Trent Reznor On The Artist's Quandary In A P2P World
June 9, 2008 at 5:38 AM (PT)
In an interview with the NEW YORK TIMES, NINE INCH NAILS mastermind TRENT REZNOR has resigned himself to the artist's fate in a devalued-by-P2P world: He's solely in it for the music, and from here on out, he'll be trading a lucrative income for artistic freedom.
The long-time Alternative superstar who sold millions of NINE INCH NAIL records while with INTERSCOPE RECORDS, REZNOR has been putting his more recent music out himself. Befitting his considerable appeal, that music has been heard and downloaded by a millions of fans. Unfortunately, the amount of money his efforts have generated have been, to say the least, underwhelming.
I don't agree that it should be free, but it is free, and you can either accept it or you can put your head in the sand
Most telling was last year's collaboration with socially conscious hip-hop poet SAUL WILLIAMS on "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust," which REZNOR produced and bankrolled. According to the TIMES, he "put it online: free to the first 100,000 downloaders as good-quality mp3 files or $5 for more high-fidelity files. He had thought that fans would willingly pay the price of a latte to support musicians directly. But fewer than 20% did so. 'I think I was just naive,' [REZNOR said].
Because of that, REZNOR has come to the grips that there's no "solution" to sustaining a profitable career, let alone a way for a new, young artist to break through and achieve mass-appeal success. "It’s all out there," REZNOR told the TIMES. "I don't agree that it should be free, but it is free, and you can either accept it or you can put your head in the sand."
He's also cognizant -- and less than enamored with -- the concept of using ancillary means to make money in music: "Now just making good music, or great music, isn't enough ... Now I have to sell T-shirts, or I have to choose which whorish association is the least stinky. I don't really want to be on the side of a bus or in a BlackBerry ad hawking some product that sucks just so I can get my record out. I want to maintain some dignity and self-respect in the process, if that’s possible these days."
For his new album "The Slip," REZNOR posted the songs on his website along with the announcement, "This one's on me." A CD version will be on retail shelves near the end of JULY, when NINE INCH NAILS embarks on their new tour. According to REZNOR, his new album has already been downloaded more than a million times ... with relatively little monetarily to show for it.
"Aside from any kind of monetization of it, I'm glad to know that a million people have it on their iPODS," REZNOR said. "If you paid for it, great, but I want everyone to hear it, you know? I want to blow people’s minds."
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