So we've all known for a long time that the music Biz and their model of operations is about as healthy as an Ebola patient who has started bleeding from the eyes. Artists not getting paid, fans being sued, albums costing too much, radio stations being bribed to play their music, and let's not even talk about the negative effects of rap music on the African American community. So it's no shock that everyone is looking for a different way of doing things.
I think something big has happened though and it brings a lot of questions to mind. In Oct of 2007 Nine Inch Nails announced that they were ditching their record label and were going to self release their music. This probably isn't too much of a surprise after Reznor called out to fans in Australia to steal his albums because they cost too much there and we have to assume that the label wasn't a big fan of that call to arms. And I know Trent isn't the first to self release to the internet or make his own CD's without a labels help. I listen to a lot of punk and have CD's that range from being burnt on the artists computers to bands starting their own small labels and getting the CD's pressed themselves. I just think NIN has done it the best. They made a release for every fan out there. In my opinion there are three kinds of people a band can target:
1 The In Crowd
These people don't really care about music or the artists. They listen to what ever is popular right now, then when the next trend roles through they buy that next big thing and might as well just go out and throw away their old CD's because they aren't hip anymore. Bands will get big on these kind of people but if they can't get real fans they have no longevity. These people are the record industries bread and butter as well as the advertising worlds and old navy's. They are also probably the largest file swappers out there because they can't afford to keep buying CD's all the time and keep up their Starbucks habit.
2 The Music Fan
These people like music all kinds of music they will follow the trends to some extent but will dive further into an artist that really peaks their interest. They will buy their back catalog maybe and possibly even check out some of the bands that are associated with a band they like. Chances are though they aren't going to invest a lot of time or money into it, music is the back ground not the subject.
3 Hardcore Fans/Collectors
I lump these two together even though they are different beasts because for a band trying to market their music they are pretty close. A Hardcore Fan loves the band. I mean really loves the band and will keep loving the band for a good long time. They have every CD by the band. Magazine articles about them. The rare demo tapes they bought off eBay. Maybe tattoos from the band. These people straddle the line of sanity when it comes to the band and I'm allowed to say this because I'm one of them (I own 4 different copies of Less Than Jake's "Hello Rockview" album and I'm still slightly upset that I don't own every version they put out). Collectors are really into the band too but not as obsessive. They want every version of every album put out by a band but that's because they want every version of every album put out by any band or at least a genre of music. Both of these type of people will make the band a lot of money because they will probably buy other stuff too like T-shirts (which are the real way artists make money), stickers, patches, and other schwag.
NIN have catered to all three of these types of buyers/downloaders with their new self release method. They made 5 buying options:
1 Free for the first 9 songs. Which is great for the In Crowd and the music fans who just want a taste.
2 $5 to download the full CD. Affordable for the In Crowd who didn't get the single they needed from the free stuff or the Music Fan who has gone completely digital.
3 $10 to download and get the physical CD's. Music fans and mild collectors get the put their mits on it.
4 $75 for the CD's and a ton of other stuff. Great for collectors and hardcore fans who haven't sold enough blood to buy...
5 $300 limited edition signed copies with both CD and Vinyl and a ton of other stuff. How can we see this system looks like a good idea. All 2500 of these packages were sold out in the first day available.
So what does this mean to the industry? NIN is making it work. They should make a good deal of money off of it further enabling them to continue doing this and probably convincing others to do the same. So if all the major artists who are real artists left their major labels and went to a self release model like this what would happen to the industry and music as we know it? Would the industry die and take crap pop with it or will the mindless pop become the only thing (even more than it is) that we hear on the radio? I don't know yet but I think Trent and his buddies should pat themselves on the back for what they are doing and I think this maybe the shot heard round the world in the music industry revolution.