Thank You Nine Inch Nails

I’ve had a post lurking (yes, lurking) in draft mode for about a month now. It’s been sitting there simply because it is a diatribe about how the music industry really has not really helped in innovation but has been more of a tool for imposing legislation and squeezing every last dollar out of us. Ok, it’s really a tirade which I have yet to be able to clean up simply because every time I re-visit it I get all riled up and write more harsh things.

While I write this post, thinking about the other one, I’m pretty sure I can feel my blood pressure rising. Yet I’m immediately calmed simply because I have music playing in the background. What music you say? Glad you asked.

Nine Inch Nails - GhostsI am currently listening to the first 9 tracks of the latest Nine Inch Nails 36 track, 2 disc set called Ghosts I-IV. The calming part is that this album has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license.

This music arrived unexpectedly as the result of an experiment. The rules were as follows: 10 weeks, no clear agenda, no overthinking, everything driven by impulse. Whatever happens during that time gets released as… something.


The end result is a wildly varied body of music that we’re able to present to the world in ways the confines of a major record label would never have allowed – from a 100% DRM-free, high-quality download, to the most luxurious physical package we’ve ever created.

So the music is ‘experimental’, yet the reality is that 5 years ago or so it would have been pressed to CD and shipped out to stores to decide its fate. Instead, we can now actually go directly to the site, and download the music without restriction. Want to use it? Great, just make sure you follow the CC license and you’re good to go. But wait, want to download all 36 tracks? Great, pay just $5. Want more than digital – want various physical editions? Great, you can order them off the site too.

Not only is there a free component, but if you actually want a limited edition in the physical you can get that too (sadly the first 2500 ‘ultra-deluxe limited editions’ are already gone). Sure there have been many bands who have released free downloads and have sold physical albums – but that’s not the point.

NiN has actually said that we can share their music, we can’t use it for commercial purposes, and if we share it, we just need to attribute it back to them – otherwise, go nuts. Oh, and if you’re a collector and would like some great stuff, we have physical versions available too that are pretty sweet – but don’t worry download folks, we’re going to include some web graphics, wallpapers, and a PDF with all the artwork for the album too in your download.

The fact that there is such extremes in the presentation, speaks volumes that I hope other bands will pick up on. I am hoping that the change is upon us where bands realize that they can actually provide music for free, they can still sell their albums (better make it worth buying though!), and when all is said and done, the people have talked you up globally, and have become in love with your music. The fact is that $5 for 36 tracks isn’t all that much (and I’ll likely pay it), yet come to Toronto and I’ll pay whatever price you set to actually see you live. Heck, spend a week and have sold out shows every single night.

The simple statement “we’re able to present to the world in ways the confines of a major record label would never have allowed” sums it all up nicely, doesn’t it?