It was only a few days that I described how I bought NIN’s latest album Ghosts for US$5 on the strength of Trent Reznor putting the first quarter up for free, and selling it in a high quality DRM-free format. Then he released a single, Discipline, for free. Discipline was alright, but I’ve been loving the instrumental Ghosts. Makes for great programming or reading music (ambient yet interesting, without vocals or annoying bits), and it’s long enough for it to suck you in with its 110 minute length.
I can’t call Ghosts his latest album anymore. The ID3 tag on the Discipline file said to visit NIN.com on May 5. Reznor seems to have been bottling up the creative urges over the years, waiting until he could be released of the shackles of his contracts, because he’s somehow just released another album. Ghosts was only released on March 2. It’s called The Slip, and includes Discipline. And like the single, the album’s free to download. I would offer a first listen review right now, but I’m at Uni at the moment and going to wait until I can download it from somewhere where the bandwidth doesn’t cost so much (a situation I was reminded of the oddity of last week by a new PhD student here from the Netherlands complaining that we have to pay at all. Would Page and Brin have been able to start Google in a CS dept where they were paying 2.5c/MB during the day? But I digress).
There’s a promised CD version coming soon, but the monetization strategy (beyond just generating good will and fan interest) came in another email (downloading from NIN involves handing over your email address. It’s a pretty fair trade):
Nine Inch Nails is touring the US and Canada this summer. Premium tickets for all NIN headline dates will be made available to registered nin.com members in advance of public on sales. Pre sale tickets are personalized with the members legal name printed on the face of the ticket and ID will be required for pickup and entry into the venue on night of show. Pre sale ticket supplies are limited and available on a first come, first serve basis. Our goal is to put the best tickets in the hands of the fans and not in the hands of scalpers and/or brokers. Register at nin.com and check the performance page for additional tour updates.
And then it lists 26 concert dates and venues. It’s similar to the higher quality purchase options that were offered with Ghosts, which went all the way from a $5 download, to a $10 double CD, to a $75 deluxe edition, to a US$300 limited edition collector’s box which probably included a handcrafted figurine of Trent or something. They sold out of all 2500 of those. Clearly Reznor’s realised the value in catering to both the long end of casual listeners and the short end of dedicated fans. He’s now doing what many have predicted will be the best long term new business model for music: give away the music to act as a promotion for the concerts, and be varied in the product range you offer.
Update: Downloaded the album, and it’s great.