Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails continues his business model redesign by releasing the band's latest album as a completely free download.
And unlike his last attempt at this kind of thing, he's being much more careful about what he says about the release, presumably to avoid the kind of criticism he came in for after expressing an all too human disappointment when the "market" priced his last creative effort closer to free than to five bucks.
"This one's on me," was his simple message to fans on the release of the latest album. No ambiguity about whether or not folks might or might not pay, and no look at the balance sheet to reveal just how the band intended to pay for the recording. Presumably, they wouldn't make this move if it was going to be a straight loss for them.
All good. Fans don't need to worry about whether or not a band's models are sustainable to enjoy the music.
And how is this news being greeted? The comments following the cbc.ca story are predictably much more complimentary to Reznor, who is generally congratulated on a good album and a generous giveaway. And then there's this:
"Nice to see that some bands are not afraid to work for a living. Bands should release their recorded music for free to promote their sound and make their money by touring."
Do the acts of conceiving, writing, arranging, rehearsing, performing, recording, mixing, editing and producing music now no longer belong under the heading working for a living?
Quick note on CopyCamp 2
Last week's Toronto conference on copyright, the second annual CopyCamp was a great success as far as I could tell. I had many really informative conversations, and learned a lot. My impression -- and I heard many others express the same sentiment -- is that the widely separated solitudes that came together for CopyCamp 1 in 2006, have drawn much closer together in just a year and a half. We can now hear each other across the divide without having to shout.
That's progress and more evidence, I think, of a melting cold war on copyright.
... and in other news, apparently a proposal conceived by goodhearted songwriters like Trent Reznor is now described as an "extortion scheme" intended to keep fatcat "record executives in cigars and the finest silks." Read the full Slate article at this link. It comes to an interesting conclusion, after toying with the joyous rhetoric of anti-corporatism.