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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Band diversifies album options

NIN follows in the steps of Radiohead

Published: March 7, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

diverse-city-3-7-08_page_4_image_0003.jpgNine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor has long detested aspects of the music industry, and the release of his most recent album of instrumentals, Ghosts I-IV, has made waves in a similar fashion to Radiohead’s pioneering “pay what you want” release of their latest album, In Rainbows. Reznor’s release is in fact as significant if not more so than Radiohead’s just a few months ago.

According to fans and as widely reported, the traffic on Reznor’s site,, has been extraordinary. With such a huge cult following, Nine Inch Nails has built an audience over the years and is coming off one of their best albums in years, Year Zero.

Ghosts I-IV features nearly two hours of music, as Reznor offers part one of the four part series of EPs for free, while the entire package carries just a 5 dollar price tag to download. An official CD will only set fans back ten bucks, while the deluxe edition package carries a 75 dollar price tag.

Perhaps the most telling offer is the $700 ultra deluxe package offered, which included all of the albums on vinyl, signed prints by Trent Reznor, and remarkably sold out only hours after becoming available. This kind of excitement is certainly great for the band, and could be a strategy employed more often in the future by big names in music.

Reznor’s ability to release an album in so many different formats appeals to everyone, and also allows him to really get a gauge for his fan base. After complaining for years of being screwed over by his label, TVT Records, and ridiculous album prices, Reznor has gotten his revenge.

This is not the first time Reznor has explored unorthodox releases, as he sparred with his label Interscope Records over remixes on his last album and released flash drives with new songs in the bathrooms of concert venues he was playing at He also collaborated with Saul Williams earlier this year, releasing another album online for free or for only 5 dollars.

Ghosts I-IV was made with an explicit intention that will allow anyone to remix the album without worry, and is officially licensed under the creative commons. Without going through all of the fighting, Reznor has made over $750,000 in the three days since the album’s release, a very exciting prospect for musicians in this day and age.

Overall, the quality of even the free tracks is excellent, and is transferrable to any computer or portable device. Reznor has also included a 40 page PDF of liner notes available for download, while each song features album art.

To boot, Nine Inch Nails officially released the free part onto various file sharing sites, notably The Pirate Bay. Most of the tracks themselves are of the typical Nine Inch Nails variety, and could easily fit in as one of the instrumental tracks from his past albums. Just don’t expect to hear Reznor dissing the government or a dystopia like he did in Year Zero. He will save that for his next release, a rumored sequel to Year Zero.

Reznor has followed in the footsteps of Radiohead, and probably made a better move to have a larger variety. It is this kind of forward thinking that will continue to dominate the music world in the years to come.