Nine Inch Nails The Slip art direction by Rob Sheridan and Trent Reznor. Album image available under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years - this one’s on me — Trent Reznor
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 http://remix.nin.com. 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:
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
NIN actively encourages its fan base to engage with its music, through redistribution and remix via audio tracks at http://remix.nin.com 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:
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
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:
In response to these statements of fan fealty, ‘the constant skeptic’ notes:
Emphasising the importance of tour promotion and the smartness of this strategy in ensuring ongoing revenue streams, RandomCake responds:
In the week following this release, NIN led Amazon.com’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.’