Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Free At Last

So if you're not one of those people who still checks in on daily, here's the scoop from the Big Giant Head.
08 October 2007: Big News

Hello everyone. I've waited a LONG time to be able to make the following announcement: as of right now Nine Inch Nails is a totally free agent, free of any recording contract with any label. I have been under recording contracts for 18 years and have watched the business radically mutate from one thing to something inherently very different and it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate. Look for some announcements in the near future regarding 2008. Exciting times, indeed.

posted by Trent Reznor at 10:45 AM.

EEK! Trent's totally on his own now and I couldn't be more psyched about the future. We can talk 'til the cows come home about what his new artistic direction might be but what I find myself completely fascinated with right now is how a person (or group) would be able to pull this off from a monetary standpoint. Obviously Trent's going to be saving some money because he's got his own studio that should be pretty well equipped with all the newest gadgets from the Year Zero and [With_Teeth] albums so no out of pocket expense for studio time. Hell he could probably make a bit of cash by selling out his own studio time if he felt like it. And there are still the royalty checks coming in from all the other albums. And I'm sure there's loads of other income sources that I couldn't even begin to imagine but what concerns me is how do you do the world tour and US tours when there's not a record label to shell out that kind of cash for you? What do you use as collateral? Your music catalog? Your studio/equipment/etc? Your soul? And just what is fair market value for an old industrial rocker's soul these days?

It also makes me wonder about record contracts and how much they generally cover in expenses and therefore what Trent will now be picking up on his own. I mean how far did Interscope have their hands into things like the tour merchandise verses how much Trent had to do with it this last time around (and subsequently the profits from said merchandise)? We all know the first website was found on the back of a t-shirt. Interscope wouldn't have had anything to do with that if this was prior to Trent letting them in on the ARG setup. SO how long has he been studying this to make it on his own? Was the whole ARG game just a test run to see how much pull he had with the internet fans? I guess this is kind of getting away from my original point of how Trent or any of the other bands who are starting in on this "label free" bandwagon are going to make it. And, if they're successful, how is this going to change the scene for other people/bands starting out. These are exciting times and I've just got oodles of questions!


Zeemort said...

I've been feeling a general ennui when it comes to musical stuff as of late, but this- this is exciting.

Most of the bands I listen to are either stagnating, defunct or just silent recently. Right after the ARG went on hiatus (stopped forever? Fizzled? Really on hiatus?) I was beginning to worry that NIN were doing the same, but this is pushing me away from that notion.

Maybe it's naive to instantly go "omg everything's great woo yay", but I'm thinking this could lead onto more than just greater creative control for His Royal Angriness. There are other bands moving in this direction and lets face it, the music industry (and christ, the media in general) needs some freshness.

Isabel said...

Is it possible with the Radiohead thing, that someone could pay WAY over the odds for it too - like an obsessed fan might pay hundreds of pounds. I wonder if anyone has thought of the possibility of exploiting vulnerable / drunk / stupid people ? (Trent said in that Sydney Herald interview he would charge a certain rate like $4 so this wouldn't happen in that case). I can't actually physically get on the Radiohead site to see how it works, as it is so busy

maise said...

Well, I would imagine that Trent could easily see that the label regarded him as an old standby (emphasis on the *old*) with a large fanbase, but they weren't going to put in as much energy promoting him as they would the pop act du jour, so I think this gives him the opportunity to do a lot more. I really hope it works out well for him.

It's a good move, though. I think the kids that would otherwise be inclined to steal their music might be more interested in paying when they can buy it from the artist directly.

Plus, I don't know about you guys, but when the labels make some single mother of two pay $9,000 per song when *everyone* was using Kazaa to some extent back in the day just really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Do away with all that overkill, I say.

Danny Angel said...

I wish more artists had a consistent avenue in which to present their music independently. A lot of artists run their own "label" and use ryko or whoever to distribue, thereby owing money only to the distributor. I think the big labels factor in with young bands - bands always say you don't start making money until your second *hit* record - but young bands don't have the capital or, sometimes knowhow, to get their music out there. The label provides that capital - but also has the artist by the balls.

There was an article in the LA Weekly a few years back about how signing a contract essentially destroyed this good young band. The label had them so tied up that when they got shelved they lost their ability to seek a better deal and were all 30-60K in debt.

