NIN Ghosts I-IV - Trent Reznor goes Creative Commons
A while ago I covered the story of Radiohead, who wanted to free themselves from the evil clutches of record labels and the abominable empire of the music industry by releasing their album In Rainbows for free, leaving the choice to the people: pay as much as you want. The result of that experiments was apparently quite satisfactory, although
some people paid, many others did not.
In early October 2007, a spokesman for the band reported that "most people paid a normal retail price with very few trying to buy [the download version] for a penny" and that most fans had preordered the discbox. Citing a source close to the band, Gigwise.com reported that by the day of its online release, the album had sold 1.2 million copies. This claim, however, has been dismissed by band manager Bryce Edge as "exaggerated". According to an Internet survey conducted by Record of the Day of 3,000 people, about one-third of people who downloaded the album paid nothing, with the average price paid being £4. When asked in a December 2007 interview by The Observer how many discboxes were ordered, the band members responded with various answers ranging between 60,000 and 80,000.
By a very approximate calculation we could say that Radiohead with Internet only free-drm-bullshit made more than 8 million U.S. dollars, since all the money coming from the sales went directly to them instead of being split with the record labels with a ratio I don't have the stomach to mention.
Trent Reznor has gone a step further. He had already declared war on record labels long before anyone else, he experimented more than anybody. He is a music pioneer, his views precede what most people have yet to understand about music restrictions, internet access and distribution, he's always been a step ahead promoting emergent emergent artists (Saul Williams) and getting people to remix his works by releasing the sources of his tracks, and also releasing the album created by his fans.
Most blogs and news channels report that "Nine Inch Nails follow Radiohead with album download". They are wrong. Trent Reznor did not follow Radiohead nor anybody else. First of all Nine Inch Nails is essentially Trent Reznor, the one and only man band, so any decision he makes should be accounted to him. Secondly, he did not follow anyone, for he already had numerous experiences in this field. And thirdly, as I mentioned earlier, he went a step further. He released all the 36 tracks to the world under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. By this morning five different sources of my RSS reader reported the news with enthusiastic messages.
The official site went live at 9PM ET with the several versions of the new instrumental album entitle 'Ghosts I - IV'. You can get the first 9 songs from the 36 track project for free or you can purchase the entire album digitally for a mere $5.
Straight from Trent:
This music arrived unexpectedly as the result of an experiment. The rules were as follows: 10 weeks, no clear agenda, no overthinking, everything driven by impulse. Whatever happens during that time gets released as... something.
The team: Atticus Ross, Alan Moulder and myself with some help from Alessandro Cortini, Adrian Belew and Brian Viglione. Rob Sheridan collaborated with Artist in Residence (A+R) to create the accompanying visual and physical aesthetic.
We began improvising and let the music decide the direction. Eyes were closed, hands played instruments and it began. Within a matter of days it became clear we were on to something, and a lot of material began appearing. What we thought could be a five song EP became much more. I invited some friends over to join in and we all enjoyed the process of collaborating on this.
The end result is a wildly varied body of music that we’re able to present to the world in ways the confines of a major record label would never have allowed - from a 100% DRM-free, high-quality download, to the most luxurious physical package we’ve ever created.
More volumes of Ghosts are likely to appear in the future.
These are the types of available purchases:
Ghosts I - The first 9 tracks from the Ghosts I-IV collection available as high-quality DRM-free MP3s (320kbps LAME encoded, fully tagged) including complete 40 page PDF. Also includes the digital extras pack - various wallpapers, icons, and graphics tools for your computer, website, profile, etc.
Ghosts I-IV - All 36 tracks in a variety of DRM-free digital formats (320 kbps LAME encoded, fully tagged; FLAC Lossless; Apple Lossless) including a 40
page PDF. Also includes the digital extras pack - various wallpapers, icons, and graphics tools for your computer, website, profile, etc.
This version is also available from the Amazon MP3 store.
