Trent Reznor Puts Fans in Charge with Successful Experimental Business Model

Trent Reznor has rocked the music world once again. The long-time front man for Nine-Inch-Nails is convinced the current music business infrastructure is broken since it requires artists to rely on labels. Reznor is looking for a new model.

Last year NIN broke free from its major label and decided to go independent, look to its fans for support, and experiment with new business models made possible by the Internet.

So far, I’d say its working for Reznor and NIN. Within 36 hours of releasing the band’s latest album online with a variety of payment options, including free, it sold-out the 2,500 $300 Limited Edition Ultra-Deluxe Packages, grossing the ARTISTS $750,000 on the album’s first 2 days available, from that option alone.

NIN’s album, “Ghosts I-IV” is released in 320 kbps .MP3 and a variety of other DRM-free formats (so there won’t be annoying incompatibility or permissions issues). The album includes many options like DVDs, CDs, booklets, music tracks for re-mixing, vinyl LPs and an assortment of other goodies that add value for the fan.

There are several payment options for fans including free, a $5-pack, a $10-set, $75-kit, and the deluxe $300 Limited Edition pack. NIN offers the album from its own website and also sells it in traditional music stores. Radiohead released an album online recently under a similar “optional” business model and it also proved a financial success for the artists.

NIN’s album is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license so NIN’s fans will be able to remix and share the tracks with their friends through lawful file-sharing.

My appreciation goes to artists like Trent Reznor for having the courage to experiment with new business models and pave the way for other artists to make a living from sharing their music.

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