Monday, November 05, 2007

Q&A: Reznor, Williams up digital ante with $5 album

Reuters talks to Trent Reznor and Saul Williams about their decision to circumvent the music companies and sell their new album online -- for no more than $5 each.

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor has spent the past few years using new methods to disseminate his music to fans. Past experiments have included hidden messages on T-shirts, "forgotten" USB drives in bathrooms containing copies of his last record, "Year Zero," and cryptic Web sites, all culminating in a prerelease free stream on the band's MySpace page.

Having just fulfilled his contract with longtime label Interscope, Reznor is upping the digital ante in tandem with activist/musician Saul Williams. Williams' Reznor-produced concept album, "The Rise and Fall of Niggy Tardust," which went live October 31 via the Fader label, can be obtained in three download formats: 192 kbit/s MP3, 320 kbit/s MP3 and free Lossless audio codec (FLAC).

The lower-quality MP3 is free, while the high-quality MP3 and FLAC cost $5. In a twist on the "name your own price" scheme that Radiohead employed for its recent album, "In Rainbows," fans will not be allowed to pay more than $5 for "Niggy Tardust."

Billboard spoke to Reznor and Williams about the implications of their sales model, what this might mean for future Nine Inch Nails releases and why people should be willing to pay the same amount for music as they do for a good cup of coffee.

Q: How did you decide to collaborate? What sort of time line was involved?

Trent Reznor: "A couple of years ago, I came across a video from Saul's last record, and it was like a breath of fresh air. At the time, I was looking for tour support and hand-picked him to join us on the road. We became friends and decided to try recording a couple of tracks. It turned out to be an incredibly engrossing back-and-forth experience; I think there was a lot of mutual respect, and Saul really gave me a lot of confidence."

Saul Williams: "The record started on the road, in hotels. We ended up doing three drafts. We did 14 tracks, and I sat with those for a few months. We came back, revisited them, did some more work and took another four months off, and then we got around to the final mixing."

Read the rest.

Here is a track from the new album, which I quite like.

Saul Williams - Banged And Blown Through

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