Last week, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails released a 36 song set entitled Ghosts I-IV. Basically it’s two double-CD’s worth of music. Trent is no longer on a major label and is doing this himself and is doing something that I think will help change the recording industry forever.
You see Trent released the first disc worth of songs for free. You can download for free from his site, and he’s also officially seeded it to a bunch of torrent sites. If you want the first set of songs, download them in high-quality DRM-free form and enjoy.
In addition he made several other versions available. For five dollars you can download all 36 tracks in high quality audio, even lossless codecs if you wish. You can do it from his site, or even from Amazon.com’s MP3 store. Five dollars, thirty-six tracks. For ten dollars you get the download plus the CD’s sent to you. For $75 you get the above plus DVD’s of the songs, and a Blu-ray disc with tracks mixed in surround and some additional things. For $300 he throws in very high quality vinyl, autographs it and adds even more to the package. The $300 package was limited to 2500 units.
They sold out in two days.
So, if you do the math, Trent Reznor made three-quarters of a MILLION dollars in two days from that ALONE. That’s not including the $5, $10 or $75 purchases. Music artists rarely make that much money on even the most blockbuster albums. Trent made it in two days. He also did it with no restrictions or DRM on the music, and he did it whilst giving away an entire album of music for free if you want it.
Oh, did I mention the album is an instrumental?
Now granted, he’s a major artist and can do this, but I think it sends a great precedent. As of today, NIN announced that they made over $1.6 million in the first week of sales. In the old way of doing things a record company would have NEVER agreed to let him release a 36 track instrumental album, much less give 8 tracks away for free and sell the whole thing in high-quality DRM-free formats. This really gives established artists the room to BE artists and release music that they want to release, WHEN they want to release it, and HOW they want to release it.
Trent has proven you can make money with this. He’s the most forward thinking musician around today. He’s given us great music and given us many ways to purchase and experience that music. I truly hope more artists follow suit.