Trent Reznor: ‘No wonder people steal music’

The NIN frontman rails against overpriced music in his band’s latest blog posting.

You know I think a band really shows its true character when it comes down to a battle over either profits or creativity. It’s when a band’s back is up against that the wall that their heart and soul really comes out.

Sure Metallica, for instance, was a great band but, as soon as Lars started griping that his band was unable to get every penny that it deserved, that his million-dollar billfold was a bit light, it really made you see them for who they were. Rather than propose an alternative or show at least some kind of empathy for teenage kids unable to otherwise afford to buy all their albums, they railed against file-sharers and never seemed to miss an opportunity to reiterate RIAA talking points. As a fan of Metallica it was very painful to watch.

It’s easy for a band to say that they’re rebels, or try to say to their audience that they’re free wheeling, creative souls but, as always the proof is in deeds not words.

We saw it with Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam when they took Ticketmaster’s high ticket price monopoly to task and worked for years to try and change it.

The Dave Matthews Band allows fans to post and share live concert recordings and footage on their Ants Marching site in the spirit of the Greatful Dead and other artists whose main focus was on the music itself and not what the music puts into their pockets. Sure they have to make a buck but, at what point does reaching your audience supersede profits? There has to be a healthy balance between the two otherwise one risks alienating the very fanbase that forms the foundation upon which an artist is able to find the safety and security necessary to practice his art and talents, and more importantly, to express himself in a way that was hopefully his intention from the very start. Music does not exist in a vacuum.

NIN is a band that seems to be in tune with its listeners and what the future holds for music distribution and its ability to stay relevant. It has posted tracks from Year Zero on The Pirate Bay, and even made some tracks, clips, and snippets of material available for download on its band’s site.

Now, I think Trent Reznor, NIN’s lead singer, has made an even more startling revelation than any previous, observing the high price of physical CDs and realizing why it is that people steal music.

He writes:

As the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more. A couple of examples that quickly come to mind:

* The ABSURD retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia. Shame on you, UMG. Year Zero is selling for $34.99 Australian dollars ($29.10 US). No wonder people steal music. Avril Lavigne’s record in the same store was $21.99 ($18.21 US). By the way, when I asked a label rep about this his response was: “It’s because we know you have a real core audience that will pay whatever it costs when you put something out – you know, true fans. It’s the pop stuff we have to discount to get people to buy.”
So… I guess as a reward for being a “true fan” you get ripped off.

* The dreaded EURO Maxi-single. Nothing but a consumer rip-off that I’ve been talked into my whole career. No more.

The point is, I am trying my best to make sure the music and items NIN puts in the marketplace have value, substance and are worth you considering purchasing. I am not allowing Capital G to be repackaged into several configurations that result in you getting ripped off.

We are planning a full-length remix collection of substance that will be announced soon.

To be fair “Year Zero” is being sold for $9.99 on but, it has a list price of $17.99 and heavens knows how much it retails for elsewhere. If it really is $30 bucks in Australia I don’t know why anybody in that country would buy a CD ever again. Can you imagine shelling out $30 bucks for an album that has maybe 2 or 3 good tracks? It’s insane, and it’s nice to finally see a music artist say as much. When was the last time you heard J-Lo or any of the other “top” acts like Usher or Justin Timberlake complain about high-priced CDs? It’s the high price of physical CDs that has made people to turn to free methods like P2P and file-sharing programs like BitTorrent, KaZaA Lite, etc..

Anyways, it’s always refreshing to hear an artist acknowledge the plight of his fans and the insanity of trying to bleed them dry for $30 bucks an album.

**To note, I’ve been a fan since 89′ when a buddy of mine turned me onto “Pretty Hate Machine,” and I’ve been “down in it,” ever since, having my mom even send me the album “Broken” when I was in Boot Camp. — right on Trent! **