

    Meanwhile, the story gets out and more people hear what a rebel Trent Reznor and NiN is. More people download the music... and at the same time, more people go to the record store and buy the over-priced CDs.

    It reminds one of the way Microsoft pretends to hate piracy, but knows full well that the more people pirate Windows, the more people buy it. The big labels must be realizing that the more people pirate their music, the more people will buy it.

    Culture is somewhat analogous to platform.
  • Stealing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpghost ( 719344 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @09:13PM (#20646063) Homepage
    Wait a moment here! Isn't that a hidden subliminal pernicious message from a RIAA artist: that sharing of music files is actually stealing? But is it really? Since when has it become common to call copying (not moving) of bytes "stealing" instead of "duplicating"? If at all, duplication contributes to the author's popularity, and increases his (but especially his label's) wealth out of residual CD and concert tickets sales. Wouldn't that be free advertising, the very opposite of stealing?
  • It's what he does. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tchdab1 ( 164848 ) on Monday September 17, 2007 @09:39PM (#20646227) Homepage
    But besides the IP issues, you signed a contract with Trent Reznor!
    You signed a contract with a performer who features bondage, torture, humiliation, S&M, and extreme interpersonal conflict.

    I think the record company should feel fortunate that they are only being humiliated from the stage, and not in Reznor's basement.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll