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For those of you interested in physical products, fear not. we plan to make a version of this release available on CD and vinyl in july.
May 5, 2008 5:31 AM   Subscribe

If you give Trent Reznor your email address, he'll give you a new 10-track, 43-minute long Nine Inch Nails album for free. The Slip is available in direct download in MP3 format and torrents are available for FLAC, Apple lossless, and WAV formats. The album is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License.
posted by beaucoupkevin (76 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
damn was just about to post this. waiting till i listen to the whole thing a few times before i decide but i'm hearing mixed reviews so who knows. go trent.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:54 AM on May 5, 2008


Wow. First Radiohead and now this.
The way things are going, bands are going to PAY ME to listen to their stuff.
Or at least wash my car, or something...
posted by Dizzy at 5:58 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


First Ghosts I-IV and now this!

Awesome.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:04 AM on May 5, 2008


Many thanks! Very cool - and ooh, here's the link already!
posted by pointystick at 6:08 AM on May 5, 2008


It's also being distributed via torrents (if you get FLAC or Apple Lossless), which is pretty sweet.

We're told to expect a physical release in July.
posted by King Bee at 6:12 AM on May 5, 2008


....and I should have read the title. oops.
posted by King Bee at 6:16 AM on May 5, 2008


Not sure if he's just being nice. Or if he's looking for cheap marketing. But quite cool regardless.

What the industry really needs is a standard for embedding linked images, ala album artwork & banner ads. I doulbt it'd see support from MS & Apple. But, if the independent players did & musicians started including cool album artwork, then musicians could just make money off banner ads alternating with their album artwork.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:16 AM on May 5, 2008


"Not sure if he's just being nice. Or if he's looking for cheap marketing. But quite cool regardless."

I'm sure there's a marketing aspect to it as his new tour was just announced yesterday or the day before.
posted by PenDevil at 6:25 AM on May 5, 2008


I just got the Ghosts I-IV cds in the mail today - slow service to Norway I guess.
posted by magnusbe at 6:26 AM on May 5, 2008


Must be reaaaaaal nice to already have the money to do this.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:28 AM on May 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


I would assume he's trying to further expand and build upon his mailing lists in order to promote his live shows. I got an email this week since I had bought Ghosts letting me know that hey he was coming on tour and hey since they had my address they wanted to offer me tickets "before the scalpers/brokers" got them. I dig the sentiment and I applaud the business model. Way to go, Trent!
posted by cavalier at 6:32 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well duh, of course there's a marketing angle. Acts with staying power (Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, etc) long ago realized that the real money is in the tour, and in owning as much of the tour as possible. The "album" is a promo for the tour, like a leaflet or something. I think I've moved beyond Mr Reznor musically, but I do admire his business acumen.
posted by Mister_A at 6:33 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Trent Reznor is a goddamn visionary of the music business.
posted by voltairemodern at 6:37 AM on May 5, 2008


Why does he want my email address? Can't he get his own?

Greedy bastard.
posted by grubi at 6:43 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've listened to most of the album and i really like this. I was a bit worried how it would sound being a "standard" album (with vocals) if it would be cheaper sounding and it's not. It's quite a natural progression of his sound. I wasn't a big fan of his song "discipline" which made me worry a bit at first, but this album is superb. A lot of the atmospherics of "Ghosts" is here, 3 instruments that are really tight. I plan on buying the physical form in July. I would venture to say this rivals and may be better than Year Zero .
posted by Chocomog at 6:50 AM on May 5, 2008


Wow. First Radiohead and now this.
posted by Dizzy

Between those two there was Saul Williams', also produced by Reznor.
posted by micayetoca at 6:57 AM on May 5, 2008


I'm still of the opinion that Trent's interesting musical output peaked with broken, but I love the direction he is taking things financially. I'm glad the industry finally has a mainstream (it feels funny using that word to apply to NIN) artist who is willing to throw off the shackles of Big Music and prove that good music and honesty and integrity in dealing with your fans can be just as profitable.
posted by jeffamaphone at 7:22 AM on May 5, 2008


The one thing about the music business that you can't digitize and freely distribute is the actual experience of attending a live show.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:28 AM on May 5, 2008


Way back in high school, if anyone had told me that some day bands like NIN would be giving away music for free - and that I could get it in under 5 minutes on my computer - I'd think they were high.

Technology rocks. Wish more artists would embrace the future. (Belatedly realizing that you were wrong, and still attempting to cash in doesn't count. Looking at you, Metallica.)
posted by caution live frogs at 7:32 AM on May 5, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm still of the opinion that Trent's interesting musical output peaked with broken

I'm also of that opinion, but I'm digging this album.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:43 AM on May 5, 2008



The one thing about the music business that you can't digitize and freely distribute is the actual experience of attending a live show.


They said the same thing of audio files. We'll see about that ;)
posted by darkripper at 7:47 AM on May 5, 2008


Trent Reznor is a goddamn visionary of the music business.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:37 AM on May 5


Yeah, he's a visionary. The only reason we know of him is because some record company risked millions to get him airplay, make videos, etc. This doesn't really work for new acts just starting out.

Who know who is going to be a real visionary? The record company exec who realizes that the record company should own the band's name. That way, when the original contract expires, the band can't take with them to another label the brand that the first company invested millions to create. In other words, Trent Reznor could find another label wqhen his contracts up, but Nine Inch Nails couldn't.

But it doesn't really matter. The death of the record industry doesn't mean the death of music, obviously. There will be more bands listened to by more people. But if the record companies aren't making any money, those companies won't do what they've done in the past to make music a central part of youth culture. It won't really matter what music you listen to, because it won't be a central part of youth identity (or at least not one that is recognizable to others) the way it was in the past.

Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not. I tend to think that it probably a net negative for people creating new music. If you think about it, to younger people who are new to music (or new to making their own choices about music), all of the music is unheard music. Classical, country, folk, rap, jazz, rock, etc. from any era, it's all new to them. But the Music Industry used to spend a lot of money to ensure that people buying music at the very least bought newly produced music. That biased the market in favor of newer artists, because there were many very visible outlets that marketed only new music.
Without the industry's massive spending on marketing, nearly all of which when to marketing new acts, the new acts don't have the marketing advantage. They now have to compete against decades worth of back catalogs of bands whose names are probably more familiar.

That's one aspect of it. The other aspect is that the industry will shift the majority of their resources to producing music by and for those demographics that don't download or buy from iTunes (i.e. those demographics for which computer use and broadband penetration is low). If it turns out (and this is a completely unfounded guess) that urban Hispanics use computers and have internet access at 1/10th the rate of white suburbanites, I would expect major record labels to start shifting marketing resources to finding and promoting reggaeton acts. It's not that Hispanics are a bigger demographic than whites, it's simply that they have fewer alternatives to buying music on CD and have considerably less access to Limewire and the Pirate Bay than whites.

(Disclaimer: I don't necessary know that the demographics on computer use break out along racial lines, or that hispanics listen to reggaton. MY point is simply that if downloading is killing the industry, the industry will focus on selling music to people who can't download.)

Just my $0.02.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:51 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


But if the record companies aren't making any money, those companies won't do what they've done in the past to make music a central part of youth culture.

Good. Great. FAN-frickin'-TASITIC. Music companies should not be dictating youth culture. Youth culture will do just fine without them.
posted by jeffamaphone at 7:57 AM on May 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


Yeah, tell that to my dog.
posted by Simon! at 8:04 AM on May 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Reading Pastabagel's comment (much of which I agree with), I realized that I genuinely don't know how music is marketed anymore. When I was a kid, we watched MTV. We listened to the radio. I had a hand-me-down hi-fi with a broken 8-track player I used to tune PLJ and Z-100.

Well, MTV doesn't show videos anymore, and the "classic rock" bent of the radio leads me to believe that kids don't listen much anymore, so where is the buzz coming from? There is still new pop music, and there are still new pop artists, but I really have no idea how people find ot about them.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:14 AM on May 5, 2008


Who know who is going to be a real visionary? The record company exec who realizes that the record company should own the band's name. That way, when the original contract expires, the band can't take with them to another label the brand that the first company invested millions to create.

"The first step I have taken towards the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros. was to change my name from Prince to the Love Symbol. Prince is the name that my Mother gave me at birth. Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music that I wrote. The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros.…"
posted by FatherDagon at 8:23 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


i mostly agree with pastabagel, but for nine inch nails specifically, i think they we're pretty successful before a major label dumped millions into making trent a superstar. i don't think tvt was a very big label at the time and the early videos were on mtv despite the fact that they mostly looked like my art school friend has a camera type videos. but they're the exception compared to most major acts who did require a big upfront investment.
posted by snofoam at 8:28 AM on May 5, 2008


(I know I've gone completely off-topic, but all this made me go have a listen to the new Weezer single, and you know what, Weezer? I give up. You're terrible. The last three albums have been rubbish that I tried to excuse, but this is the last straw. We don't need the fucking modern radio rock treatment on everything. Jesus fuck.)
posted by uncleozzy at 8:29 AM on May 5, 2008


Downloaded.
Listened.
Good.
posted by chillmost at 8:32 AM on May 5, 2008


Trent's first album was only noticed because it got picked up by some small radio shows, as well as on the strength of his live performances. TVT Records was a tiny label that barely promoted the album. He made his success despite his label, not because of it.

I'm having trouble reconciling the idea that the teen culture that I experienced was a result of the marketing decisions of large record labels. They definitely intersected, but I think that it's stretching it to say that we weren't deciding what we wanted to listen to. Hell, we didn't even have myspace, and we still found stuff.

I think the bands that have traditionally been promoted by the labels are going to continue being promoted, and the people who buy that notion of monolithic popular culture will keep spending. It'll be like "luxury" music to people who fall for that marketing ploy in all the other aspects of their lives. But honestly, that scene doesn't intersect with art, so who cares? Those artists that want to produce on their own are gaining huge advantages through internet distribution. They may not sell as many records, but the profit margins are way higher. And this is only important to people who really care about making quick money, which I think is a pretty small portion of real musicians when they're starting out.

I'm also not sure there's many teenagers that really want to listen to a back catalog of their parents music. That will remain uncool until we evolve into beings of pure floating energy.
posted by dosterm at 8:42 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


...where is the buzz coming from? There is still new pop music, and there are still new pop artists, but I really have no idea how people find ot about them.

Gilmour Girls? Nickolodeon? Shrek III? GTA IV? YouTube? As a parent of young kids, I find that's where they're being exposed to music.
posted by stargell at 8:47 AM on May 5, 2008


If you want NIN it's worth paying the money for Pretty Hate Machine instead, TBH.
posted by Artw at 8:48 AM on May 5, 2008


Actually, it's FIFA 08 rather than GTA IV, for my kids at least.
posted by stargell at 8:49 AM on May 5, 2008


I've wondered the same thing uncleozzy.

I assume the (free) players on myspace pages account for at least a non-trivial amount of the buzz.

I'm sure there are other ways the kids are using the network of tubes, but I'm also somewhat stymied. It's not like I'm getting a lot of pop-ups for Usher.

The influence of radio can't be understated when I was growing up, and then MTV changed everything. But as you say, MTV is now some sort of reality show network best I can tell (I can't stand more than 10 minutes of it, which I guess is a sign of my ever advancing age).

But, the other influence you left out uncleozzy was the neighborhood record store. There was always some guy in there with long hair and a black t-shirt who could give you direction and guidance based on what you liked, or what the hot new acts were. Yes, he was always pushing Rush on you, but he also knew who the Dead Milkmen were and had sense enough to steer you away from that new canadian singer Celine Dion.

I don't know what that guy does for a living anymore.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:51 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


The one thing about the music business that you can't digitize and freely distribute is the actual experience of attending a live show.

That is precisely the point! Giving away the tracks is the way to get people to come out to the show.

I think that smart labels are going to embrace the new multi-modal models for distribution. Here with NIN, we see that there is going to be a physical product as well, which means some $$ for the record co. I don't know which label is handling that. A smart label will embrace electronic transfers and fund the artists in order to produce the finest possible recordings, and also support their tours with publicity, etc; there is still a lot of business as usual to be done in this vein. The nice thing is, you can now build up a small fan base and run a tour without record co. support, because you don't have to pay for mfg. and dist. of your product. From the record co. perspective, it's a much smaller gamble to give someone $50,000 to cut ten tracks and support a regional tour, rather than pay Britney 3 brazilian dollars and hope she doesn't embarrass you again. So maybe we see more unsigned bands playing, and more bands signed to modest deals, because you don't have to produce the physical album/CD.

This may give more artists a chance to make a living playing music; we'll see how it plays out over the next few years. Anecdotally, a neighbor of mine just started playing and recording again, because his friends are all telling him that it's actually possible to run a music career as a small business.

So perhaps your chances of shooting to no.1 (whatever that even means today) with your debut are smaller now, but your chances of actually making a living playing original music are greater. This is trendily called a "long tail" argument; in the old days we'd have called it balkanization of the listening public. From this pool of working musicians, superstars will emerge and sign big-label deals, but the nature of these deals may be less exploitative and unfair, because artists can now distribute music without the record co. infrastructure. If the net result of the recording industry tumult is fewer jackoffs laying down a couple of heavily produced tracks and selling 10 million units, and more regional touring acts making a living playing the music they like to play, that's a win.
posted by Mister_A at 9:00 AM on May 5, 2008


Well, MTV doesn't show videos anymore, and the "classic rock" bent of the radio leads me to believe that kids don't listen much anymore, so where is the buzz coming from? There is still new pop music, and there are still new pop artists, but I really have no idea how people find ot about them.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:14 AM on May 5


I think they find out about it through friends and myspace/facebook/youtube, but I think youth culture is simply different now. If you grew up watching MTV, it was at a time when most kids did. It was the common experience for kids. Even if you hated the music some other kid liked, you knew what it was.

I think video games/social networking occupy the center of youth culture more than music. Music is a peripheral thing now.

I wonder if there's a way to map this, analytically. You take the penetration of a medium for transmitting culture within a given demographic. A medium would be like music, TV shows, youtube, myspace, movies, or video games, generally. Divide the penetration of the medium in the desired demographic by the number of cultural units within that medium to get the average cultural impact of any particular cultural unit. (or to be more mathematical, the impact could be weighted against its position on the power law graph (the long tail) to get a long-tail-weighted cultural impact). Furthermore, some joint analysis would reveal which medium in aggregate has the greater impact, because as the number of mediums increases, the impact of any one medium declines.

For example, music has a very high penetration among teenagers. Almost all teenagers listen to music, but if each band is a cultural unit, there are literally tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of bands in the total musical catalog. So unless the band is within the 20% that get 80% of the attention, the band isn't likely to have any great impact. Furthermore, the sheer total number of bands diminishes the total cultural impact the medium itself can have (under the theory that a star (high impact unit) supports the impact of the entire medium, and that stars rise higher when there are fewer units total).

But for videogames, there aren't really that many titles. And you have a built in technological obsolescence that prevents people from choosing old games over new ones. So how many PC and console titles are there per year. Maybe a few thousand? I bet on the consoles that number drops to the high hundreds. So while not as many people play videogames as listen to music, there are so few titles (units) that the relative impact for a videogame is much higher than for a band. Movies probably fall somewhere between music and videogames.

If someone had these numbers, I would love to be part of grinding them through this kind of analysis. This is all kind of rough and off the cuff, but I think there's a fascinating studyu in there.

My predicition: The cultural impact of motion pictures, music, television, and movies has already peaked, and they peaked in the order I listed. I would bet the cultural impact of videogames as a medium is still rising from one year to the next.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:00 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ynoxas, I think probably that guy uses Myspace to send out endless bulletins about the new Screaming Arctic Boys record and how he has an extra ticket to the Donkeyettes show this weekend.

And yeah, stargell, I suppose that product placement is part of the marketing machine these days. I do wonder, though, about Youtube and Myspace. We really are talking about hooking tastemakers here, and I just don't get how it starts. Maybe I just don't get marketing, though.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:02 AM on May 5, 2008


The one thing about the music business that you can't digitize and freely distribute is the actual experience of attending a live show.

Funnily enough I just found an email in my inbox from nin.com offering me Pre Sale Tickets for the NIN 2008 Summer Tour, presumably having got my address when I grabbed that Ghosts thing.
posted by Artw at 9:06 AM on May 5, 2008


But if the record companies aren't making any money, those companies won't do what they've done in the past to make music a central part of youth culture.

When I was a teenager, music was absolutely central to my youth culture, and yet none of us listened to much of anything published by an RIAA label. The notion that Big Music won't be responsible for dictating taste anymore seems a little... old.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:07 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


What the industry really needs is a standard for embedding linked images, ala album artwork & banner ads

Popular tagging formats already support embedded images. With FLAC you can even embed cuesheets and have an entire CD, plus art and metadata, all contained in a single file, but you can certainly embed art in MP3's and so using plain old ID3v2. I'm think most players should support that by now at least.
posted by Freaky at 9:11 AM on May 5, 2008


If you give Trent Reznor your email address, he'll sell it to spammers.

Well, maybe not. I guess he doesn't need the money.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:12 AM on May 5, 2008


When I was an active Youth Culture Participant, I learned about new bands by seeing them open for other bands I liked. The best way to promote art and culture is to get people out there participating in it.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:15 AM on May 5, 2008


Actually, now that I think about this, I wonder how much of the social networking phenomenon is a subconscious attempt to restrict the size of our own world, and limit cultural experience to something workable, thereby manufacturing the collective cultural experience that sheer numbers have obliterated from the larger work.

For example, take metafilter. Metafilter may be a series of links (i.e. pointers to units of culture, be they videos, songs, games, etc.) but it is also an opportunity to have a common cultural experience. We have all clicked on the link, but we also know that all the other mefites clicked on the link. To the extent that participating in mefi requires at least reading the comments if not commenting yourself, we have a shared experience. It may not be shared in time, but it established a common cultural vocabulary.

And it isn't just pop-culture, by the way. There are a surprising number of links and references to some classical composers and few to others. Evidently, Mefi loves Xenakis, but couldn't be bothered with Georges Bizet . And poor Brahams barely rates.

So it's our own like microculture here. If someone likes reading Mefi, they'll become much more familiar with Xenakis than Brahams. But that's okay on metafilter, because Xenakis is about 34 times more likely to come up than Brahams. Maybe it's different on Arts & Letters Daily, Fark, or even MonkeyFilter. But each of those will have their own unique cultural universe.

But the point is there is an incentive to click on the link and watch the video even if the fpp in isolation wouldn't interest you, because you know that other mefites will be watching. (assuming you care about being in the Metafilter know). Just like you might sit through Salt n Pepa videos on MTV as a teenager even if you hated rap. MTV was what everyone watched, it was more than the sum of the videos they showed. It informs the culture and tastes of others in your community, and has value in that regard.

So maybe that's what Mefi and MySpace etc are all about. Not so much about finding a community of like-minded people, but simply finding a smaller community of more manageable size in order to have a more full filing community and cultural experience (which I assume is an innate human need, to belong to a community and participate in its culture).
posted by Pastabagel at 9:22 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel writes "But if the record companies aren't making any money, those companies won't do what they've done in the past to make music a central part of youth culture."

Good. About time. "Youth culture" doesn't need the recording industry defining their interests.

"The other aspect is that the industry will shift the majority of their resources to producing music by and for those demographics that don't download or buy from iTunes (i.e. those demographics for which computer use and broadband penetration is low)."

Well, that's interesting. But the problem with that theory is that those demographics for which computer use and broadband penetration is low also has the least amount of disposable income, and also those demographics are changing and more and more have broadband. Sounds like a half-baked marketing theory of some dinosaur record exec that might be applicable for a short period of time.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:31 AM on May 5, 2008


Who know who is going to be a real visionary? The record company exec who realizes that the record company should own the band's name.

NOFX has sold 6 million albums. They're independent and they've never dealt with MTV. From their Wikipedia entry:
For years the band has consented to very few interviews and have only made a few music videos, citing the fact that they do not need any more exposure and that people were exploiting them.[14] In recent years Fat Mike has consented to more interviews, including four different interviews with Nardwuar between 2002 and 2006.[15] The band has also refused permission for their music videos to be played on MTV, VH1, and similar music channels, although they made a live appearance on NBC’s Late Night with Conan O'Brien in 2004.[16] The credits on the album Heavy Petting Zoo call on MTV, along with major labels, to "leave them the fuck alone."
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:46 AM on May 5, 2008


regicide: NOFX? I heard they suck live.
posted by rusty at 10:02 AM on May 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm also not sure there's many teenagers that really want to listen to a back catalog of their parents music. That will remain uncool until we evolve into beings of pure floating energy.

