Industrial rock pioneer(s) Nine Inch Nails (aka Trent Reznor) has released their newest album, The Slip, online for absolutely free.
The album, which became available for download just after 3 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, appears to represent the first time a superstar act has distributed an entire album without any opportunity for people to pay for it. Its release comes two months after the band issued the instrumental album â€œGhosts I-IVâ€ and allowed fans to obtain a portion of it for free or the entire recording for $5. Before that, the British rock act Radiohead broke with convention by offering its 2007 album, â€œIn Rainbows,â€ online under a tip-jar-style setup in which people could name their own price â€” including zero.
Mr. Reznor’s new offer could serve as another test of how the easy availability of free music online affects subsequent CD sales and other money-making opportunities. â€œThe Slipâ€ will not be sold on CD or vinyl until at least July, according to representatives for the band. But the free digital version could stoke interest for Nine Inch Nails’ recently announced concert tour. Already, radio stations have shown interest in â€œDiscipline,â€ a song from â€œThe Slipâ€ that was released about two weeks ago.
As with the â€œGhosts I-IV,â€ the new album is being released with a Creative Commons license, an unconventional type of intellectual-property license that allows the copyright holder to specify which rights it does and does not reserve. The band is allowing fans to share or remix the music for non-commercial purposes.
I’m not sure if Reznor is ushering in some newfangled apathy, or if he’s just worried that unless he puts his tunes out for free, no one will ever hear them. I mean, let’s face it, shit hasn’t been the same since the release of The Downward Spiral. And Reznor’s buffness is a tad disconcerting given the fact that he was once heralded as the poster child for skinny Goth America. Whatever though, I get free albums anyway; maybe I’m just bummed that the perks of journalism are now offered to everyone else. Sign of the times, man…sign of the times.