Latest NIN album digital, DRM-free

Latest NIN album digital, DRM-free

The album is available in a variety of formats and at a range of prices - fans are spoilt for choice.

Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor is putting his music where his mouth is, and has ditched the traditional label-centric approach to selling tunes in favour of a Radiohead-inspired independent release of the new album Ghosts I-IV.

You may remember that Reznor was quite scathing of Radiohead's launch of a DRM-free digital copy of their album for whatever sum fans thought it was worth, saying he thought “there were some serious flaws with how they executed” the near-giveaway. Reznor's misgivings weren't entirely unfounded, with almost two-thirds of downloaders failing to offer a single penny in recompense to the band.

Even so, it would appear that Reznor thinks there is something to be said for reduced reliance on the record labels that, rightly or wrongly, are developing a reputation for greed in the eyes of consumers. Accordingly, the band has released the first nine tracks from the album completely free of charge, and in a nice high-quality MP3 format free from nasty DRM. For those who complain about the lack of 'extras' included with digital distribution, you even get a 40-page 'sleeve notes' booklet in PDF format along with a selection of wallpapers and icons. Not too shabby for £0.

Obviously the band is still hoping to make something from this endeavour, and the album will also be released the traditional way via Sony BMG. If you want to see the hard work of the band financially rewarded without lining the fat cat record industry's pockets, Reznor has a selection of added-value goodies available direct from the band.

First and foremost is the basic $5: for less than the cost of a meal in a fast food restaurant you get the full album in a choice of formats, including the Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) and Apple Lossless for audiophiles to enjoy.

If you insist on getting something physical for your hard-earned, $10 gets you two CDs and a 16-page printed booklet. Sadly, you won't get your hands on the goods until April 8th (my birthday, co-incidentally) but you do get instant access to the $5 digital download option included.

If you would like to get something a bit more special, $75 gets you the two CDs from the $10 bundle in a stylish fabric slipcase along with a DVD containing the original studio multi-track uncompressed audio files for your remixing pleasure, and a Blu-Ray disc featuring the album in high-definition 96KHz 24-bit uncompressed stereo. Which is nice.

The true fan, however, will want to opt for the $300 “I Want Trent's Babies” bundle, which includes everything in the aforementioned along with four vinyl LPs and two limited edition prints signed by Reznor's fair hand. Nice.

It's clear that Reznor believes that the music industry needs to move beyond charging ludicrous prices for mass-produced CDs, and that by cutting out the middleman and offering 'extra-value' it's possible to earn a crust whilst keeping the fans happy.

Initial signs are good, with the server hosting the website buckling under the load; whether any of the traffic will actually be converted into paying customers remains to be seen.

This isn't the first time Reznor has toyed with unconventional distribution of music: he's gone on record in the past as claiming that the sharing of music on P2P networks actually helps rather than hinders artists, and made Saul Williams' last album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, available for free download or a $5 donation in a similar way to Ghosts I-IV. He has even hidden digital copies of Nine Inch Nails tracks stored on USB flash memory in club toilets and encouraged finders to upload the music to file-sharing networks. This is the first time, however, that he's jumped in with both feet.

Let's hope that Reznor's faith in the generosity of his fans is not misplaced: or at the very least that we all get mesmerised by the shiny things on offer and shell out for one of the added-value options.

What do you think: a brave new dawn for musicians and fans alike, or should we heed the warnings of the RIAA? Do you predict bread and water for Reznor and the gang, or will his gamble pay off? Perhaps you're planning on treating yourself to the $300 limited-edition bundle? Let us know in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
Luukas 4th March 2008, 07:45 Quote
I'm not seeing the $300 deal on the website - sold out already?!

Not a big fan of NIN, but 36 lossless tracks for $5 is more than reasonable. Hmm...
BioSniper 4th March 2008, 07:48 Quote
See, now this has got me interested, if the free tracks are any good I will seriously think about shelling out the $10 for the better pack with the discs.
I do however believe the site is totally hammered right now as clicking on the free box then continue results in a VERY long load time and its still not actually loaded the next page.
Jamie 4th March 2008, 07:52 Quote
My download got dropped half way through.
Mankz 4th March 2008, 08:07 Quote
I paid the $5 for them.

