Comments on: re NIN best selling cc-licensed music Blog, news, books Tue, 10 Oct 2017 06:01:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: Anita Clark Sun, 09 Jun 2013 02:16:47 +0000 I was a bit skeptical when NIN split from Interscope Records but this excellent album showed that they were still a rock force!

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By: James Mon, 12 Jan 2009 07:13:05 +0000 NIN/Reznor has developed an enormous fanbase that is willing to support him in virtually everything he does. In part, this is because almost everything he does is good. (So I’m slightly biased, but millions would agree with me.) To my knowledge, the parallel free music / paid music model has only been shown to work for established artists such as NIN and Radiohead. Reznor worked with Saul Williams to create a similarly distributed product, and Reznor felt that the sales were disappointing. More specifically, he was upset that only 1 in 5 people who downloaded Williams’s album were willing to shell out for it (see some of the backstory). I’m still enthusiastic about this approach, and hope that it catches on even among up-and-coming artists.

By: Atlanta Realtor Sun, 11 Jan 2009 19:37:39 +0000 Another factor could be the security in knowing what you’re getting. I am willing to pay for music downloads because I have a feeling (be it right or wrong) that the files are not tainted and are of the best quality.

By: James Fri, 09 Jan 2009 04:51:55 +0000 I have to agree with Sam I Am – “I certainly don’t buy into the old canard that an infringed file is inherently a lost sale.” I ran some numbers on Radiohead here – – for a blog post I did after it was revealed that Radiohead made more money through downloads alone than both Kid A and Amnesiac. I think you can conservatively guess that there have been at least 10M illegal downloads of In Rainbows over the last year (there was 2.3M in the first week). If .01% of those that downloaded illegally ever spend $10 on Radiohead they will make $1M. However, I believe the benefits of releasing the music for free primarily benefits the well established artists (Radiohead and NIN) and the very new bands seeking exposure.

By: Catching The Waves Thu, 08 Jan 2009 23:35:41 +0000 There’s room for many different types of distribution in the online music world: it can be free, pay-per-listen, pay-to-download or pay-over-the counter. The difference with CC-licensed music is that there is no incentive for anyone to break the law. NIN passed the moral imperative to the listening public and the response has been heart-warming. Free music can generate revenue in many different ways. I’m now a fan of Nine Inch Nails because I downloaded and loved Ghosts. Would I have paid for it before? Probably not (though I wouldn’t have pirated it), but now I want to buy their back catalogue. That’s good marketing.

My apologies if you’ve read this before:

I have an amateurish and sporadically updated blog, Catching The Waves, in which I enthuse about netlabel releases that have tickled my fancy. I became interested in netlabel music because it allowed me to hear styles of music that I was curious about but couldn’t afford to buy. It allowed me to explore genres that were new to me: chiptune, ambient, minimal, IDM, dub, electronica, breakbeat, experimental and so on. Now that I’ve heard some of those genres I am far more likely to buy songs/albums in those genres. The other day I bought a song from Jonathan Coulton, an artist I would not have heard of but for his online presence and habit of giving away free music. Similarly, I downloaded an album by Brad Sucks (Brad Turcotte) and liked it so much that I intend to buy his new album. Those are two artists who are going to get my money who would not have done so otherwise.

I don’t make any money from my blog. In fact, it costs me money, but it’s my way of saying thank you to people who have given away their music: the more publicity they receive, the better. I always link to the netlabel and the artist’s own website, and I encourage visitors to my blog to make a donation or pay for some of the artists’ other fare, whether that be albums, merchandise or concert tickets. Many netlabel musicians give away their music for no other reason than because they want to, though many use it as a marketing tool, building up a fan base that hopefully will “tip” them for their current music and/or pay for future releases. It’s up to them. Either way, these people have made albums that might not otherwise have seen the light of day. The quality may vary greatly but no one is forced to listen.

It’s not just one-way traffic. Netlabels spread the music; a website like Eventful allows music fans to “demand” that their favourite bands visit them. If a nascent band learn that 100 people in Nowheresville want to see them then they can stage a concert there, with a very good chance of a great reception and merchandise and record sales.

I’m not proposing an either/or music world. All I’m saying is that the netlabel/own-website scene can complement the existing music industry paradigm, allowing people to hear music without hindrance from financial constraints or perceived wisdom. Perhaps a site like Magnatune is a good compromise, allowing people to stream artists’ music as much as they want to and, if they like it enough, to pay for a DRM-free mp3? There’s also Jamendo, which offers over 8,000 albums of Creative Commons music, and allows listeners to donate to artists who might otherwise struggle to see any payment for their music.

