Nine Inch Nails follows Jagged Spiral into Creative Common Ground

[For Immediate Release]

It seems that Jagged Spiral’s marketing strategy is gaining traction among the band’s more famous peers.

Not just another Heavy Rock/Metal band from Minneapolis, Jagged Spiral ( smoldered in obscurity until their debut release in 2007 – Days From Evil. The album was every bit as avant-garde and eclectic as its method of its distribution. Released by label Miku Darkly under Creative Commons licensing, Days From Evil is free to download from their website, free to copy, and free to distribute. A Donation link on their website allows fans to contribute any price they see fit for the music. (They call it a “Virtual Tip Jar”).

Other groups, notibly Radiohead and Atmosphere made their albums available for free download, although the Radiohead downloads were removed from the band’s website once the CD was released. [Editor’s Note: Atmosphere’s album Strictly Leakage is still available here]

Now, has announced that Trent Reznor, primary songwriter and frontman for Nine Inch Nails and historically a Trend Setter in marketing, has decided to follow a similar formula with the new release of “Ghosts I-IV”. The first nine tracks from the album are available for free, thanks to Creative Commons licensing. The entire album spans an impressive 36 tracks of instrumental-only work. The remaining tracks of the album are available for purchase in a variety of formats, including progressively more expensive options, including a $300 Ultra-Deluxe Limited Package, of which only 2500 were made…and have already sold out.

While Jagged Spiral could not be reached for comment, the band’s manager, Sugar, was more than happy to expand on the decision to release music for free:

“It just seemed like the obvious choice for an independent artist starting out in today’s market. When a band like Jagged Spiral is just starting out, they have a limited fan base. If they released their recordings in the traditional model, they would have the traditional results – they would sell a couple copies, and they wouldn’t likely make enough to cover the cost of production. Trent Reznor has a large enough fan base that he can give away a teaser, and still make profit on the upsell.

There’s always a compromise between monetary gain and distribution. Higher cost equals limited distribution, lower cost equals larger distribution, No Cost equals unlimited distribution. When you’re starting out, it makes more sense to choose fame over fortune. Now, people around the world are sharing the songs off Days From Evil through bittorrent, limewire, e-mail and blog postings. And instead of feeling like criminals, they can feel that they are helping the band out. That’s not a ‘Street Team’ that’s a ‘World Team’ working for them 24×7.

The money can come later, once you’ve proven yourself. Crack dealers use the same method, and it works if the product is addictive. Trent Reznor is doing it right now. The first nine tracks off Ghosts are free, and if you like what you hear, and you want more, you’ll pay for it.”

While giving art away for free is not a new idea, and neither is Creative Commons licensing, Jagged Spiral’s idea of allowing the audience to pay them via donations through their website is. Sugar explains:

“Having a method for fans to donate money directly to the artist makes them feel involved in the process; it creates a loop between the artist and fans. The fans provide the resources for the artist to continue, the artist converts the resources into art for the fans. Marillion has this business model mastered. They funded their entire last album production costs off fan pre-orders ,and they’re doing it again this year. They’re working directly for the fans. It’s the internet version of the musician on the street corner with their guitar case open.”

Bands like Jagged Spiral and Nine Inch Nails giving music away for free not only fueled the buzz surrounding their releases, but also fueled the fire between the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the entire independent artist movement.

“We gave them years to come up with something, and you can’t possibly feel sorry for them. The RIAA hung themselves every day that they resisted the internet. They pulled the same bullshit when Dolby “C” and HX-Pro noise reduction got built into tape decks. It’s too late for them now, but they struggle to keep afloat with DRM infected songs on I-Tunes. Bands like Jagged Spiral and Nine Inch Nails are showing the rest of the world how the new system works. The record industry has just been outsourced by the internet.”