That tells you something.
BioSniper 4th March 2008, 08:30 Quote
Listening to the free tracks and so far I'm REALLY impressed. There have been no lyrics at all so far but its a very atmospheric and it's really managed to stir up something within me and my thoughts and feelings. Not quite sure what, but the first 2 tracks have blown my mind away, the next few not so much, but I'm sorely tempted to order the $10 one as it'd be nice to have the CD's as I'm a sucker for digipac stuff and I also love the artwork in a physical form.

If you order the CD's Shipping is $13 or so to the UK meaning it totals out at over $23, I've still paid for it as I want to support this kind of business model as I think it's fantastic, but if you don't like the shipping cost go for the download at $5 :)
CardJoe 4th March 2008, 08:51 Quote
I only care about one thing: Good Audiosurf material or not?
AlexB 4th March 2008, 09:08 Quote
Sweet, bought the $10 one (and noticed the shipping is more than the CD! ha ha).

NIN are great and deserve support. If this works they might set a trend. $23 is still only about £10 - which is a bargain for a NIN double-cd!
DXR_13KE 4th March 2008, 10:00 Quote
holly mother of God, it is starting to happen, and i am happy :D i hope this is a huge success.
alastor 4th March 2008, 10:19 Quote
Listening to the free tracks at uni now, will order the CDs when I get home :D

EDIT: The artwork is worth the $5 in itself, some stunning stuff.
DXR_13KE 4th March 2008, 11:11 Quote
"We have SOLD OUT of the 2500 Limited Edition Packages."

holly crap!!!
Cupboard 4th March 2008, 11:33 Quote
Thanks bit-tech, downloading now (my first nin!) I have heard good things about them, so we'll see!

I hope this takes off, its much better than the silly 30 seconds you get on iTunes and I am all for a bit of initiative from bands (and less money going to the RIAA!)
adamc 4th March 2008, 11:46 Quote
Originally Posted by BioSniper
Listening to the free tracks and so far I'm REALLY impressed. There have been no lyrics at all so far but its a very atmospheric and it's really managed to stir up something within me and my thoughts and feelings.

The whole album is a 36-track instrumental, according to their website.
AlexB 4th March 2008, 12:05 Quote
NIN's best stuff is the instrumentals imho. Some of their stuff is simply stunning.
VipersGratitude 4th March 2008, 12:24 Quote
This is a long time coming. The only reason labels were required was because the average musician doesn't know much about the distribution network logistics. Digital distribution is much easier to manage - all you need is a decent web developer.

If anyone's wondering why labels are evil, you should read this -
Note - Courtney Love didn't write that speech, I can't divulge who did, but it wasn't her. Oh and I might as well take this opportunity to publicly state that Courtney Love is a C#@%!!!! (I speak from personal experience) Ahh...that felt good.

As for NIN, Trent lost my interest when he got off heroin. His whiney little voice was just about bearable when he had tortured lyics to, not so much. I'm going to give ghosts a try for two reasons - 1. He doesn't sing. 2. I'm a Dresden Dolls fanboy and Brian Viglione played drums on this album. You can read is blog about it here -
VictorianBloke 4th March 2008, 12:58 Quote
This does seem a more sensible way of doing it tbh, don't have my credit card with me now or I would already have ordered the digipak. Like Biosniper I'm a sucker for Digipacks, especially when NIN filled!
Sathy 4th March 2008, 13:34 Quote
Really awesome way of releasing, props for that!

2xCD on order for myself, can't wait for the download to complete =]

Have to say the Deluxe pack has sold out rather quickly, but I guess with fans like NIN seem to have, it's not all that surprising. Slightly disappointed about the high shipping costs for a double disk, but still feel it's good value none the less as it's overseas shipping for me anyway.

Someone in a previous comment said something about 23$ still being a bargain or something similar. I think you've completely missed the point of this way of releasing if you only compare it to the stuff you can get from stores. It is and is not a bargain at the same time, as it's what you feel fits your needs and your wallet the best. You can't even compare it with much right now, since it doesn't relate to traditional record purchasing, and it isn't exactly like buying off iTunes or similar either as they don't offer anything extra.