I dunno. Remember a few years ago when everyone under the age of 25 was suddenly wearing Ramones and CBGB shirts? Those kids weren't even born yet in the late seventies. Now it's all 80s nostalgia among kids who were in diapers in the 80s if they were around at all.

Hell, kids are still listening to, say, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and the Who, and some of those recordings are almost forty years old — for some teenagers now, that's their grandparents' music. Back when I was in high school in the 90s, Janis Joplin and the Doors were just as cool as any of the grunge acts, and those recordings were thirty years old.

It's just that kids are selective about their parents' back catalog. And they've got the luxury of being selective, because little of that stuff is still being advertised. Now, forty years later, nobody's slapping the Monkees all over lunch boxes and magazine covers, and it turns out that without that marketing machinery behind them, kids don't feel any obligation to give two shits about the Monkees.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:16 AM on May 5, 2008


Hey, the Monkeys had some good tunes!
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on May 5, 2008


Will it be as shit as ghosts? I dig the guy's sentiment, but giving your jam/experiment sessions away for free isn't that big a deal, and while its fun for a few hardcore fans, it also diminishes the overall cannon. Remember when he used to stamp legitimate releases as halos? Depending on your medium, publishing everything is a terrible idea.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:29 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


What the industry really needs is a standard for embedding linked images, ala album artwork...

...Popular tagging formats already support embedded images...


The very album we're talking about has unique art for each track, embedded in the MP3. As did Ghosts I-IV.

But no banner ads.
posted by CaseyB at 10:32 AM on May 5, 2008


It's a bad sign when people spend more time talking about how you distribute your music than your music itself. Ghosts I-IV is not that good. It's fine noodly experimentation, sort of the Reznor take on elevator music. But it's not much of an album. My quick sampling of The Slip on iLike makes me wonder if it's even worth the effort to download it.

And yes, I'm really trying not to be "your favourite band sucks" here. I want NIN to make new music that is interesting. But are they? Sometimes things are given away because no one will really pay for them.
posted by Nelson at 10:45 AM on May 5, 2008


Hey, it's not just the young whippersnappers embracing the new technology. Iron Maiden is allowing people to download its new best-of album for a trial listen before upgrading to a DRM-free version. And if it inspires anybody to check them out on their current tour, well, those folks are in for a night of pure triple-lead metal majesty.
posted by stargell at 10:46 AM on May 5, 2008


It's a bad sign when...

Well, whatever the OP intended, I think most people took it as first: look at this cool distribution model (that we've talked about before) and second: also you can download the new NIN.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2008


Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not. I tend to think that it probably a net negative for people creating new music.

Not really. All those bands that record companies invested these so-called 'millions' in? They all have local followings long before they get signed. That's what brings them to the attention of the record companies in the first place.

And as for the millions-- bands that I know who have signed a first album deal don't usually get a living wage out of it. The record companies generally invest just about enough to cut an album -- using their overpriced producers and facilities. And then the initial investment is used to justify a form of slavery, while the band have to earn back millions in order to pay off their $60,000 advance.

Music won't die -- it'll simply come to resemble the Northern Soul scene. None of the records that were big on that scene were ever promoted -- they were almost always out of print by the time they were discovered and played. Tracks got to be big by being played in the clubs, and by word of mouth. Eventually, demand would get high enough that someone would decide a reissue was worth doing, and sometimes, that demand was large enough to see them chart.

So, yeah, tomorrow's kids will hear about new music the same way they always have -- from their friends and from the clubs. You'll see far fewer megastars, and some musicians will have to work harder.

