back to article Nine Inch Nails cracks net distribution (maybe)

Nine Inch Nails founder Trent Reznor has become the latest recording artist to bypass the traditional music distribution machine by releasing a 36-track album over the internet. The album, titled Ghosts I-IV, is available on the band's official website for prices that range from free to $300 depending on the package. Reznor is …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
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    I followed the viral release of Year Zero ( NIN last album ) and it was interesting to say the least - it rivals LOST in its complexity

    When i saw them at Manchester it was common knowledge that the tracks were being leaked by the band leaving USB's at gigs ... the guitarist was stood near the bogs with a bouncer and i KNEW that they were gonna plant a USB there , but didnt wanna seem like a stalker and Ladytron were playing . Then , When i got home the first video had leaked - Survivalism - Mannnnnnnn i was so close to that USB its untrue and now ....well ...its gone forever ....

    Still , Maybe what should have also been noted is the fact that before todays release the posting on linked to a story regarding NIN's old label going into administration ...Double hit back at the Industry 'tards....

  2. s. pam Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Reznor's a genius, the RIAA a joke

    This follows onto his interview in the Sydney Morning Herald about 4 months ago where he made is painfully clear his intention was to fsck the record companies. He went so far as to tell readers where to go on BitTorrent to grab the previous new album and stitch the execs. Reznor's clearly experimenting with ways to increase his take home pay, as Courtney Love wrote online in 2000 for how little musicians get. Good on you Mr. Reznor -- well done!

  3. Morely Dotes
    Thumb Up

    OK, I'm in

    Not so much of a NIN fan, perhaps, but I'll pop $5 to encourage the distribution model - and the "music industry" isn't getting a penny of it, it's all for the artists.

    But I may wait a few days to let the download Zerg settle out a bit.

  4. Mark Craig
    Thumb Up


    Someone who is taking the idea of internet music distribution seriously.

    This effort ticks all the boxes - high quality, no DRM, sensible pricing and lots of content. As well as giving people the option to buy the physical item, too.

    It's a package that actually respects the individuals buying the content, instead of labelling them all as potential criminals, like DRM seems to do.

    Hats off to Trent. (I might buy this for $5, even though I dislike NiN, just to support this kind of venture).

  5. tom_mandory

    smh article?

    if you had actually opened your wallet and seen him at the horden, you would have heard him tell you to download it

  6. ysth

    CDN, anyone?

    Makes no sense for individuals to try to serve large files whose demand may spiky.

  7. Michael Sheils
    Thumb Up

    Don't care about the extra content

    But I gave my money regardless, I like what they are doing.

  8. Bob Appleyard
    Thumb Up

    Embracing BitTorrent indeed

    Well, there's a /. discussion on it, and someone recommended The Pirate Bay, so I did a search and got the download(s). When I opened it up there was a readme with this as the first line:

    "This torrent is an official upload from Nine Inch Nails."


  9. Jeff Williams


    Im in,these guys tend to know what they're doing.

  10. Justin Clift

    18% chose the paid option... that's pretty good!

    If 18% of people visiting their site to get their music choose a pay option - and if that scales - that's indeed a very good indication a profitable business model can be found going forwards.

    Good luck to them. :)

  11. Seán

    Such a pity

    It is such a pity that nin are a petulant bunch of whiners, just like their pasty faced fans. I'd rather download a recording of a 3 year old throwing a tantrum in a supermarket.

  12. thomas k.


    Reznor - that name sounds familiar. He wrote the music for a couple of video games, right?

    I take it this Nine Inch Nails is a band of some sort - hope that's going well for him and that this distribution thing proves successful.

  13. Michael Greenhill

    @ tom_mandory

    In terms of what Trent was trying to achieve (grease up and fsck the music industry), an article in a mass-distrubuted paper like the SMH is better than telling a few hundred/thousand people at a gig - especially when half of them would either be too drunk or stoned to comprehend what he was saying.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    the problem

    the problem is that this is only going to work for him because he is an inovator and a lot of people, as written here, will be happy to spend $5 just to push the business model, or try and help a new world order. that sort of thing.

    this is not a business model that would work. if all artists did this, then few people would pay, because it is no longer special. and you would be in a similar situation to where you are now, where everybody tries to get everything for free, as much as possible, as quickly as possible.

    in essence, people dont value music or film at the same rate that the producers of it do. a really new business model needs to be created for a whole industry to keep going. and people are leaving themselves little choice by all their bittorrenting, that one of the only sure ways to keep music and film as an industry will be to pump it full of money-generating google-ads or something, like US cable TV.

    in the meantime, hats off to the guy for trying to inovate, and i hope he makes a stack of cash from people before the bubble bursts. anyway, i have to stop writing now as i need to be surfing isohunt for the latest movies and music to download that i dont really want to listen to or watch.

  15. Rowley
    Thumb Up

    Got it - eventually

    The model I think is sound, a free version (a teaser so to speak), and different versions, which are chargable. He got my $5, and it goes direct - something that a lot of fans like. Ghost I, for people who got the free version, I'm sure will be left wanting,

    Now that The NIN webteam know how much bandwidth they need for a release.

    It's still early days for this model and I thank Trent Reznor for getting involved.

  16. Jason Edmunds
    Paris Hilton

    NINNY Who?

    Can I just clarify something here? Without a recording industry absolutely nobody would have the faintest idea who Nine Inch Nails are.

    Now that they're popular(ish), they can bite the hand that fed them their success, but who's gonna find the Next Big Thing and work to bring their work to our attention? Who's going to figure out which bands are good enough for people to want to buy their stuff? For those who haven't realised, THIS is the factor that make the difference between 'another band' and 'The Next Big Thing'.

    Yes the recording industry needs to get up to date but without it we'll all drown in the vast quantities of trash available online without a filter to organise it.

