Reznor revolt makes Radiohead’s look tame

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This weekend, veteran angst evangelist Trent Reznor sparked some hefty Internet buzz by releasing his new Nine Inch Nails album online for free or cheap download. It’s easy to say that he’s simply following in the footsteps of Radiohead’s In Rainbows, but marketing folks would be wise to look closer. This isn’t a “pay what you want” giveaway that tests the morality of the masses. In fact, it’s a well-planned strategy that might just offer a glimpse into the future of the music industry. The new album, Ghosts I-IV, is a 36-song instrumental opus arranged in four volumes. Reznor placed Ghosts I up for free download on torrent sites such as the infamous Pirate Bay. You can buy the entire collection from the Nine Inch Nails site (or Amazon) for $5. You can also buy a two-CD box set for $10, a deluxe edition for $70 or an “ultra-deluxe limited edition package” for $300. However you get it, the album is yours to share—it’s licensed under Creative Commons. This is more than just a PR stunt. It’s a swift ax swing aimed right at the knees of Reznor’s nemesis, the record industry. Or as Reznor more diplomatically puts it on his site, “I’m very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference.”

—Posted by David Griner