Tough titty.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:52 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


when i was in high school we learned a great deal about music from a friend's college-aged sister who went abroad for a year, leaving her tape collection. we also did file sharing the old fashioned way, each friend would kind of have 'their' band (i had the cure, someone had the clash, U2, etc.) and the designated person would buy their tapes and then tape them for the rest of the folks. mtv had 120 minutes, which was also a good way to hear new stuff.

actually, lots of cable access stations have some kind of non-mainstream music video show, if you're up late enough to catch it.
posted by snofoam at 10:53 AM on May 5, 2008


Is anyone else just not getting the link e-mail for the album? At all? I've tried my gmail and hotmail addresses, and nothing ever shows up. It isn't getting spam-trapped, either.

I'm wondering if this has to do with the fact that I'm in Canada.
posted by Shepherd at 11:04 AM on May 5, 2008


As for where I learn about new music these days--

--iTunes gives away at least two free singles each week, usually from new or undiscovered artists. The albums those singles come off of tend to be inexpensive--if you have Amazon Prime it can be cheaper to buy the physical CD than to download the album from iTunes. I've bought at least two albums that way in recent months.

--Pitchfork: mock their writing if you like, but each day they introduce me to five albums, and three or four of them I probably wouldn't have heard of otherwise.

--Pastabagel mentions videogames above: Guitar Hero and Rock Band are huge for introducing people to new music, or music with which they're unfamiliar. This holds as far back as the original Guitar Hero, where the unlockable songs were mostly from regional bands.
posted by Prospero at 11:10 AM on May 5, 2008


Back in the UK I used to pick up on a lot of new music when it was used in TV advertising. Not so much in the US - most US adverts suck, though TBH I'm not sure that "we have really well designed, clever adverts with good music" is a thing to boast about. Apple adverts that arn't the Hodgeman ones, usually for iPods, seem to be the exception.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on May 5, 2008


If you give Trent Reznor a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:29 AM on May 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


Nelson writes "Sometimes things are given away because no one will really pay for them."

Sometimes. But the market for recorded music is shifting very quickly. This is more a sign of experimentation in a changing market than an indicator of quality.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:40 AM on May 5, 2008


Shepherd, I'm not getting it either. I'm in the States. I tried my gmail & hotmail addresses as well. Nothing in junk filters. Bummer.
posted by JT at 11:45 AM on May 5, 2008


I ended up submitting it a couple of times and got the download, keep tryin.
posted by djseafood at 12:47 PM on May 5, 2008


It took a bit for the email to get to me, so maybe you need to give it some time. It eventually got to me, but it took half an hour or so.
posted by Stunt at 1:07 PM on May 5, 2008


I grabbed the MP3's before 8:30AM EDT today and I've been listening to this album through my daily rotation.

On this note, I have to say that I like it. Quite a lot in fact. I've been a devoted fan of Trent for more then fifteen years. I may not have liked every path he's taken, but as of late...

I feel that's he is voicing / synthing the inner human angst of what is becoming our sobering, inevitable, and all to human future.

Year Zer0 wasn't so much an alternate reality performance as... it is portentous. We know it's all coming apart. Slowly. In front of our hollowed eyes and beleaguered minds. From environmental degradation and collapse to eroding social cohesion in too many nations to bother listing. The world is re-arming for one final game of "Last Man Standing", while the starvation of billions begins to become a "market externality".

This is our downward spiral, into the darkened abyss of insignificance.

We know it's all coming down.

Slowly.

Get ready.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 1:29 PM on May 5, 2008


But if the record companies aren't making any money, those companies won't do what they've done in the past to make music a central part of youth culture.

"Youth culture" isn't synthesized in a lab by record companies. What they did in the past is take some underground scene of actual youth culture, sanitize it, neatly package it, and sell it back to kids at a tidy profit. "We stripmine your underground culture, take the bite out and rinse it clean, give ourselves credit for creating it, and sell it back to you at twice the price". Look at all the "alternative" music from the 90s, from Seattle Sub Pop rock, to Wax Trax industrial (and NIN is included in this), to west coast Lookout Records pop-punk, and so forth. All taken from youth culture, sanitized, and sold back to kids as an ersatz, pre-packaged "youth culture".

