Two months after releasing part of their four-part “Ghosts I-IV” album for free online, Nine Inch Nails is releasing yet another new album onlin. This one is entirely free. The new album, “The Slip,” is available for download in a bunch of different formats, some of which should sound pretty good even on decent stereos. The download comes with a PDF of the album artwork and credits. Want to pay? Wait until July, when the band (Trent Reznor, really) will be releasing the CD version.
Trent has a habit of distributing music differently — and it sometimes succeeds. He pulled down $1.6 million in the first week after releasing “Ghosts I-IV” online, but that was from digital, CD and vinyl sales. But when he co-produced rapper/spoken word artist Saul William’s album, “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!,” the pair gave people the choice of paying $5 for that album, or downloading it for free. When the numbers came out, Trent suggested he was disappointed in how few people paid for the album.
So why keep going down the “free” path? There’s no option to pay for “The Slip”: All the band wants is your e-mail address. Ostensibly, Trent can use that to send out alerts about concerts and other promotions, but Nine Inch Nails is a niche band now — hard to believe that he’s harvesting new addresses he doesn’t already have. And if it’s really a statement along the lines of “I’m done trying to sell music” why release a CD at all?