    That filter is 'Which band is good enough to buy?'.

    Even Paris could figure that out.

  17. Dave Harris
    Thumb Up


    have been offering their stuff for download for years, albeit at just below their normal CD price for 256Kbps mp3. They seem to be making money from it as well. They also have a novel way of financing (som of) their albums - people pay for them up front and get their name in the sleeve notes. I think for Marbles, in 2004, there were 15,000 people mentioned.

  18. John Stag


    Would it really be so hard for them to put the free stuff on a different server so the paying customers get decent service?

    This isn't rocket science.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Not only good news then for the fans who are suddenly getting 2 albums in a year, but also for the FU to the record industry.

    It also seems Trent was pretty quick in dropping HD-DVD, seeing there is only a BluRay in the deluxe package ;)

    @thomas k: he did the music for Quake 1 (which explains the Nail gun and the NiN logo on the nail-ammo boxes) and Ghosts actually is a bit like that. More ambient soundscapes, with some harsh moments. It will be a relieve to Seán then that there are no vocals on Ghosts, which tends to cut back on any whining.

    The only nitpick I have is that the shipping costs of the physical packages to Europe is 'a bit steep' ($50 for the deluxe, and $70 for the Uber package).

    Given the current exchange rates, that should equal about 2 packs of cigarettes.

  20. adnim

    Way to go Trent.

    Wonderful! We need more of this, cutting out the parasitical middle man gets my support every time. I am hoping that all musicians, I mean musicians, not mime artists and producers' sock puppets adopt this approach to music distribution.


    Petulance? Thank you for exemplifying this in your comment. I can only imaging one is pissed at having to pay full price for Westlife and Sugarbabe drivel.

  21. Hugh_Pym

    Workable Model

    Any known artist can make money from their music this way. Maybe not the untold millions they could from what the sex pistols told us 30 years ago was 'the great rock and roll swindle' but a good return on their efforts. After all should writing a half decent pop song entitle you mansions round the world and a private jet?

    New artists are obviously going to require a platform of some sort but not one which is controlled by an industry whose only concern is 'how can we get the most for giving the least'.

    I for one welcome a world where people like talentless self publicist Simon Cowell can become rich by hanging on the coat tails of those who actually create something.

  22. Steve
    Thumb Down

    Critisism of radiohead

    What's the little quip about radioheads download being pointless due to only being 160kbps mp3.

    I'd be surprised if the author can really identify by listening the difference between 160/320 or lossless formats.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Didn't work for me

    I bought the $10 version and the download constantly stopped after about 200k. Repeated attempts to download it brought the "download limit exceeded" message, and my email to the NIN store (following the "if you have problems with your download" link) have so far not produced a response. Gutted. Hope it is resolved soon.

  24. Mark

    Trent Reznor - A true innovator

    As I understand it,Trent Reznor is NIN, that is he writes the music and then creates it by himself, playing all the instruments and mixing the tracks himself. He only 'uses' fellow musicians to play live, where he obviously cannot play all the instruments simultaneously!

    His music has always been innovative and to me he seems now to be just as innovative in the way he gets his music to his fans, as he is in creating it.

    Some may not of heard of him, but anyone who has ever been to a club that plays 'industrial' type music (e.g Friday's at the Electric Ballroom - Camden) would of been hearing his work since 1988-89. As such much of the promotion of his work has always been 'viral', or in other words pretty much little thanks to his record company.Lots of his work has also been used in film & TV, e.g. Natural Born Killers etc. (check out IMDB), but due to the type of music it is and its appeal.

    I think he will be just as successful now as he has been in the past, just with more creative control and seeing a greater return from people who like his music. I think anyone who makes music people actually like, should take note and could do the same.

  25. Gabor Laszlo
    Thumb Up


    For someone smart enough to put up the free tracks on torrent, I'm surprised it didn't occur to him to put the paid-for stuff on a private tracker instead of trying to handle all the bandwidth himself.

    BTW, I kindof like Ghosts I, sounds like great BG music for coding :)

  26. Steve

    Re: NINNY Who?

    "Who's going to figure out which bands are good enough for people to want to buy their stuff? For those who haven't realised, THIS is the factor that make the difference between 'another band' and 'The Next Big Thing'."

    Bullshit. Record companies don't look for what's good, they look for what they can market. If you need proof, look at the singles chart and look at the album chart. The former is what the labels would like to deal with, the latter is something they have to put up with because people still know how to choose music for themselves in spite of all the marketing. The whole concept of "The Next Big Thing" is part of the problem with the major labels in that artists are treated like a consumable commodity. Wring as many songs/rights out of them as possible pay them as little as possible and then move on to the next victim.

    "Yes the recording industry needs to get up to date but without it we'll all drown in the vast quantities of trash available online without a filter to organise it."

    You muppet. It's the record industry that's pumping out the shit that makes it hard to find quality music. If you want a filter, try a radio station, the last thing you should do is ask a label to be that filter. That's like asking a car salesman to tell you which car would be best for you to buy - will they sell you what's best or what gives them the most commision?

  27. Andrew Meredith

    @Jason Edmunds

    [[[ Can I just clarify something here? Without a recording industry absolutely nobody would have the faintest idea who Nine Inch Nails are.

    Now that they're popular(ish), they can bite the hand that fed them their success, but who's gonna find the Next Big Thing and work to bring their work to our attention? ]]]

    Wow! Are we really that brainless? I know that we have become addicted to the jollop dealt out by the big boys, but are we really that convinced that we can't do without their benign dictatorship? Time was when we had DJs, friends, local venues etc etc to find stuff we liked. We still do, but their job seems to have become a shedload easier. Now, it seems, they just do what they are told by the big media companies. And the result of this brave new world? Complete PAP that's driving the younger generation to buy up back catalogues of 70s and 80s rock bands; Led Zep, Floyd etc.