I'd love to see different approaches that suit the artists' unique vibe in how they distribute the music. Give me vinyl or downloads or read-along-books... the same tired "rock band with 10 songs on a generic cd" era has played itself wayyyyy out.

Less Nickleback more Radiohead, in other words.

The bands I like the best are the ones with different approaches to getting the music out there. Different packaging, presentation, etc. The new "CD in jewel case in best buy" leaves a lot to be desired.

You're right about Trent, Maise - the label thinks he is old and probably "knows" what to expect out of him profits wise, etc. But creatively he's run the traditional music thing into the ground. For a guy on the cutting edge of tech - please let him shake it up.

B.C. said...

The last two years of touring were self-financed by Reznor. Given that touring is a cash cow, I'm guessing he's gonna be fine. The entire last two years have been a dry run for this entire move.

The touring. The merch. The reaching out to global markets (China, Russia) that he can make touring money from, but not necessarily reach with standard record distribution...

He's been setting the stage since With Teeth, I imagine. He's said previously he only signed the new deal with Interscope for the WT/YZ era because he needed the upfront money to get recording, etc -- remember at that time he was in dire financial straits and in the midst of suing his former manager.

The first people that will break ranks from the record labels will be high powered acts that know they can do it given the nature of their fanbase. They will help establish a new model of distribution. This new model will trickle down as it always does to small acts.

Ultimately, all Reznor and Radiohead are doing is taking the DIY ethics of the punk and indie scenes to the corporate big business level. Very interesting times.

Iris said...

Okay there's been another update from the Big Giant Head. Check it out. I don't think he's ever written out this much to fans in one sitting. Trent, honey, you have to ease us in to all this wordy blogging. We're not used to reading in such long stretches from you.

But man is there a lot of excellent information in there. The remix release date, the formats, Trent's enthusiastic but still slightly bitchy comments, and the tip that [Trent_Reads]. I know this is way too soon in the game to start doubting but I hope this kind of interaction keeps up. I mean no one else out there that I can think of has put fan derived remixes on an album. That is SO smart and SO fucking cool. Can you imagine how psyched that guy (or girl) was and probably still is that Trent asked them permission to put it on the remix album!

Amazing, amazing, amazing guy, that Trent. I can't even begin to express how much I want him to succeed in this venture. And this is only the beginning, all this so far is still dealing with Interscope. Just what does he have in store for us on the official first label free release? And if I sound too fangirl over this then go fuck yourself because this is just too fucking cool.

maise said...

Wow, that *was* uncharacteristically verbose! LOL on his anticipating complaints from "NINSUX."

So wait, where was the tip-off that [Trent_Reads]?

Iris said...

Oh I was just referring to the NINSUX comment he made. Trent reads the comments (or apparently the complaints) people leave over there. I'm sure the retardation is always going to show up but I wish there weren't so many "OMG I just splooged on my screen" comments. It'd be different if they were meaning to be funny but somehow I don't think that's their point. Perhaps these are some of the people Isabel was concerned about getting ripped off because of their lack of computer skills or sobriety. I'll never really feel bad for them but at least this way it's the artist who's directly profiting. ;)

Iris said...

So BC, if touring is the cash cow like you mentioned do you think that by putting ARG clues on tour shirts was a marketing ploy to push product and beef up his bottom line or was it genuinely reaching out to fans to get them involved in the game. Or a bit of both.

And I know you can't answer this one but if the past two years have been self-financed would Interscope still be taking a cut of the tour profits since NIN was still under contract?

B.C. said...

I don't think there was every such any comment from a poster named NINSUX; I believe that was Reznor just anticipating the Ninternet bitchery that was soon to follow, and was making light of it in a sarcastic manner.

Re: touring profits -- dunno, Iris. Would depend on the terms of his contract that he negotiated with the label. Given how long MTR has been in the business, however, and his recent actions, it's clear he knows where is bread is buttered, and I imagine he would have protected himself there before signing again, but who knows?

Zeemort said...

I don't think there was every such any comment from a poster named NINSUX

Did anyone say otherwise?

Iris said...

Well if there wasn't before there sure is one now.

Zeemort said...

NIN Statistical Mathematics 101:
As more comments on any NIN blogpost are added, the likelihood of someone getting butthurt about it approaches 1.