Piracy is a bad thing. I am fully in favour of paying for music. If I want U2′s latest record then I’ll hand over the cash for it: I don’t want to rip off musicians or companies. But the internet, whether in the form of netlabels or artists’ own websites, allied with cheap software, now allows anyone to attempt to make a living as a musician. Most music, like most art, isn’t very good. But the “long tail” theory of the internet allows people to find the music that chimes with their taste. Compose an opera for xylophone and noseflute and no record company will give you the time of day – but the internet allows the xylophone and noseflute lovers of the world to search for their favourite genre and discover your opera, which you’ve recorded and released under your own steam. Who on earth is to say what’s good music and what isn’t? The record companies?

Admittedly, everything is up in the air; it’s difficult to predict what will happen to the music industry in the next few years. If I thought that netlabels were harming music and musicians then I would close my blog. But I don’t think that netlabels and “free” music will hurt the Madonnas of this world. The large record companies will continue to dominate the charts and make money from sales, merchandising and tours. But those artists who sell “only” 1,000 albums, and can’t continue because their record company has dropped them, might now be able to carry on because, thanks to the methods I’ve mentioned, they too can make money from sales, merchandising and tours. It depends what you want from your music-making. There might be fewer multi-millionaire musicians in the future but there may be more people who are able to make a living as full-time musicians. And there will be more choice for the listener. That’s a good thing, surely?

By: Artı Thu, 08 Jan 2009 14:26:59 +0000 I don’t always accept the veracity of the industry figures and I certainly don’t buy into the old canard that an infringed file is inherently a lost sale. It’s also true that online piracy really does enhance exposure for the beginner, although how they pay their bills with exposure is yet to be seen.

By: Chris Gilbey Thu, 08 Jan 2009 06:17:12 +0000 This article is really about the CC license, which the comments so far seem to have missed.

The fact is that the established ‘music industry’ as opposed to a lot of the artists who work within the industry, are absolutely terrified of what this kind of license portends, so the impact of an album released under CC is pretty important stuff.

The problems for the industry are many and they are an easy target for some. And a lot of what ails the industry is that they are facing a Darwinian problem. The environment changed radically with the combined introduction of digitally encoded files (the CD) and digital distribution (The Internet). Faced with a new environment organisms that adapt, survive. The music industry is still fighting against adapting to change – in spite of embracing digital distribution to phones and ringtones etc. Those technologies make it easy to adapt an analogue business model. The internet with P2P makes it very difficult to use those pre-existing models.

The only way for the music industry to survive is to make all content free on the Internet, paid in the mobile space and paid in the physical goods space. There is one rather complex, but nevertheless viable, way for the music industry to profit from P2P and that is to develop a model based on carbon credits.

Tom Koltai, who is a colleague of mine, is both an economist and a technologist (he founded the first ISP in Australia and has a PhD in economics). He is currently doing modeling of the real costs of physical units and the carbon footprint that is incurred in producing physical discs. The opportunities for profit for content owners from this concept is absolutely staggering according to the early data that he has developed. There is a lot of work to still be done in this area before the findings can be publicly released, but we believe that by adopting this approach the existing publishers and studios will generate huge profits, people will be entertained, artists and actors etc will be rewarded, and the planet will benefit.

Now all that may seem a bit pie in the sky to some people, but then when my grandparents were alive they would have said: People will one day fly around the world in airplanes – ridiculous”.

By the way, I was in the music business for 30+ years, was involved in the early career of AC/DC, produced records (including The Church’s first album), managed bands (including The Saints) – my last gig in the music business was at BMG in Australia, where I created the first mainstream streaming audio web site using what was then Progressive Networks (now Real Audio). Of course having done those things doesn’t really mean diddly squat, except that I was a very early adopter…..

The bottom line for all this is to say that Creative Commons is here to stay and it may very well be the thing that saves the industry from exctinction.

By: Pharamond II Thu, 08 Jan 2009 04:47:36 +0000 Alex wrote:
“Any discussion of this album’s success that is based on the metrics given by the band for sales ought to be taken with a fair grain of skepticism- the ‘triumph’ of Radiohead’s success with In Rainbows last year was roundly criticized because it was based on all sorts of assumptions that were made from numbers that came out of the total black box of Radiohead’s website/management. If we want these sorts of projects to have a real and objective voice in the dialogue about digital media I think the artists involved ought to realize the importance transparency in this respect.”

