Ghosts I-IVI heard on the radio yesterday that Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails was releasing an all instrumental album/cd/8 Track/whatever you call it now, entitled Ghosts I-IV. I was very excited to hear this even though, I haven’t been an active fan since The Downward Spiral. I’ve always wanted him to release an instrumental collection as I was never really a fan of his vocal stylings and have always thought of this voice as another instrument. I have however been following Reznor, watching to see how he promotes his music (especially after his contract expired) within the new industry landscape. A landscape that increasingly resembles of an enormous crater from a meteor strike.

I went this morning to take a look at the experience Trent has created. The URL is http://ghosts.nin.com and it feels very familiar to long-time fans. There are a myriad of options for people to attain the music and associated media (images, avatars, wall papers, etc). This type of virtual packaging makes sense as Trent has always created “visual music”. I chose the $5 download and have been listening to it. Excellent sounds with much texture.

This release is a preview of things to come in regards to music releases and creates some very interesting questions.

  1. With the editorial voice gone and musicians able to be more free with their creations will musicians lose fans or will their simply be a shift in the audience. This may not be as true with NIN due to their loyal following and for newer bands it could be a concern. Editors help expand the niche and a lack of an external filter could produce some interesting effects.
  2. The wallpapers, images, ads and avatars are all pretty standard for a NIN release and I would like to see a more robust tool set. Where is the video? Where are the tools to alter the video? Not just editing. I’m thinking of interactive TV. It’s interesting to think about. NIN owns their brand the same way that Apple owns their brand. Not much goes on that they don’t control. Giving fans raw materials (video) and a toolset that allows them to manipulate that video (aka build/destroy/transform brand equity) may be too risky in Trent’s eyes.
  3. There was no option to view an advertisement in return for a free download. My guess is that Trent loathes advertising and was unwilling to allow for this type of transaction. Although he does understand new marketing.

I’m curious to see future releases and how Trent partners with his online following.

As for the new release I wish NIN had done this instrumental piece earlier, when their music was more acidic/powerful. I also wish he would have teamed up at that time with Peter Gabriel and created a Yin Yang album. That’s something I’ve always wanted to hear.

Trent’s First Step