RECORD COMPANIES ARE DEAAAAAD
AND NO ONE CAAAAARES
IF THERE IS A HELL
I'LL SEEEEEE THEEEEM THERE
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:58 PM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was a kid in the 60s and a teen in the 70s. All the music we heard was on the radio (AM at first, then FM) or Dick Clark. The FM stations were mostly owned by the major AM players (this was in NYC) but seemed to be run like experiments, at least at first. You didn't hear Airplane, or Cream or Zappa much on AM, but you could hear them on FM stations. Eventually, of course, FM became the primary radio music outlet but for a while there was essentially non-commercial radio playing new (to us) artists and songs that weren't designated for release as singles. Now a station where the DJs play what they want is usually found on a college campus, if it's found anywhere at all.

I see what's happening to the music industry now as a similar sea change although I have to wonder if they'll be able to control it in quite the same way as they managed with FM radio. I hope not, seeing what the radio is like these days.
posted by tommasz at 2:03 PM on May 5, 2008


Nelson at 10:45 AM
It's a bad sign when people spend more time talking about how you distribute your music than your music itself.

I don't recall that being the case with Radiohead's album.
In fact, I don't see how its being free means it's below par.
If you don't like the CD don't assume Trent doesn't like it and wanted to throw it out there for free.
I think Trent is following Radiohead's lead, which is to come across like a maverick both in technology and marketing. True, the music is secondary in the equation. But music is most often secondary to the marketing aspect.
posted by Rashomon at 2:14 PM on May 5, 2008


The album's not too shabby. I agree that it's probably better than "Year Zero" (save for "Zero Sum").

The biggest issue I've had w/the latest NIN releases is the lack of that one song. You know the one. The song on the album that when you hear it, you need to hear it again and again. And you know the next time you're all fucked up over some recent breakup, you're gonna pull out that last NIN disc and put that one song on repeat.

On Pretty Hate Machine, it was "Something I Can Never Have"

Broken was a little too angsty for it.

Downward Spiral had "Hurt" and "A Warm Place"

The Fragile had "The Great Below", which was so amazing at its peak that I almost thought I'd go into a coma if Trent ever wrote a more powerful and emotionally-charged song.

Still had "All That Could Have Been"

With Teeth even managed to break up an otherwise wholly unfulfilling album with "Right Where it Belongs".

So, I wait with a diminishing hope that maybe Trent will get dumped by a woman he was for sure was "the one" and then works tirelessly on one new track for 2 months straight while he tries to get over it.

Whatever song comes out of that - I'll buy sight unseen.
posted by revmitcz at 5:24 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The one thing about the music business that you can't digitize and freely distribute is the actual experience of attending a live show.

I take it you haven't seen the movie U2 3D.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:46 PM on May 5, 2008


No, Radiohead was following Trent. :P
posted by jeffburdges at 8:58 PM on May 5, 2008


regicide: NOFX? I heard they suck live.
posted by rusty at 5:02 AM on May 6


I'm gonna make a toast when it falls apart
I'm gonna raise my glass above my heart
Then someone shouts "That's what they get!"

For all the years of hit and run
For all the piss broke bands on VH1
Where did all, their money go?
Don't we all know.
Parasitic music industry
As it destroys itself
We'll show them how it's supposed to be...
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 9:09 PM on May 5, 2008


Metafilter may be a series of links (i.e. pointers to units of culture, be they videos, songs, games, etc.) but it is also an opportunity to have a common cultural experience. We have all clicked on the link

I haven't.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:23 AM on May 6, 2008


Look at all the "alternative" music from the 90s, from Seattle Sub Pop rock, to Wax Trax industrial (and NIN is included in this), to west coast Lookout Records pop-punk, and so forth

This was poorly phrased. What I meant is, Sub Pop/Wax Trax/Lookout/etc. was the source material, and the sanitized clones came out on major labels, if that was unclear.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:10 AM on May 6, 2008


I'm liking the album quite a bit. Much moreso than Ghosts, which didn't hold my interest as long as I'd have liked (there's some gems on it, but I can't shake the feeling that the whole thing sounds incomplete). I need more time to digest this one, but the last four songs may be my favorite thing Trent's done in years. Corona Radiata is absolutely wonderful headphones music.
posted by kryptondog at 10:05 AM on May 6, 2008


I like it all, and would have paid for it.
posted by Senator at 5:37 PM on May 6, 2008


If I give Trent my email address, he'll probably give me a STD.
posted by dasheekeejones at 7:06 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


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