Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music

September 11, 2007

Trent Reznor gives Rip-off Avoidance, Download & Share advice to fans

Filed under: Music Industry — maths @ 5:58 pm
NIN v1
(Photos courtesy of Simon Li, Beijing)

I managed to catch Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor backstage for a chat on his views on copyright and digital music distribution just before they played at the Beijing Pop Festival on 9 Sep.

In May this year, Reznor famously launched a tirade against his label Universal Music in Australia when he found out that:

“Year Zero is selling for $34.99 Australian dollars ($29.10 US). No wonder people steal music. Avril Lavigne’s record in the same store was $21.99 ($18.21 US). By the way, when I asked a label rep about this, his response was: “It’s because we know you have a real core audience that will pay whatever it costs when you put something out - you know, true fans. It’s the pop stuff we have to discount to get people to buy.” So, I guess as a reward for being a “true fan” you get ripped off. “

Trent Reznor v2 Trent Reznor 2 v1

And this week in Beijing, he again reiterated his disgust with the labels by stating

“We will put out one last album for Universal and after that we will sell albums directly to fans from our website at (say) $4 an album”.

In full empathy with their fans, he even prepared a Chinese language section on the NIN website in preparation for their first ever concert in China, with a heartfelt message to his Chinese fans which translates as follows:

“As for the special situation in China, it does not seem to be easy to obtain Western music via legal channels, so I have the following suggestion for our fans: If you can find and buy our legal CDs, I express my thanks for your support. If you cannot find it, I think that downloading from the Internet is a more acceptable option than buying pirated CDs. Our music is easy to find on the Internet, and you might not need to spend much effort to find most of our songs. If you like our songs after you’ve heard them, please feel free to share it with your friends. As I have put all my effort and heart into my music, I sincerely hope that more and more people can share the enjoyment with us.”

Reznor is adamant that fans should not have to jump through hoops of fire and pay unreasonable prices simply to get NIN’s music -  least of all in this day and age when every conceivable work of music could be made available a click away online.

As he pointed out, the world is getting smaller but labels are not taking advantage of this opportunity to put this music conveniently in front of fans. As proof of his intent and anger at artificial borders being upheld for profit, Reznor vetoed a label-planned European maxi-single for the song Capital G opting instead to release a Year Zero remix album at some point in the future. This way, fervent U.S. fans would not be forced to have to spend $30+ to import a two-song single that includes one new remix.

Reznor also stated that

“Since the CD came on the market, even with its relatively lower production costs compared to vinyl, labels saw it fit to increase prices exorbitantly while artists’ age-old contracts meant they got the same amount as before - and even granting that the labels invest in marketing and take risks, it is still a great rip-off”.

In his view, true fans are being made to pay to sustain the fat paychecks of label execs. These were the exact same sentiments that have been expressed by Chuck D of Public Enemy before - coincidentally Public Enemy was the other headlining act at the Beijing Pop Festival.

As a point of note, HMV is still selling music at global rate prices of US$18 in a lot of markets with imports going for the ridiculous price of US$25 and more. Makes one wonder if this also falls under the pirate CD category!

Reznor also thinks that DRM infested formats including the ones from iTunes do not serve fans well and he totally understands why they would instead resort to downloading ubiquitous DRM-free mp3s from BT and P2P networks.

Lest the misguided ‘music wants to be free’ movement conveniently hijack Reznor’s stance as an endorsement to free-load, he emphatically states that there has to be a way that musicians are compensated without imposing barriers to fans and abusing their trust by commanding unfair price premiums.. Hence NIN has built up an outstanding website not only to communicate directly with fans but with a view to making it easy to access their music at a fair price once NIN’s label dues are completed.

And what about the music?

Reznor reaffirmed his commitment to carrying on making the kind of music that’s brought them this far and which they still believe in. He also panned label executives who are panicking at the downturn in the music industry and subsequently try to force artists to adopt “flavor of the month Timbaland productions” as the panacea for their self-inflicted afflictions.

