Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nine Inch Nails Is Dead + The Future of the Music Industry

As reported on Prefix today, it looks like Trent Reznor will be retiring the Nine Inch Nails brand in the very near future. Reznor posted a message on the NIN official webpage stating that he's "been thinking for some time now it's time to make NIN disappear for a while [...] After some thought, we decided to book a last run of shows across the globe this year."

The tour will be with the original members of Jane's Addiction, authors of the essential and controversial 80's classic Nothing's Shocking. The dates of the tour have not been set yet, but in the meantime you can catch Trent down undah and headlining Bonnaroo this June.

If this message really does mean the end of Nine Inch Nails, thanks are due to Trent Reznor. The man has done more for the empowerment of independent musicians in the post-Napster era than anyone else, releasing albums for free while creating a business strategy that keeps a steady stream of cash coming his way without the intervention of a record label.

Reznor's independent release approach has been praised as the future of the music industry and the most viable and intelligent way to get music out to the fans:

If Trent's path is followed, not only will the music industry survive -- it will flourish. It just makes record labels useless and enables artists to have something close to complete artistic control, which all sounds like a just paradise to me. I pressed the question of this brave new future to Middleclass Haunt favorites Mogwai and heard a similar opinion:

Middleclass Haunt: Do you guys think with the new ways people are independently getting music out to the fans and seeing all of the profit for it (i.e. Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails) that you'll change the way you put your music out? I've read your rant on In Rainbows, Stuart, and you seemed to be supportive of that kind of distribution method, and given the fact that you guys pretty much run your own affairs with Rock Action, you have the luxury of being a little more executive in that kind of decision.

Mogwai (Stuart Braithwaite): I am a big fan of what Trent and to a lesser extent Radiohead have done (Radiohead having utilized a traditional label to distribute the physical release) as i think it really empowers musicians. It is a complex issue though as i still think that there is a role for labels to help artists get their music heard when they're starting out as this generally requires the type of investment that bands cannot afford. Most bands can barely afford crisps on their first tours. As far as we are concerned we are not in the same position as either of the bands you mentioned as we are up to the release of The Hawk Is Howling under contract to PIAS and how our records are released is not up to us as PIAS own the recordings. In the future however i'm sure we will consider alternative methods of releasing our records. We'll probably "do a Radiohead" in 2011. Always a wee bit behind the zeitgeist, i only just got into The Might Boosh for goodness sakes!

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