$10 2XCD SET
Ghosts I-IV - 2 audio CDs in a gatefold digipak package with a 16-page booklet. To be shipped TBD. Includes immediate DRM-free download of the
entire collection in same choice of formats as $5 Download option. Download will include the 40 page PDF and the digital extras pack - various wallpapers, cons, and graphics tools for your computer, website, profile, etc. This configuration will be released to retail in North America (April 8), Australia (April 5), the UK (April 8), Japan (April 5) and most European territories (April 8).
$75 LIMITED EDITION DELUXE PACKAGE
Ghosts I-IV - Hardcover book holding 2 audio CDs, 1 data DVD of all 36 tracks in multi-track format (in .wav files readable by Mac and Windows), and
Blu-ray disc featuring stereo recordings in high-definition 24 bit 96Khz with exclusive slide show. Includes immediate DRM-free download of the entire
collection in all formats and with all extras mentioned above. Also includes 48-page hardcover of photographs by Phillip Graybill and Rob Sheridan.
Discs and art book both housed in fabric slipcover.
$300 ULTRA-DELUXE LIMITED EDITION PACKAGE
Ghosts I-IV - Contains all elements from deluxe package, along with exclusive 4XLP 180-gram vinyl set, and two limited edition Giclee prints available exclusively in this package. Disc book, art book, and prints are all housed in a fabric slipcover. 4XLP vinyl set comes in its own fabric slipcover. INCLUDES immediate DRM-free download of the entire collection in all formats and with all extras mentioned above. LIMITED TO 2500 PIECES,
NUMBERED AND PERSONALLY SIGNED BY TRENT REZNOR.
What was the public response? Thousands of independent blogs, mainstream news media, forums, IRCs, chats, discussion groups, mailing lists, web communities, social bookmarking sites... Trent Reznor, his genius and his courage are on everyone's mouth.
Trent Reznor topping Digg's home page with his last genius achievement Ghosts I-IV, more than 7588 diggs in less than 24 hours.
In less then 5 hours the Ghosts site was down and Trent released a message to the fans:
Unfortunately, the Ghosts I-IV site is down for the next few hours for maintenance.
We quietly released this album last night without any warning, and without any press. Because we know how devoted our fans are, we planned for an overwhelming response, and expected heavy traffic. To our surprise, the traffic was more than three times what we anticipated, and has only been getting heavier throughout the day. The response has been absolutely phenomenal, and we couldn't be happier, but our servers have taken a beating, causing numerous problems with the download site. Our developers, who have been working non-stop to combat the surge of traffic, feel that taking the site down for a few hours to fix some crucial issues is the best way to get things running smoothly again. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
While the site is down, you can still purchase the complete Ghosts I-IV here from Amazon's MP3 store for only $5. The MP3s are high quality and DRM-free. You can also order the deluxe and limited edition packages from Artist in Residence.
If you ordered a download and have not yet been able to retrieve it or have experienced any technical difficulties with the download, your download link will work as soon as the site returns.
Thanks again for the amazing support, and your continuing patience. Watch nin.com for updates during the downtime.
I tried to purchase the $10 version but it was impossible, too many users connected, so I downloaded the official torrent form the PirateBay and I am listening to it as I speak. 36 beautiful instrumental tracks that can be used for just about anything, listen, enjoy, use, reuse, remix, share. Some of the comments I found around are quite entertaining:
Fuck this! I'm getting the $300 pack! Trent can have my entire bank account if he feels like it!
This is the first time I have ever bought music.
Completely worth it.
Radiohead = Tells record labels to fuck off. Put out album for any price as "not being on a label". Also release 40 pound discbox (cool). Then jumps back and hugs a small record label. Recants on the fuck off part.
NIN = Tells record labels to fuck off. Puts out an album that breaks new ground. Prices range from 0 to $300USD. Releases as Creative Commons. Releases all tracks for remix. Has mega cool outside talent on album. Tells record labels to still fuck themselves, and shows them how.
And of couse about a million of those:
FUCK THE RIAA.
Personally I am going to buy a version of the album JUST BECAUSE. To prove the point that he's doing the right thing, to give Trent the respect he deserves. Thank you, Trent.