Thursday, June 26, 2008

NIN Releases Album Download Numbers via Google Earth

Nine Inch Nails has released download data for their recent free album The Slip in a very unique way: A Google Earth KML file that maps exact download numbers according to geographic region.

Score another one for Trent & Co. I always liked NiN, I've only really been picking up my appreciation for the group the past couple of years to be a pretty big fan. But this, this is true trailblazing. You may not care for what kind of music they play, but you have to hand it to them, they are breaking new ground daily on how the artist and the fan base are able to interact together. Sure, their have been plenty of innovators in this space, but they have mainly been smaller groups and bands.

This is something that NiN didn't have to take on. Trent could have remained oblivious to the plight of the fans as they dealt with an out of control industry mad with power and out of touch (don't believe me, when was the last time Ford tried to modify your car to prevent you from driving somewhere they didn't want you*?) Trent had made it, he has more than enough money and fame to retire off in the sunset and show up on some "Where are they now?" special ten years down the road. What was going on was fundamentally wrong in his mind, and I happen to agree 100%.

A colossus group like NiN brings with it a global following, and creditability. When Radiohead released their "Rainbows" album under they pay what you like model, industry insiders were able to play devils advocate and blow it off as a stunt when they kept the numbers to themselves.As I said before, this is a trailblazing effort, and their are going to be mistakes and disappointments along the way. When Trent released "Niggy Tardust" by Saul Williams, they followed up later with the percent of people who paid $5, and those who downloaded it for free. With only around 18% paying for the album, the results were disappointing. But, what I would point out is that this is happened in a market, where people are of a certain mindset. The audience is pretty used to be taken advantage by the music industry, and I'm willing to bet, most snagged the free lunch and ran when they saw the chance. The audience it's self isn't familiar with the model that is being put forth. Eventually it will dawn on music fan's on what is really being offered here. Its not a pre-packaged one way ticket for a sterilized individual consumer experience. This is an offering for a collaboration between musician and fan. When it dawns on the audience that its no longer going to be static interaction, and they will need to carry some water for this to work, THEN we will be on the the planes of a new world. One where the dinosaurs of industry past will be left behind to die if they refuse to follow.

Rock on Trent, Rock on!

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* - Confused? Read up on the Sony Root kit scandal

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