Reznor himself agreed with the idea of transparency in sales numbers so those numbers could be used for accurate research towards a viable financial music distribution model. He mentioned in either an interview, or on his blog (I don’t remember which) that he thought the guesstimation of Radiohead’s sales numbers was not going to be as much help for those trying to find a workable model, which is why he said he was going to give out an accurate number of sales of Ghosts as soon as they got the numbers. He gave out the $1.6 mill number himself, it wasn’t someone’s guess.

And because of the above reasoning, he also gave out the number of sales for Saul Williams album (which he produced and helped to distribute digitally). Originally you were allowed to have the choice of getting 320kb mp3s for free or paying $5 for higher quality files of that album. All choices came with a pdf of artwork, lyrics, and credits.

And for those saying that Amazon should get any money, Reznor said it cost him a whole $37 bucks to sell the digital files through Amazon. I don’t think he, or even a lesser-known band, is really losing out there.

By: Mike Levens Wed, 07 Jan 2009 22:42:04 +0000 …And come to think of it, when U2 gets out of the way, maybe there’ll be room instead for a hundred or a thousand more modest careers.

(If band allegiance prevents you from getting my point, please substitute in whatever artist you think rides on the most excessive music biz promotion and production resources. I’m sure you can think of one.)

By: Mike Levens Wed, 07 Jan 2009 22:19:58 +0000 @Sam I Am:

In addition to writing and arranging the songs themselves, artists today are saddled with the task of garnering a million so-called “fans’ on Facebook or MySpace with no money to tour and no clue how to monetize any of it to a decent recording, a tangible product, a website, a marketing campaign, a reasonable living.

Yeah, it’s harder in some ways. It’s possible for artists to carve out a market for themselves, and maybe the best example is Jonathan Coulton. But part of the reason that the task artists face seems so daunting, is that there’s just so many more of them.

Crosbie is correct in that the market for copies is at an end. People whose business model centered on the duplication of bits, no longer produce anything of value. But what’s often overlooked is that the proliferation of technology is making musicians out of many thousands of people who wouldn’t be otherwise, and that these people are learning the trade collaboratively. So the cost of equipment and the scarcity of production expertise are vanishing, and in addition, the old distribution channels are no longer able to restrict and meter out artists’ access to fans. Barriers to entry are collapsing, so the number of artists is exploding. And the customer base is not.

So will the kind of fame enjoyed by, say, U2, ever exist again? I don’t know.

But now that a radio-ready album can be made for a few grand’s worth of equipment plus the artist’s time, maybe there are just fewer livings to be made in it than there used to be.

By: bill Wed, 07 Jan 2009 11:03:24 +0000 Need to turn the second N in NIN backwards, professor, a la:


By: Alex Wed, 07 Jan 2009 01:35:57 +0000 Any discussion of this album’s success that is based on the metrics given by the band for sales ought to be taken with a fair grain of skepticism- the ‘triumph’ of Radiohead’s success with In Rainbows last year was roundly criticized because it was based on all sorts of assumptions that were made from numbers that came out of the total black box of Radiohead’s website/management. If we want these sorts of projects to have a real and objective voice in the dialogue about digital media I think the artists involved ought to realize the importance transparency in this respect.

By: M. David Peterson Tue, 06 Jan 2009 21:53:09 +0000 @Sam I Am:

>> “The labels killed themselves. File sharing was just their scapegoat.”

> Much of what you offer here is correct, Mr. Peterson, but that statement is a gross oversimplification.

Well sure… There’s obviously a lot more to it, but — as I’m sure yours is too — my time is limited and peoples attention spans (including my own!) too short to try and expound into all of the reasons behind the statement.

You do, however, bring out some interesting points, but please excuse me while I attend to my “must be done as soon as possible” task list items before responding in full.

Enjoy your day!

By: Crosbie Fitch Tue, 06 Jan 2009 21:51:13 +0000 @M. David Peterson:

I don’t think you’ve said anything in disagreement with me.

Those who value the art should pay the artist.
Those who value the copy should pay the printer.

There will remain a residual market for souvenir/collectible copies, e.g. vinyl.

What the Internet is dissolving is the idea that the art (and the commission to the artist) is bound with the copy.

Release the art from the impotent shackles of copyright and you change from black to white a free market in the production and distribution of copies – distinct from the production and publication of the art.

Why should the artist receive a royalty from someone else’s hard labour in producing a copy?

Let the artist be paid for their art, not the production of copies.

The difficulty facing audiences today is figuring out how they can pay the artist for their art, given they don’t need to pay them (or anyone else) for copies.

For example, if you’ve downloaded the MP3 copy for free, but want to pay the artist for their art, why also pay Amazon for a copy you don’t need? Why should Amazon get a cut of the money the audience wants to pay solely to the artist?