    Anything new and innovative is a risk. Corporations don't like risks. They're far happier stacking the odds by putting together the "Perfect Band"; right look, right songwriters, right sound. The humanoids in the band itself might just as well be CGI, like in the film.

    We know the power of "The Viral". We have the means of reproduction. All that is needed is an easy to use sales model that a new band can use to host the monetising section of their overall operation. Hopefully NiN can help work out what this looks like. I'm off to buy a copy. I haven't heard it yet, but I like a lot of their stuff, so $5 doesn't seem like to much for a punt. Wow again. Just like the old days. The price of a single was just little enough to be "Worth a Punt". What goes around, comes around eh :)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Only 18% or 18% wow

    Why do we have to report this negatively?

    So 18% of people paid at least $5. If this continues and total downloads equal 5 million worldwide (which is easily acheivable given the worldwide market he is selling to).

    Then he will receive a minimum of $4.5million.

    Secondly 82% of people who downloaded have been exposed to his music as potential future customers. Would they have bought the CD in a shop? Of course not. But now a small percentage may purchase the fuller version or perhaps a future release.

    Now that proves this is a viable business model for artists, just not for record companies.

    Good work fellas.

  29. Hayden Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It's all about price

    If the price is low enough, then the hassle factor (and possible getting-cut-off) of piracy becomes the bigger issue. $5? £2.60? There's a *lot* of music buyers who'd spring for that as an impulse purchase.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jason Edmunds

    "...Without a recording industry absolutely nobody would have the faintest idea who Nine Inch Nails are.

    "...who's gonna find the Next Big Thing and work to bring their work to our attention? Who's going to figure out which bands are good enough for people to want to buy their stuff?"

    Teh Intarwebnet. Anyone can publish. Word gets round. Or at least that's the hope. And maybe some good bands that don't fit the preconceptions of some A&R wonk will actually get a break this way. Or at least be able to make a living.

    "...without it we'll all drown in the vast quantities of trash available online ...."

    As opposed to drowning in the vast quantities of trash the record companies try and foist on us for unjustifiable prices.

    "That filter is 'Which band is good enough to buy?'."

    If you use that filter, then none of the bands currently producing content is good enough to buy, because they're all being downloaded. Also, you'll find that that filter is heavily biased by the amount of money the marketing departments spend on a given bunch of talentless nerks with "individualistic" hairdos and perfect teeth.

  31. Gaz
    Thumb Up

    Its the shareware model...

    Once, they used to make games that gave a few initial levels for free (or apps with the basic functions), and then one had to pay a smidge of cash for the rest. Fact is though, it was quite a popular method for working out what one wished to pay for.

    Shame the old model is a shadow of it former glory, with the twin forces of FOSS and Big Business capitalism polarising the market, but it may ... just ... work in this new incarnation!

  32. Ben Mathews
    Thumb Up

    Good News...

    The fact that it's killed their servers shows it's been more popular than they expected. Would be interesting to know what volume of traffic they forecast and what they received.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jason Edmunds

    Wtf? As a kid, every record I ever bought was recommended through friends. Today, a lot of music knowledge seems to come from recommendations; see MySpace, etc. How the hell does the recording industry influence my musical tastes? They can advertise as much as they like and I'll ignore them as I do all adverts. Word of mouth and playing warm up at another band's gig - these are the advertising models for (non-manufactured) music. Go back to your pop.

  34. Scott Mckenzie


    Bring the discs round to mine and i'll tell you the difference between the 160/320/Lossless and the CD on my hifi.... not all of us have a JVC micro system you know.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    have to agree with dave harris...

    (no relation)

    All credit to Trent with the online contribution, but Marillion has had the rest of the business model sorted for quite some time.

  36. Mike Crawshaw

    Even if I didn't know them..

    At that price I'd be willing to "give them a try". I used to do that, back in the day when record stores had more-reasonably-priced music and a decent selection - before it was £15 an album / "you may select from this approved list of cloned artists".

    If the concept takes off, I'd be willing to pay £2.50 to sample a lot of bands. If I like em, I'd buy more of their work. If I don't, I delete the tracks and I've lost less than the price of a pint. I won't, however, go into HMV or wherever and spring £15+ on the off-chance that I might like someone, the way I'd try a tape/LP when I was a kid.

    As it is, I've liked NiN for years, so I'll be springing for some of this once the initial frenzy dies down and they increase the availability.

  37. The Avangelist
    Thumb Up

    Without a record industry

    To whoever it was above who stated that nobody would know who NiN are without an industry, yes you're right.

    I have been a fan since his first release, and if it wasn't for TVR and Island and his own psuedo label Nothing I would never have heard them.

    That does not however give the labels the right to violate their contracts as they have done in Trent Reznor's own well documented suites and cases against the relevant labels.

    You certainly don't expect that when you sign to a small indipendant label that in 6 months time they will sell themselves to a major and your ass with it!

    It happens all the time, there are only 3 Record labels in the entire world. Almost all others are owned or distributed by these 3 conglomerates.

    It is just like when Mushroom, One Hut, and Little Indian got bought by Infectious then Virgin bought Infectious. Every artists got royall screwed over.

    I think it is brilliant, I have always stated as a musician myself that self release is the best way to go if what you are doing you care about and money is not so important, fortunately for Mr Self Distruct he is sat on a sensibly fat bag of cash so can get away with.

  38. Mark
    IT Angle

    Re: the problem

    So "the problem" is that people will only pay good money for quality stuff?

    That's only a problem if you think you suck as an artist, surely.

  39. Rob Crawford

    Goodluck to Reznor

    Firstly I will point out that the artists are paid an advance that covers all recording, packaging, video and promotional costs. This is then paid back from the pitiful royality rates that the artists are paid.

