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Trent Reznor pulls a Radiohead

Doug Krizner Mar 14, 2008


Doug Krizner: The rock band Nine Inch Nails has a new album.
And it’s being sold exclusively on the Internet. In the first week, the release titled “Ghosts One Through Four,” had sales worth $1.6 million. And how much will the record label get? None. Trent Reznor, the force behind the band, released the whole thing by himself.

Let’s bring in Bill Werde of Billboard Magazine. Bill, is this success any surprise?

Bill Werde: No. I mean the shock around the world on this front was really Radiohead towards the end of last year, when they decided instead of reupping their contract with EMI, they took it straight to the Internet. And they put it online and they let fans decide what the fans wanted to pay for it. You know, it was a pretty controversial thing in the music business, because I think a lot of people in the music business have vested interest in seeing that not necessarily work. The bands that you’re seeing succeed with a sort of more experimental approach of going directly to fans are bands that frankly major labels have already made big brands. So in other words, if you’re Nine Inch Nails, your fanbase knows you, and it’s much easier to reach that fanbase — they’re looking for your music, they’re looking for information on you.

Krizner: But I would imagine that their record label is gonna be a little annoyed with this — and isn’t it likely we could see some kind ofrepercussionss down the road?

Werde: Well, what’s happening is — I mean, this is a divorce situation. This is a . . . you know, Nine Inch Nails was deeply and publicly dissatisfied with the service he felt he was getting from Interscope. He felt, you know, he was very critical of them in the press, and they ultimately let him out of his contract. It was a cancerous situation that played out in the public. I can’t think of a situation where one of these major stars stayed on the label and did this. This is a situation where these major stars are taking their toys and going home. And the labels, I think to some extent rightfully, are saying hey, those are my toys.

Krizner: Bill Werde is managing editor for Billboard Magazine. You can check out what Bill and his colleagues are up to at billboard.biz. Bill, always a pleasure, thanks so much.

Werde: Yeah, thanks Doug.

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