Trent Reznor Serves the Music Dish Aussie Style

Whether you’ve been around the music scene your whole life or just want to, you know of Bob Lefsetz (and to know him is to love him) and his always on-point Lefsetz Letter–which you should subscribe to here. But thanks to Bob for reminding to address the Nine Inch Nails ARG again and address a few other things.

Australia’s The Herald Sun had a great Q&A with Trent Reznor about a week back and in it he raises some interesting points:
  • Do not, under any circumstances, spend winters in Europe
  • It is actually easier to steal a record than purchase it
  • His Aussie label is charging $35 for Year Zero because they know his fans will pay it
  • He’ll honor his contract, release 1 more record through Interscope, and quit the master/slave relationship
  • The cash for the 42 Entertainment ARG campaign came out of his pocket, yet Interscope has used it as a marketing tool for bringing in new acts
  • The label folks wanted to buy 42 to incorporate similar campaigns across their artist roster

Trent is so right it’s scary. One thing about the sales slide, that’s often not mentioned, is the thinning of the cash cow has really thinned the number of talented people in the music biz (they’re now at the mobile service providers he mentions).

An ARG wouldn’t work for Young Buck, an AcidPlanet remix contest wouldn’t work for Fergie. The NIN ARG campaign was an extension of Year Zero‘s ESSENCE. And Year Zero was an extension of Nine Inch Nails’ essence. It’s a large part of why it worked.

The other key factor is that Trent has fans. Nine Inch Nails fans are why news sites and music blogs first ran the story, then updated their original stories. They knew once Trent’s fans heard about it they’d be searching for more related news.

For a while I’ve proposed the idea of artists offering their fans ‘packages’ of sorts. Nowadays people buy a record for two reasons: 1) they are older and want the simplicity of leaving the Norah Jones CD in their car 2) they are actual fans of the artist and want to own a copy of their album.

No one buys records anymore because they can’t be had another way.

The same fans who pay $35 for Year Zero in Australia would pay $35 to watch 10 NIN shows on their computer or on their iPod on the train to work in the morning or during a lecture in an auditorium they have no desire to be at but worry their could be a pop quiz.

And this reasoning doesn’t apply only to artists with videos on heavy rotation in the 90s.

Take a band like Cold War Kids. They have a great live show. They’ve sold nearly 100k units of their debut Robbers & Cowards, because they have a great live show and engage their audience. It’s why Josh Deutsch went to the bank for them. They’ve sold nearly 100k albums which means 100,000 Americans are fans of the band and want to see Cold War Kids perform more than just when they come to town.

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