Trent Reznor's Online Album Experiment

In a short time this has become an interesting tale of how the future of the music industry could be.  I am in awe of how well Trent Reznor knows his fans and how he used that knowledge, for both the “Ghosts I-IV” and “Year Zero” albums to make some money for himself while giving his fans a uniquely NIN experience.

First of all I would like to make a link to an article that Will Hertling posted in a comment to “The Story of Trees” posting.  Here’s the link to the
Wired article on immersive ad campaigns .Within this article is the compelling story of how Trent Reznor in conjunction with a company called 42 Entertainment created an immersive game experience as advertising for NIN’s “Year Zero” album.

“Ghost I-IV” is a 36 track instrumental album that is being distributed online rather than through a tradition record label.  The first 9 tracks are free and there are several options to purchase the rest of the album, from a $5 album download to a $300 deluxe package.  The $300 deluxe package was offered only to the first 2500 customers who bought it.  It sold out in less than 2-days, bringing in $750K to NIN directly.  I have no idea what the material costs were, but I imagine there was some hefty margin built into that package.  This package offered CD’s, DVDs, Blue-Ray discs, vinyls, high quality digital files, and other goodies in a package that was signed by Trent Reznor — perfect for his most ardent fans (I wonder whether any of these have shown up on E-bay yet.   Wow!  This is a great example of how to work the Internet!  Offer goods for free or very little and subsidize with premium goodies to the fanatics.   Anime and manga have a similar base of ardent fans who will pay high prices and go through a lot of trouble with get exclusive goodies.  I think a similar strategy can be used with them too, if the exclusive goodies are designed by the artists themselves.  It seems the important thing with exclusive goodies is genuine love of the craft and love of the fans of the craft.

On a personal note, I purchased the $5 download via Amazon.  During the process I had to take a small detour to install an Amazon download widget (most likely a Bittorrent program).  The process was dropdead easy and the files were downloaded directly to my iTunes library.   It was an impressive customer experience.

Here are some blog entries with further details.  Enjoy!

From Techdirt:

Nine Inch Nails Sells Out Of $300 Deluxe Edition In Under Two Days

From Mike Linksvayer’s Blog

MIN US$750k for NIN

From Infomationweek
He also licensed Ghosts I-IV, a 36-song production, under a Creative Commons license that allows fans to copy and distribute the music they buy.


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