    The record company who claims the lions share of the keeps all that money as profit. This in turn leaves the band/artist in debt to the record company. The majority of bands break up and go back to working on the building site, allowing the companys to hang on to the profits while the ex members fight with each other about who got the money.

    Additionally the record industry dislike even paying the artists their royalitys and payments often come in over 10 years late. For every recording artist with a Porche theres 20 record company execs with Ferraris.

    I would suggest that anybody who claims that the Music Biz does anything for artists read Roger McGuinns (founder of the Byrds) presentation to the US congress @

    Or search for Andy Partridges (of XTC) experience of the record companys deliberately not even paying the pitiful royalitys owed to the bands

    Any artist signed to a record company will tell you a similar story. I want the majority of the money I pay for an artists material to go to the artist as they are the ones that do the work and take the risks.

    Any artist that makes money usually makes it from the broadcast and publishing rights.

  40. Lul Whut

    "you always were the one to show me how..."

    Way back when (circa 1993-5, haha) I worshiped Trent as a musical genius... Around that period I bought four copies of PHM (my favourite album) due to constantly having it bumped/given away at parties or what have you... Now in 2008 I find myself having not financially supported him as an artist or having cared for his music in over a decade; yet with this model, I am springing for the deluxe package just because it's the way to go... and of course, for a bit of musical nostalgia :)

  41. adnim

    The quality debate

    160/256/320 or lossless? On a PC through cheap speakers via an integrated sound chip most would be pressed to tell the difference. Invest in a decent HiFi and one can't help but tell the difference, even between vinyl and CD, vinyl masters and regular pressings.

    I listen to a great deal of music in my car, and I can tell the difference between different bitrate mp3 and CD audio, I use a mid-range after market head unit, stock speakers and a sub, nothing particularly fancy or expensive. The difference is marked, even bouncing over our potholed roads.

    Bands promoting themselves via the interweb thingy.. If they have good product the word will spread. OK, somewhat slower than would be achieved by the media moguls throwing out adverts. However, this will sort those who want celebrity and use music to make a quick dollar whilst being shafted by the corps, from those who make music because they have something to say, and/or make music for the sheer love of it. Much of the greatest music I have ever heard has come from unsigned bands.

    @ Steve.. Re:Ninny who. Well said.

  42. Steven Bloomfield
    Thumb Up


    Getting 200KB/s download speed so it's not so bad.

    File is 283MB for the MP3 format.

    I can't believe people have never heard of NIN!

  43. Jared Earle

    Bosh, done, etc.

    Read the article on my iPhone on the bus, paid $5 by paypal on the train, arrived at work with the email link, downloaded as Apple Lossless.

    This is how simple it should be.

    ps. The $300 version sold out.

  44. Dan

    @Jason Edumunds

    "Who's going to figure out which bands are good enough for people to want to buy their stuff? For those who haven't realised, THIS is the factor that make the difference between 'another band' and 'The Next Big Thing'."

    Tsk tsk you just don't get it do you.

    Artist - Someone who enjoys playing/singing, etc, and wants to get their work out there, and hopefully get some money for it, but the money isn't the important part

    Recording Company - Don't care about the artist, or the consumer, and just want money.

    Hopefully Trent Reznor can promote this method of distribution more and we can see other bands and singers using this method. Its how many smaller artists are doing it now and some are having success. Lilly Allen started on Myspace and built up a following there and then broke the mainstream.

    The best way really would be one or a few central music repositories of artists where any artist/band can upload their songs for purchasable download. It will allow more people to be recognised. The only problem is the costs for the hardware and bandwidth. Perhaps some minor charge on top to cover the hardware/bandwidth costs so no monthly subscription is required. So you can basically just turn up, choose what you want, pay for it, and download it :)

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Nine Inch Nails experiment is a lot easier to take seriously. That's because Reznor has made the album available in both lossless and high-bit rate formats. Radiohead's In Rainbows, by contrast, came as only a 160 kbps MP3, which hardly seemed worth the time it took to download it."

    And CD and Vinyl were also available from the site at a cost of £40 (not too far off the $75 that Trent is charging for his mid-range product). So you are wrong - it wasn't "only" released as a 160kbps MP3.

    "Oh, and the album is no longer available as an online download. Radiohead singer Thom Yorke later dismissed a net-only album paradigm, saying people want to buy a tangible object rather than a download. Makes you wonder why Britain's favorite navel gazers bothered in the first place."

    Apart from the fact that the album sales vindicated Thom Yorke's decision to release the album in the stores, let's compare this to the next statement:

    "And just in case this net distribution thing doesn't take off, Ghosts I-IV is also available as a regular CD in retail stores."

    Makes you wonder why Trent bothered in the first place? No, it makes me wonder why you bothered writing this junk Dan.

    Dan, you're obviously not a fan of Radiohead and obviously a fan of NiN. I personally am a fan of both yet don't appreciate seeing your prejudice here attempting to taint the views of others. I wonder what your motivation is as you seem more interested in decrying Radiohead's efforts than reporting objectively.

    Radiohead did what they did. I applaud them for it. Trent has just done this, obviously influenced in some part by Radiohead and learning from the feedback that Radiohead got over their distribution method, he has improved on it and I applaud him for it. Why do you choose to state that what Radiohead did was somehow wrong?

    I'll quote The Strangler's (who never gave an album away online): You're brain's exposed and it's starting to show your rotten thoughts yeuch.

    More facts and less subjective opinion in future please Dan.

  46. Paul M.

    Thumbs up for poor artists

    More Freetards advocating poverty as a lifestyle. Sheesh -

    >> "We know the power of "The Viral"

    Yes, it's the best marketing strategy to take if you want to stay completely obscure. Or are a hobbyist, and don't care.

    The first thing that bands who've gained a "viral" following on the Internet do is sign a record contract.

    Why do you think that is?