Reznor further added,

“We didn’t know what to expect in China as it is our first time here, so we brought all our equipment along. We didn’t want to compromise in any way and wanted to give fans the full Nine Inch Nails experience. I think we might probably have even lost some money on this show”

And what a fantastic show it was -  probably one of the more amazing shows seen in China. Credit to Beijing Pop Festival organizer Jason Magnus who moved mountains in China to put together a radical non-conformist line-up of NIN, Public Enemy, New York Dolls, Ramones (Marky) and rebel Chinese rocker Cui Jian amongst others.

However, in this digital age, the next radical act in the music industry will probably be played out online and Trent Reznor has already set the stage for it.

NIN Chinese BPF Poster

Also, thanks to Cory Doctorow for featuring this article on Boing Boing :

Boing Boing article v1

Next: Trent Reznor to Australia - Steal My Music

28 Comments »

  1. […] nenne ich doch mal Pragmatismus: Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) empfiehlt Chinesen, wenn sie seine CDs schon nicht legal kaufen können, dann sollen sie diese doch bitte […]

    Pingback by Nerdcore — Trent Reznor: Liebe Chinesen, ladet lieber runter statt bei Piraten zu kaufen — September 13, 2007 @ 8:55 pm

  2. […] Trent Reznor advises China to download his music - gripes about the record industry. link […]

    Pingback by Downloading Music « Copyright Law — September 13, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

  3. […] Trent Reznor advises China to download his music - gripes about the record industry. link […]

    Pingback by Interesting Takes on Music Downloading « The Legal Satyricon — September 13, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

  4. And those are just some of the reasons I love Trent. When you add the stuff he does like making files of his music availible to anyone to remix, and the fact the he is a particularly amazing performer, it becomes easy to see why he has such a hardcore fanbase.

    I would not be surprised to see future music from Trent/NIN released under the Creative Commons.

    Comment by Mikeal — September 13, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

  5. […] Source […]

    Pingback by Trent Reznor: Download NIN’s Music For Free, Illegally! « Where Is The Station? — September 13, 2007 @ 9:17 pm

  6. Too bad most mainstream artists (even and especially rock artists) are more into the promotional power of a major label than the music itself. Music motivated by money never last, real music travels by word-of-mouth. Support when you can, download when you can’t. Reznor gets it.

    Comment by mediamelt — September 14, 2007 @ 12:04 am

  7. So you see it’s not that hard to figure how to reach the fans like Trent has done. Maybe the pigs will figure it out and bow down but I highly doubt it. Light the fire Trent and keep it burning.

    Comment by NIN_Fan — September 14, 2007 @ 12:27 am

  8. […] Reznor, on the other hand, is one of few artists who gets it and has the balls, knowledge and integrity to do the right thing. He is the man. Published Friday, […]

    Pingback by Prince: Not Getting It - Loser-X — September 14, 2007 @ 4:22 pm

  9. […] copy of his music, then to download it from the internet instead of getting ripped off by buying pirate copies. “As for the special situation in China, it does not seem to be easy to obtain Western music […]

    Pingback by Nuclear Halitosis — September 15, 2007 @ 3:07 am

  10. […] Read full story here […]

    Pingback by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails gives download and sharing advice to fans | SkullBocks.Redirectme.Net — September 16, 2007 @ 10:45 am

  11. saw, this, pretty coo multimedia of Nine Inch Nail beijing concert:

    http://www.china-pix.com/multimedia/nin

    Comment by anonymous — September 16, 2007 @ 10:47 pm

  12. […] Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music » Trent Reznor gives Rip-off Avoidance, Download &#038… Hence NIN has built up an outstanding website not only to communicate directly with fans but with a view to making it easy to access their music at a fair price once NIN’s label dues are completed (tags: music copyright nin drm piracy china interview) […]

    Pingback by pebkac thoughts :: links for 2007-09-17 — September 17, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

  13. Wow. Good job getting the interview. That was a great gig, especially when you consider it was in the capital of communist China. China is certainly the right forum for these discussions, however, as this market will dictate that DRM is totally unworkable a lot quicker than the west will. Ed

    Comment by Ed Peto — September 18, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  14. Trent is amazing to his fans. It’s true that people are being ripped off with legit purchases of the albums. I got the Year Zero tracks by ripping a CD my friend bought which cost her almost $35. It’s insane. Thank you Trent for letting us know you stance on the issue and sticking by us.

