NIN and the ever-moving boundaries

I’ve blogged about Trent Reznor / Nine Inch Nails so much already I’m starting to feel like I should rename this blog, but allow me to go down this route once again.

Today Nine Inch Nails quietly released their latest album, The Slip, on their website for absolutely no price. You can download the 10-track release in a variety of formats (high quality mp3, FLAC, M4A or even high-def WAVE 24/96), all DRM-free – all you have to do is give your email address and it’s yours.

Apparently the album is a thank-you to loyal fans of the band but it’s just another sign that Reznor is on the cutting edge in terms of figuring out this whole internet business. His last proper studio album, Year Zero, was accompanied by a detailed ‘Alternative Reality Game’ which set up an in-depth world of which the music was only a part (as an aside – this release undoubtedly has some connection to the Year Zero world and my gut feeling is that this is just part of a build-up to the actual “sequel” release to Year Zero Pt. 1). He put part of his recent instrumental album Ghosts online for free and the rest for a $5 DRM-free download – he also offered a variety of physical release models which are likely to have grabbed him a fair bit of income too. He also tried out a similar model for an act that wouldn’t be as well known – Saul Williams – although all this did was show that people will take things for free if given the option.

The build up to this release has been small – although bigger than that of Ghosts which came completely out of the blue. A few weeks ago Reznor, who is now record label-less, released a new NIN single called Discipline. The song was sent to various radio stations across the US and put up online for free; all you had to do was visit the website, give an email address and it was yours. The song was fresh off the mixing desk – apparently it was only mastered the day before it was released – and it came with a teaser telling fans to keep an eye on on 5th May.

A few days ago a second song was released for free online, this time it was done through the Facebook iLike application. Again, it reminded fans to check out on 5th May – and so they did.

The Slip is well worth downloading (it’s free, you know?) and there are some solid tracks on there. At the very least you get to appreciate just how good a producer Reznor can be, even if his lyrics often let him down. As has been the trend with the last few releases, you can also download the multi-tracks from the album and remix it to your heart’s content… or you could just let someone capable do that for you and enjoy the results.

The website says it encourages people to “remix it, share it with your friends, post it on your blog, play it on your podcast, give it to strangers, etc.” so here are the three torrent files from the website which should make it even easier to download:

FLAC torrent (259mb)
M4A torrent (263mb)
WAVE 24/96 torrent (1.2gb)
Mp3 download [zip file - link may not work but putting it up just to try] (87mb)