Case Studies/Nine Inch Nails The Slip

From Creative Commons
Jump to: navigation, search

Image, Sound
Adoption date unspecified
NIN, fan, remix, business model


Evaluation Information.png
Page Importance: A-Class
Page Quality: High
The Slip, a ten-track album by American band Nine Inch Nails (NIN), is the second artistic release made available to fans ‘for free’ under a Creative Commons licence.

thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years - this one’s on me Trent Reznor


‘It’s loud, abrasive, difficult, angry, explosive, and, oh yeah, absolutely free.’ Beacon News

Two months after the release of Ghosts I-IV, prominent and polemic American noir rock band Nine Inch Nails has licensed a second album under Creative Commons, The Slip. Pitched as ‘one hundred percent free’ by front man Trent Reznor, The Slip (aka Halo 27) has been proclaimed as a further challenge to the music industry, defining an alternative path for musicians interested in the self-promotion of works. Available for digital download in an array of formats – mp3, lossless FLAC, m4a, and the impressive higher-than-CD quality 24-bit, 96kHz .wav files via torrents – the ten tracks are readily remixable via their multi-track audio source files at The release also includes a pdf with artwork and credits.

Pre-empting the album release, the single Discipline was distributed freely via the official NIN site in April 2008, and a second, Echoplex, was released for free from iLike. The Slip’s track listing is as follows:

  1. 999,999 – 1:25
  2. 1,000,000 – 3:56
  3. Letting You – 3:49
  4. Discipline – 4:19
  5. Echoplex – 4:45
  6. Head Down – 4:55
  7. Lights in the Sky – 3:29
  8. Corona Radiata – 7:33
  9. The Four of Us Are Dying – 4:37
  10. Demon Seed – 4:59

To cater for the substantial fan base interested in acquiring sought-after merchandise, NIN released the album on vinyl and CD under a variable pricing model over the American summer period.

The Slip was written by Trent Reznor
Performed by Trent Reznor with Josh Freese, Robin Finck and Alessandro Cortini
Produced by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder
Mixed by Alan Moulder
Programmed by Atticus Ross
Engineered by Michael Tuller, Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder

License Usage

NIN actively encourages its fan base to engage with its music, through redistribution and remix via audio tracks at and user-generated film festivals on YouTube. As with Ghosts I-IV, The Slip is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States licence. NIN’s intention with this release is clear, as per the download site:

‘we encourage you to
remix it
share it with your friends,
post it on your blog,
play it on your podcast,
give it to strangers,

In contrast to services which prevent re-distribution of tracks, all files are 100% DRM-free.


Releasing under Creative Commons licences has been a successful strategy for NIN: the manoeuvre has accrued substantial profit and prominence in the world-wide press. As widely reported on 4 March 2008, the $300 ultra deluxe edition of Ghosts I-IV, limited to 2500 copies, sold out in a matter of days. With fans still keen to seek ‘personalisation, authenticity, embodiment’ in the hard copy, Kevin Kelly notes that considerable incentives remain surrounding items released for ‘free.’ In relation to the release of the deluxe editions and associated products, Mike Linksvayer observes: ‘If an artist typically makes $1.60 on a $15.99 CD sale, profit from sales of the limited edition already matches profit from a CD selling hundreds of thousands of copies.’ body jewellery

Celebrating their North American tour with a free EP sampler Lights In the Sky, Trent Reznor adds:

‘If you like what you hear, be sure to show up early to the show (and please remember to support them by purchasing their music, if so inclined).’

Evident throughout entries such as Wired Magazine’s Listening Post announcing the release on 5 May 2008, reactions from the fans continue to be strongly positive:

‘Reznor is the man!!!!! I swear I am going to buy his next (for sale) studio album just b/c he is so f#$%ng cool’ Glenn
‘And it’s another epic victory for Reznor. Three albums in practically a year, and all of them absolutely stellar. The man knows music, plain and simple. I’ll be picking up a vinyl copy come July.’ McTool

In response to these statements of fan fealty, ‘the constant skeptic’ notes:

‘@glenn that is exactly what Reznor is hoping he will do, convince his fans that he is the man so that the next time something is for sale they will buy it up. It is called selling free, and it works every time, especially in the online arena. Still, it is a masterful move and shows that he knows how to manage his brand better than anyone else out there right now, besides maybe radiohead.’ nursing essays

Emphasising the importance of tour promotion and the smartness of this strategy in ensuring ongoing revenue streams, RandomCake responds:

‘@the constant skeptic, Well, I’m not sure Trent really cares about every day record sales these days, these free downloads really help with tour sales, and tours are a lot more profitable than CD sales, then there are the limited edition items such as vinyl and numbered CDs which really help to rake it in (Ghosts had an ‘Ultra Limited Edition Package’ at $300, and there were 2,500 of them so that’s $750,000 made there!) Then there are other options, so without selling huge quantities there is large profit, and by giving away large quantities he gains mass appeal! Win win all round!’ Humphrey and Brand Residential Lettings

In the week following this release, NIN led’s mp3 chart, with Radiohead coming in at number 5. As Wired’s Eliot Van Buskirk muses: ‘There's a lesson for the labels in there somewhere.’


NIN The Slip.jpg