    Comment by Irina — September 18, 2007 @ 8:14 pm

  15. […] his radical statements in China, Trent Reznor returned to his old label-stomping ground in Sydney and volleyed one of the most […]

    Pingback by Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music » Trent Reznor to Australia - Steal My Music — September 19, 2007 @ 2:07 am

  16. […] passagem pela China a propósito do primeiro concerto da banda naquele país a 9 de Setembro para aconselhar os fãs chineses a descarregarem gratuitamente a sua música da Internet em vez de a comprarem a vendedores de CDs […]

    Pingback by Música livre é marketing viral — September 19, 2007 @ 6:30 am

  17. […] Pour plus d’informations consultez : music2dot0.com […]

    Pingback by Jamendo Blog » Blog Archive » “If you like our songs after you’ve heard them, please feel free to share it with your friends” — September 19, 2007 @ 11:17 pm

  18. […] I’ve always agreed that competing with music piracy is really the only way to beat it. Trent Reznor would rather people not pay to download his music online in lieu of getting gouged $30 for a $0.05 piece of plastic. (Curiously he suggests P2P networks […]

    Pingback by Myke's 'blob. — September 20, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

  19. […] Para más información: music2dot0.com […]

    Pingback by Jamendo Blog » Blog Archive » “”If you like our songs after you’ve heard them, please feel free to share it with your friends” — September 20, 2007 @ 7:45 pm

  20. […] Trent Reznor also recently announcing that once Nine Inch Nails fulfill their Universal commitments, they will be selling their albums […]

    Pingback by Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music » Radiohead new album In Rainbows goes direct to fans - the details — October 1, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

  21. […] not renew their recording contract with their label when they have fulfilled their commitment. He told fans in Beijing, “We will put out one last album for Universal and after that we will sell albums directly to […]

    Pingback by Music Notes » Major Artists Go Independent — October 5, 2007 @ 1:24 am

  22. NOt that I advocate stealing, but what the f*%k do these people expect? Look at how much money these artists make,(which I don’t begrudge them just because I don’t)while the majority of Americans(where I live) make far, far, far, far less.

    So, over the couse of their careers, they lose $1M in sales(maybe)out of how may millions? Boo F’in Hoo. Try bein a disabled vet for 21 years at the age of 40, and living on $1100 a month(which is more than some, even many, but you get my drift)

    That’s my piece.
    Drew

    Comment by Drew — March 31, 2008 @ 4:24 am

  23. competing with music piracy is really the only way to beat it

    Comment by Music — December 11, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

  24. […] led by Trent Reznor, was already known for using the Internet to market music in creative ways and encouraging fans to download songs rather than buy pirated CDs. Then the RIAA tried to get them to stop being so gosh-darn friendly. Now their fans have released […]

    Pingback by Truth Happens | Fans use Nails to open album — January 14, 2009 @ 12:24 am

  25. […] announced that Nine Inch Nails is no longer bound to a recording contract. A couple months ago he made headlines saying that when he was off his contract, he would go indie selling NIN’s music directly from […]

    Pingback by Trent Reznor: Crackhead | Renegade Futurist — April 2, 2009 @ 2:55 am

  26. […] missed Nine Inch Nails when they played in HK but I see Reznor has done an interesting interview in Beijing. He claims that once his current contract is up, he will release his albums on his own […]

    Pingback by Hongkie Town » Blog Archive » home — November 19, 2009 @ 12:59 am

  27. I think the future is here.God finally artist getting paid by the fans Wow and no middle man. Hmmmm Could cause uprisings. lol

    Comment by OJ Stevenson — January 31, 2010 @ 1:13 am

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