  47. John
    Thumb Up

    Listening to it now

    Just paid my $5 = £2.50!! for 36 tracks. Downloaded at my 260 kb/s limit. Sounds very experimental and good so far. Here comes track 5......

    ....well done Trent.

  48. Stan
    Thumb Up

    He da man

    Trent Reznor, YOU ARE DA MAN! You have my $5 and I'm feeling guilty for getting 36 tracks of FLAC for a lot less than the price of a pint, so when the vinyl comes out I'll be getting that too.

    THIS is the future of music distribution, anyone can afford $5 for a clean, simple download and putting it out lossless or high bitrate is the kind of quality this guy deserves so much respect for.

    Rick Rubin, listen up. Ditch columbia or force them to run with this, you have no choice, you will be assimilated :) And Slayer, you run with the same plan and I will NEVER support the conventional means of music distribution again.

    Oh...and the NIN site works 100% with konqueror, and on a little 800x600 screen too :)

    I'm still feeling guilty for only paying $5, a few not-in-yer-face checkboxes for an extra few dollars to a few charities wouldn't (in my opinion) be in any way out of order, or maybe an extra dollar for an interview vidio etc.

    My god, if this keeps up I'm going to have to start respecting America again ;)


  49. Shakje

    As I say every time someone says the "you need record companies to get known"

    Arctics disprove this overwhelmingly.

    Will look at this, possibly impulse buy. People don't hear tracks because of the record industry, they hear them because of word of mouth, through friends, through radio. On that note, check out my mate's band bandsideproject on myspace :)

    Also, I hate being pedantic on the tubes, but confusing suite with suit makes me giggle.

  50. Graham Bartlett

    Making money from music

    "Any artist that makes money usually makes it from the broadcast and publishing rights"

    Actually many artists that make money make it from performing. There's this myth that record sales are the only way to make money. But remember that record sales go through the band's label, whereas performance profits go straight to the band in most cases (unless the label is fronting the money for the tour). This is particularly true for bands who don't have an army of international fans buying their CDs.

    And as much as I hate record companies, it certainly is true that anyone of any ability can record something and post it on Myspace. Give someone a PC, a cheap mic and a cheap audio interface, and they reckon they can compete with Trevor Horn. Some of them can. Most of them can't. For demos, this kind of quality is fine, but you wouldn't expect to pay for demo-quality material. And that's just recording quality - the quality of songwriting, arrangement and performance is another matter again.

    Does Myspace act as a platform for talent? Yes, to some degree. But it also acted as a platform for whiny untalented chavs like Lily Allen and Kate Nash. Cream does rise to the top, sure - but turds float too.

  51. Cameron Colley

    Damn, why didn't I get an email?

    I received a lovely email from the official website informing me of the last album, but not this one :(.

    Anyhow -- well don Trent! I shall be buying a copy of the album as soon as I get home.

    Re: comments about Marillion -- I'm glad someone else noticed them -- much as I'm a fan of Trent's work (an less so of Marillion's), I think Marillion deserve much more credit in the "sticking it to the man" stakes.

  52. OldDogNewWalk
    Thumb Up

    Now I will buy music again

    I gave up buying music & movies after rootkits appeared on commercial products.

    I have never heard NIN music but for $5 it has to be worth trying the FLAC download. Thats less than it costs me to drive to the shops.

    Well done that man.

  53. Luke Wells
    Thumb Up


    Absolutely superb distribution model.

    I am off to pay my $5 just to show support!

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Still not working for me

    And the error I'm getting when I try to download my copy says "Please click the download link in your origional [sic] email".

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jason Edmunds

    Jason Edmunds wrote:

    Can I just clarify something here? Without a recording industry absolutely nobody would have the faintest idea who Nine Inch Nails are.

    Absolute rubbish. These days the Internet has enabled "popular" stuff to reach the masses, be it a new band, a new blog, new computer software etc.

    In my opinion we don't need to record labels as they were a decade ago. It doesn't cost much to produce a decent album, under $1m for sure. The much reduced revenue required after the record labels are stripped out, doesn't need to come from recorded music sales - it can come from live performances and broadcast royalties.

  56. M Anton

    No one's mentioned Year Zero remixed

    This wiki is good enough as a start point

    On the (data) DVD is every individual instrument track of every song, allowing you to remix what ever you like and also share with everyone.

    Now I believe this is a first and is testament to the man's commitment to making his music available in every possible manner.

    Can anyone imagine MS releasing source code for an app??? .... errrm guess not....

  57. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up

    ONLY 18 percent?

    I'm surprised he/they thought 18 percent conversion rate was poor. When there are two almost identical products, and one is free, I think it's pretty amazing (and encouraging) that nearly one in five chose to pay.

  58. Shakje

    Re: Graham Bartlett

    But I'd counter by saying that the reason Lily Allen and Kate Nash sell more is because of their huge backing by the record industry, which leads to them being played every 20 minutes on the radio. If you have the same song pounded into you for hours on end you will learn to like such classics as Cliff Richard's Millenium Prayer, and Lionel Richie's Hello (and yes, he has created some pretty good stuff, this is not it.). If we reverted to a society where people listened to what they liked, instead of what they listened to BECOMING what they liked because of repeated exposure, it doesn't matter how things float, the ones that sound good do well at gigs, and slowly get a following, even if they have bad recording quality and then can afford proper recording equipment, the ones that have pap songs, no-one cares about, no matter how good the song sounds, and everybody wins.

  59. Shakje


    They've already sold out of the 2500 $300 ultimate editions...

  60. Chris Cheale

    five bucks - less after conversion

    Blimey - £2.60ish - as soon as I get home tonight then - hell, at that price I'll probably order the CD from MNS as well (I like having the physical). Saw NIN live when they played the Wolves civic - even in a fairly small venue like that their stage show was fantastic - one of the best bands I've seen live, not _quite_ as good as Rammstein, but hey they were in a bigger venue - would definitely see NIN again and will definitely buy this album.