Anyway, picking on that aside, great news and a really interesting "second try" at a digital release method. Hope it works out well and we start seeing more of these in the future!
scarrmrcc 4th March 2008, 13:41 Quote
spent my $16.99 (10 dollar cd+shipping)

this is the way it should be.

trent also releases the multitracks of his stuff, and sometimes free, look at year zero) so that people can make their own mixes. he truly is a musician's musician. and he is also all about the fans.
Drexial 4th March 2008, 14:04 Quote
I and two of my friends have the $300 bundle o the way. I figure if it hits me how dumb of an idea it was to get it by the time ti gets here, I can always sell it.
E.E.L. Ambiense 4th March 2008, 14:08 Quote
I pulled it yesterday. If you're into the more experimental side of Nails, this is the stuff to pull. Almost reminds me of the Quake work, mixed with, in my opinion, his best stuff; The Fragile era material. Worth a listen, and you can't beat the price! Also, they look to be 320 files.
Fly 4th March 2008, 14:23 Quote
Gutted, I wanted the $300 bundle. :(
Breach 4th March 2008, 17:28 Quote
I think Reznor is definitely on to something with this release, I am glad he instead of giving up, tried something new instead. This seems to cover all bases when you think about it, there is the free album, the whole series for $5, a double CD set for the fans who like real discs, and the super packs for the rabid NIN fans out there. Everyone gets something. Death to the establishment!

Granted because the servers were hosed I have yet been able to download my copy :( But thats ok, revolution isnt without its sacrafices :)
pendragon 4th March 2008, 18:01 Quote
this is awsome news! Go Trent! I highly approve of this method of distribution.. it gives everyone a choice to get music that's within their means. ..and it also gives great exposure to NiN..which I'm sure will translate into sold-out concerts ..take THAT RIAA! :D
Mister_Tad 4th March 2008, 20:10 Quote
$5 option for me. I would even pay a bit more for it but I would rather not have the physical media with all of the paraphenaelia that comes with it. I would just have to find somewhere to store it as I listen to all of my music from FLAC these days anyway.

Go go Trent!
Mentai 4th March 2008, 22:46 Quote
I'll be getting the $5 version as well. First music I've bought in forever, I hope everyone starts doing this. I almost want to give them more money but also don't want the physical items....
DarkReaper 5th March 2008, 00:08 Quote
I'm still stuck in the dark ages, ordered the CD package despite UK delivery costing more than the discs!

Glad I did mind as the download cut out on me almost instantly... Is it bad that after paying for the album I then immediately go off and torrent it just to avoid waiting?
Woodstock 5th March 2008, 05:33 Quote
will purchase the the $5 download option (dont have paypal or credit card, ill chuck it on mums when i can get hold of her) , partly as i would love to see more bands offer this method (especially the flac part).
Bladestorm 5th March 2008, 14:16 Quote
Will wait a bit to give the servers a chance then pay the $5 I think, if its anything at all like the quake soundtrack I'l certainly have it :) thats a price I can get behind for digital delivery of music!
E.E.L. Ambiense 5th March 2008, 14:21 Quote
^Give the free DL a try and check out the first 9 tracks. It's definitely good material in my opinion, but others may think differently. It's worth the $5, if you ask me.
VictorianBloke 5th March 2008, 18:41 Quote
Originally Posted by DarkReaper

download cut out on me almost instantly...

Just had exactly the same happen repeatedly at 19% :( seems to be faring better through DAP though - I can't bring myself to use a torrent when there's a legit source that I've paid for...
Flibblebot 5th March 2008, 19:39 Quote
Originally Posted by E.E.L. Ambiense
^Give the free DL a try and check out the first 9 tracks. It's definitely good material in my opinion, but others may think differently. It's worth the $5, if you ask me.
It's definitely good material, but miles away from the Quake soundtrack. Don't expect screaming guitars and a screaming Reznor, it plays more like a movie soundtrack than anything else.
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