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Trent Reznor talks openly about his experience with giving away music

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 16 Jan 2008 21:41 User comments (9)

Trent Reznor talks openly about his experience with giving away music In a pair of interviews published on CNet last week, Trent Reznor and Saul Williams talked extensively about their joint experiment to distribute Williams' latest album online, with consumers given the option to download for free in MP3 format or pay $5 for CD quality audio. 2 weeks ago Reznor revealed that just more than 18% of those downloading the songs chose to pay for the higher quality format.
While Reznor and Williams' experiment was overshadowed by Radiohead's online giveaway last year, and again by CES last week, their story is arguably a more accurate barometer of how the average artist might expect to fare in a market where payment for downloaded music is voluntary. Besides the pair's openness about the number of downloaders who chose to pay, unlike the Radiohead release it wasn't an album that had a large, built-in listener base to generate near-automatic sales.

Reznor seemed somewhat surprised and disappointed by the figures, commenting that perhaps he had given people too much credit, but at the same time he doesn't see the release as a mistake. When asked what he wished he had done differently, he said "I think if we could wave a magic wand and do it again I think being able to offer an inexpensive version in addition to a premium physical product that could be shipped out afterward."

He also noted that if he were releasing an album of his own right now he would "do something very similar to what we just did cause I don't think there is a better option."

Williams, on the other hand, was quite optimistic about the figures, saying "We're off to a running start. We still have a physical release date to look forward to. We still have touring to look forward to. We still have marketing and promotion that all starts this year, so I don't regret anything. Not yet."

You can read more of Trent Reznor's thoughts on the experience on his blog.

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9 user comments

117.1.2008 2:26

The better option is "option'S'"

songs at 0.30 online
albums at 4$ (or 18 songs)

CDs would start at 5$

Build your own CD and have them print the inserts and what not for it for 8$

Collections and special disc releases can be 20$

Run a free for ,run the top selling 10-20 songs changing the songs every week offer them for free or donations.

It comes down to options and that is what the media miffa lacks or restrict because tis looking out for it self not the artist.

217.1.2008 9:32
OhCrap
Inactive

First off it helps to produce a great album much like what Radiohead did. I mean they are giving away one of their best albums to date. Then when it released to CD it cost me less than 7 bucks for the better quality. It's pretty bad that Trent Reznor can barely even give his music away.

317.1.2008 12:30

Trent is too close to this to be able to think rationally about it. Most albums suck, and this one sucked. That's why people weren't paying up. I've never heard of Saul Williams until now. I listened to some of his stuff and it was awful. It's not worth a cent!

417.1.2008 13:18

Yeah, it's about time artists start stepping back to reflect on their work. It just may not be as good as they thought it would be. I didn't buy Radiohead's album, and I'm a fan. I just didn't think it was worth it. I just gave them a few $$$ for the couple songs I did like. Just because Trent realeases something, doesn't mean it's going to be liked. What an ego. He actually has the nerve to blame the consumers, "giving them too much credit."

517.1.2008 13:39
varnull
Inactive

But you did give them a couple $$ for a couple of songs. If your choice had been limited to "pay for all or have nothing" something like $15.. would you have bought at all, or looked for the pirate free option first before deciding?

It is good that some artists are starting to see that the riaa way isn't the only way, and are prepared to test the water.
Even more impressive is the way they are prepared to be open and honest about the total sales from this method.. Good on em, whether you think they are crap.. not your thing, or the most mega performers on the planet matters not..

It's good to be allowed the choice.

617.1.2008 15:42

Originally posted by varnull:
But you did give them a couple $$ for a couple of songs. If your choice had been limited to "pay for all or have nothing" something like $15.. would you have bought at all, or looked for the pirate free option first before deciding?

It is good that some artists are starting to see that the riaa way isn't the only way, and are prepared to test the water.
Even more impressive is the way they are prepared to be open and honest about the total sales from this method.. Good on em, whether you think they are crap.. not your thing, or the most mega performers on the planet matters not..

It's good to be allowed the choice.
I would not have dropped $15 on Radioheads album if that was the only other choice. And I would not purchase DRM ridden music. What's left after that? Well, I would pirate the songs I like if there was absolutely no other way to pay the artist for what I like in the format that I want.

Trent should have given his listeners more of a choice. $5 for an album that you may only like 3 songs may not be the best choice for most. Maybe he should have said $5 an album or $1/track.

But yes, choice is good. And we are getting there!

718.1.2008 1:18

Originally posted by OhCrap:
First off it helps to produce a great album much like what Radiohead did. I mean they are giving away one of their best albums to date. Then when it released to CD it cost me less than 7 bucks for the better quality. It's pretty bad that Trent Reznor can barely even give his music away.
It wasn't his music, it was an artist that has toured with him and that he's trying to prompt

819.1.2008 1:17

I agree. It just wasn't a style of music that many people feel like buying in to. If it had been something more interesting to a broader fan base, it would have sold more. It just wasn't something I would want to pay for (this kind of music).

915.2.2008 18:49

I feel that they wanted to test the market which they did and they got a feel for wat is too be expected.

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