    Most of what I listen to these days has been found through places like Farcebook (iLike) or CNET (; lots of unsigned/indie bands in one big repository. Then I find similar music (recomendations normally) and buy albums here and there, normally through smaller specialist record shops.

    You really, really DO NOT need the record companies to get known - it used to be people like John Peel (RIP) or Tommy Vance (again RIP) - late night slots on the radio where they had a bit of leeway. Hell, lots of unsigned bands sent them demo tapes, some got airplay. What you used to need the record companies for was dealing with volume distribution once people started to find out about you - in the pre-"Stock, Aitken & Waterman" era anyway.

    When the distribution channels attempt to create "artists" to sell, it all goes horribly wrong, which is what's happened.

  61. Steven Foster
    Thumb Up

    Very nice!

    I don't mind NiN. Admittedly I haven't really paid for their music before, (Either borrowed a friends CD or downloaded it off BitTorrent, which apparently they don't mind anyway so I don't feel as guilty now :P) but I'm definitely willing to pay £2.50 for a full, high quality album, even if it isn't that good.

    This is how all music should be.

  62. Caspian Prince

    Indie gaming's been doing it for years

    We've been doing "free demos" with limited content and looking at optimising our conversion rates with clever upsell techniques for years and years now at Puppygames and then this music guy suddenly does exactly the same thing the rest of us have been doing since teh intarnets were invented and he's hailed as a genius?? Gah. Is there something fundamentally wrong with everyone in the music industry?

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    New NIN stuff, yay! I have been a big fan for more years than I care to remember.

    I would point out, however - Trent has made a cartload of cash throughout his career and this enables him to produce his own stuff, in professional studios, with access to top notch gear and the ability to source distribution. If he tried to start off, as a nobody, without a record label it is likely (sadly, mind) that we wouldn't have ever heard of him.

    People who use the Arctic Monkeys as an example of a band who made it via you-tube, or whichever site it was, forget that the vast majority of people heard of them after they were being publicesed by a professional record label, with all the access to good studio equipment that this allows. If the AMs were synth based, it is likely that you would never have heard of them, due to the expense of the equipment.

  64. marc

    I don't get this....

    So one perspon buys the top version and uploads a Torrent of it... back to where we started! Honest people paying for it, and scroungers downloading it for free.

  65. J-Wick
    Thumb Up

    Late-night radio....

    I know no-one likes the Beeb round here, but I've gotta lot of respect for their evening & late-night DJs as far as good music & new bands to check out...

    May buy NIN just for the hell of it!

  66. Matthew Leathes
    Thumb Down

    enough with the Radiohead bashing

    What is it with the constant Radiohead bashing at El Reg?

    I guess it's that good old British attitude of having a go at anyone who dares to be intelligent, innovative and different.

    "We don't do that sort of thing over here, you know. Stick on the 'Best of Cliff Richard' and turn the stereo up to 11!"

  67. George Johnson
    Thumb Up

    Great idea

    You get the music in digital format by paying the running costs on the servers to obtain it plus a cut for the artist. If you like it, buy it again in hard copy with extras to make sure you get something worthwhile for your cash. Don't like NIN myself not heavy enough, I like a good blast of black or death metal, but I whole-heartedly support the man in this venture. He's always been willing to try something new, so good luck to him, I hope it works and sets a good precedent for others to follow.

  68. David S

    Fuck, yeah!

    This is more like it.

    Let's face it, £2.60 is bargain-bin prices for (IMHO) top-notch product. What's not to like? If all music was available on a similar model, we'd be able to sample half-a-dozen different artists' work for the price of a single album; those are good odds for finding some birlliant music.

  69. Luther Blissett

    @ "Britain's favorite navel gazers"

    I think you just killed a lot of peoples' cats, Dan, and they are so pissed. Personally, I think you were generous ascribing to them the minimal but necessary intentionality and reflexivity to pursue that activity. Deterministically or non-deterministically, whatever.

    /* I'm sooo pretty/vacant I can't remember which is my coat, or if I brought one. OK I remember now. It's the one with the really fat wallet. No, don't look inside - it IS mine. I swear. */

  70. DR

    few points

    @The Avangelist

    "To whoever it was above who stated that nobody would know who NiN are without an industry, yes you're right."

    I think that's wrong, you might not have, that doesn't mean i wouldn't, I enjoy music, and finding new music, as a consequence of this and my online searching (myspace etc)/going to gigs/listening to CDs with mates I rarely ever have time to listen to the radio, or TV adverts for music... and when I do I'm often sorely disapointed.

    "It happens all the time, there are only 3 Record labels in the entire world. Almost all others are owned or distributed by these 3 conglomerates."

    .no, there are more record labels, just they are truely independant...

    which does kind of proove your original point, most of the independants are too small to get on the RADAR of the average person. doesn't mean they aren't good though. in short these companies are independant in the nobodies heard of them way.

    you are right though. the thing is that without a good set of people nobody is ever going to get heard. your average person won't be able to do it on their own...

    I know a guy who's just recorded his own album, he has been marketing it in the way that NIN have been marketing their stuff. ('cept minus the free). but the paid pricing is the same.

    he had to pay for the outlay though, he had to put down money from his own pocket for studio time to get something that people will want to buy. he's had to pay for album artwork, (thugh admitadly this has been done by a friend graphic designer who also want's to get a foot hold for recognition).

    making money out of music shouldn't be easy. it's a job like any other job. work hard get paid a lot. work little, get paid little.

  71. Andy Enderby
    Thumb Up

    top !

    @ thomas k. - He wrote the music for the originla releae of Quake I believe. I've bought NiN products for the last 15 years and enjoyed them. I'm treating the free release as I'm sure it's intended a taster until I can get my arse to a record shop or get my backside in gear and grab it from Reznor himself.

