Indie rockers Nine Inch Nails have turned the commercial conventions of the music industry on their head. The band has shunned all form of mass promotion and only released its Ghosts I-IV album online. The first part Ghosts I was pre-released as a nine-track free download.
The free release follows last year’s much talked about Radiohead album, In Rainbows, that fans could download at a self-selected price.
Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor dismissed that release as a “marketing gimmick” in an interview with Triple J. He lauds the fact that his nine song release is 100% free of digital restrictions management (DRM) technology, high quality encoding at 320Kbps, and comes with digital extras.
Fans are entitled to download the entire 36 track compilation for $5. The album is also available in many special release options – including hard copy CD.
The strategy seems to be paying off. In the first week of release the album has grossed $1.6 million, with many more orders. Reznor points out that none of that is going to a record industry middle-man.