    Interesting character, he trained as a classical musician.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @ Mark

    "So "the problem" is that people will only pay good money for quality stuff?"

    No. The problem is that people will only pay because its a new idea. Its not a working model. Give it another 4 or 5 "internet embracing" ideas, and then people will stop paying for novelty of "paying for something".

    most people dont care if the music creators live or die in pain and poverty. if they do, well simple, just bittorrent something else. the market is flooded with decent alternatives to anything and everything.

  73. Dan

    @Dan By Anonymous Coward

    Hmm perhaps I should have chosen a slightly more differentiating name lol I just read the above comment and thought "huh I never wrote any of that why's he crapping on me ?"

    To clarify, Im not a fan of Radiohead, but then I don't dislike them either. Im undecided on them.

    I am however a Nine Inch Nails fan :)

  74. Nix
    Thumb Up

    Uncommon sense prevails

    Finally a distribution offering that you can agree with. iTunes would try to sell us this for $1/song no doubt, but evidently Trent is smart enough to just come clean and let us share in the savings netted by a lack of shipping, handling, packaging and retailing costs.

    The only sad thing about it is that it's taken this long for someone to show the common (uncommon?) sense it takes to embrace a fair pricing scheme and quality product.

    Bravo Trent for doing with a highschool education what a thousand record executives with Business & Marketing degrees couldn't.

  75. Echowitch
    Thumb Up

    New Model

    I have a friend in an up and coming band, and I've told him about this to see if they can do something similar. It would certainly help them to make sales.

  76. Dave Errington

    @ Jason Edmunds

    "...who's gonna find the Next Big Thing and work to bring their work to our attention? Who's going to figure out which bands are good enough for people to want to buy their stuff?"

    Zane Lowe

    Steve Lamaq

    Mark Radcliffe

    Pete Tong

    Rob da Bank

    The welsh fella

    BBC Radio 6


    it's called a wireless and it's a brilliant invention.

    the one next to the whippet with the flat cap sticking from the pocket, thanks.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Some of Reznor's lyrics may be a tad on the melodramatic side, but my god is the man an incredible musician / producer. Pretty Hate Machine (which, incidentally, my mom bought me for hannukah way back in the day. Beat that) was absolutely incredible, production-wise, for 1989. It sounds nothing like an '80s (or even early '90s) album; it's dirty, layered, and sequenced without sounding 'electronic' (whatever that means). Unbelievable.

    I will be purchasing this album post-haste.

    And as far as "bands will never be known without big label promotion" goes - I write electronic music myself. I have one track in rotation on Soma FM's Groove Salad, and that's it. I've got a web site which I have NEVER promoted, and somehow I'm getting 5,000+ downloads a month. No idea how. If I was actually TRYING I imagine I could get a bit more.

    People who like your stuff will find you.

  78. Hexa-dB

    @Jason Edmunds

    I don't need the recording industry to tell me about bands. All of my favourite bands have been discovered by word of mouth, or random purchases. When I was a young teenager I'd go through the metal section of a second-hand record shop and spend my pocket money on records by bands with names or record sleeves that sounded appealing. Some were rubbish, some great. The modern equivalent would be browsing across sites like MySpace,, etc and in the case of the NIN album risking £2.60 on it to see what it was like. I'd also discover bands I liked from things like the thanks lists in liner notes, Tshirts worn by band members/peers. I don't think there's anything there a record company could take credit for.

    Sean - NIN are much less whiny these days. Year Zero isn't all personal whining and Ghosts I-IV is instrumental.

  79. Stan

    @David Wiernicki

    [[And as far as "bands will never be known without big label promotion" goes - I write electronic music myself. I have one track in rotation on Soma FM's Groove Salad, and that's it. I've got a web site which I have NEVER promoted, and somehow I'm getting 5,000+ downloads a month. No idea how. If I was actually TRYING I imagine I could get a bit more.]]

    A touching tale and the nail bang on the head that man. I have a shoutcast station, ACID (its in the metal section), on most of the time and it's where I hear about a hell of a lot of artists in my collection.

    BTW, I sent a quick email off to 'kyruss' one of my fav bands ATM suggesting they set up the same kind of service. If enough folks do the same for the bands they like the RIAA could be history in the space of a month. Ok, I'm dreaming but this could easily become an accepted standard way of getting music in the space of one album release to another for most bands.

    David Wiernicki, good luck with the tunes.


  80. Rob Crawford

    @Graham Bartlett

    Indeed it is now possible to turn a good profit through live shows. At 20 bloody quid for a tribute band I should hope that they can turn a profit ;)

    However that is relatively recent (15 years or so) for the most part tours where loss making, and where a nessicary evil to promote the new release.

    I'm just glad that people are trying to squeeze some of the parasites out of the business


    I liked the Lily Allen & Kate Nash comment, indeed shit floats. However as I seem to remember both those (so called) artists had their record companys sitting in stealth mode for a long time before they ever became known. I remember their 'internet gigs' costing a huge amount which was quietly funded by the record companys.

    Considering the family connections Ms Allen has with the music industry Blur, Guy Pratt (and many others) I would be very surprised if there was ever a point where a record company wasn't involved.

  81. Schultz

    @ NINNY Who?

    Hands up, who has seen the skateboarding dog? Ooh, lets bow before the power of big media!

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dan from AC

    "Hmm perhaps I should have chosen a slightly more differentiating name lol I just read the above comment and thought "huh I never wrote any of that why's he crapping on me ?"

    Sorry Dan, I was aiming at the author Dan Goodin.

  83. mike

    i'd pay $5 just to support the innovation

    my latest car mp3 player has a USB slot so i'm all about loading up a flash drive and hitting the road-and 320kbps mp3z sound fine with 500w behind them.

  84. Jon

    Re: should have used torrent

    already done

  85. Anonymous

    Niggy Tardust

    Really, when you're giving something away and asking people to pay only if they like it, 18% is a frickin' excellent takeup.

    I downloaded the Saul Williams album, and I am one of the 82% who didn't pay. Not because I'm a cheap-ass download whore, but because I flat-out didn't like it. I did drop an email back saying why, though, and I don't have it on my hard drive any more. IMO, the reason for the relative "flop" of the Niggy Tardust album was not so much because people are cheap, but because, well, it was a bit crap really.

    Now, Trent, whether you like his output or not, "gets it". Really. He understands that people are fed up with being raped by the music business, and that they are willing to pay for good output. He also has a big fanbase. Hell, he's getting some of my money on this one, sight unseen. He deserves it.

    Sure, it would be easy to torrent the album for nowt. But why bother? The price is reasonable, and the money is going more-or-less direct to the artist. On the other hand, I will continue to torrent vinyl rips of my extensive bebop collection rather than pay through the nose for a badly remastered version of something I already own with some "bonus tracks" that weren't considered good enough for release in the 50s. And the RIAA can kiss my fuzzy arse.

  86. Daniel B.
    Thumb Up


    Hm... I really didn't care that much about Radiohead. But Nine Inch Nails does... and I'm sure as hell buying the $5 version... at least. I remember that Trent Reznor once asked his record label why his stuff was so expensive while pop-crap was getting cheaper by the day. The answer? "Your stuff is good stuff, and people will pay more to get it. Its the pop crap we need to discount so it gets even sold at all."

    So he cut away the middleman, and he's now selling even *cheaper* than the crappy music dudes. Me? I paid $20-ish for the Year Zero album, so I don't complain about $5/album in lossless formats. Hey, it's practically on the same level as allofmp3/mp3sparks, and that's affordable for me!

    Plus, I get to renew my mobile's MP3 collection which hasn't grown much since my job blocked mp3sparks ;)

  87. Stan

    Got to say..

    ..this is a bloody good album too, more varied than usual and doesn't miss without the vocals at all.

  88. Red Bren
    Dead Vulture

    @Andrew O

    I see Mr Orlowski has had his say on the subject, although he hasn't had the decency to allow people to respond to his blinkered arguments, unless you were lucky enough to comment in the first 30 minutes!

    For the first time in my life I'm actually tempted to buy and download some music off the net because I like the music, it's in a format of my choice, I can do what I want with it and the artist gets paid for the work without some leeching parasite stealing 95% of it for doing sweet FA!

    Any other bands want to have some of my money? Just do what Trent did!

  89. zar athustra

    NiN "Freetards" report Comments Section Locked After SIX Posts?

    I wonder why. Perhaps it's due to the erroneous reportage therein...


    "[...]TorrentFreak has verified that the accounts in question, ‘NIN’ on both waffles and what, and ‘NINOfficial’ on The Pirate Bay, are indeed accounts belonging to the band’s representatives."

  90. system

    RE: @Andrew O

    He probably locked it because he forgot to do that when publishing. I tend to skip over his articles now because there is never a chance of rebuttal except by sending him an email. He may post whatever he wants in public, but feels he should never be corrected in public.

    So, to completely refute most of his claims, we have to come here to do it.

    1) As someone managed to slip into the comments there, the entire album is released under a CC license. It says so right on the FAQ page for This means you are entirely free to share the work, provided it's non-commercial and you include attribution. Nobody has done anything wrong in uploading the work.

    2) Andrew O seems confused in his headline. The headline asks why we would prefer to leech if the music costs nothing, while the article asks if $5 is too much for the "freetards" to pay. Either it costs nothing, in which case torrents are a much more effecient method of distribution than a hammered website, or it costs $5, in which case the "freetards" are not leeching free content.

    Given that the music is free, the answer lies in effeciency.

    3) Andrew assumes that NIN are burning through $2M a week to do this. He really must have attended the RIAA school of accountancy. Potential earnings not received are not the same as losses. You cannot lose what you do not have. As a web coder, I have the potential to create the next myspace. Does that mean I have lost $580M? Only if you live in la la land. Andrew has the theoretical potential to earn Dan Brown size royalties on everything he writes, but he hasn't lost a penny.

    4) Andrew associates the entire "anti-copyright crowd" with plague infested zombies who will not pay to support an artist. Maybe he missed the part where the NIN site failed due to so many "zombies" trying to get content they paid for.

    Picking just one of the full I-IV torrents on a private site, at least 50% of the comments were about the site being down so the users could not pay their $5 at the moment. The "at the moment" is important in this sentence, as it shows there is a will to pay if not the means.

    The idea of supporting the artist directly through donations is not a new one, and has been used in open source for quite a while. It can and often does work.

    5) He goes on to call the economics of digital distribution a "busted flush" without any financial data to back it up. As he barely comprehends even the basics of this story, I think he should reserve judgement.

    This is not Trent Reznors first ride on the digital distribution merry go round, if it wasn't working would he not simply climb off?

  91. Tuomo
    Thumb Down

    RE: @Andrew O

    And apparently he did not even read the previous article:

    "He has openly embraced music downloading on BitTorrent[...]"

    And it was indeed NiN that released the 'offending' torrent... not to forget the license that allows sharing.

    I've been wondering for a while if some of the articles are engineered as flame baits...

  92. Tuomo
    Thumb Up


    NIN's Music Experiment Sells Big numbers:

  93. J

    Re: OK, I'm in

    "Not so much of a NIN fan, perhaps, but I'll pop $5 to encourage the distribution model - and the "music industry" isn't getting a penny of it, it's all for the artists."

    Same feeling here. I'll check them out just because of this.

    Hear, bands! I'd much, much rather give my money to *you*, an artist I like, than to some faceless company that couldn't care less and will give you a tiny share of the money I parted with.

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