NIN’s BitTorrent Releases Becomes Amazon’s Top-Selling Album of ’08

Even though the album was available for free on BitTorrent tracker sites everywhere, fans purchased the album from the online retailer in droves.

In a surprising feat which the RIAA claims is impossible with illegal file-sharing, NIN’s “Ghosts I-IV” was announced as being Amazon’s top selling MP3 album of 2008.

What makes it so amazing is that NIN frontman Trent Reznor personally uploaded “Ghosts I” to The Pirate Bay and private BitTorrent tracker site

“Now that we’re no longer constrained by a record label, we’ve decided to personally upload Ghosts I, the first of the four volumes, to various torrent sites, because we believe BitTorrent is a revolutionary digital distribution method, and we believe in finding ways to utilize new technologies instead of fighting them,” he wrote.

In addition, he offered it all up under a Creative Commons license so that listeners were free to mix and share NIN’s work.

A post on the Creative Commons blog praises the achievement:

NIN fans could have gone to any file sharing network to download the entire CC-BY-NC-SA album legally. Many did, and thousands will continue to do so. So why would fans bother buying files that were identical to the ones on the file sharing networks? One explanation is the convenience and ease of use of NIN and Amazon’s MP3 stores. But another is that fans understood that purchasing MP3s would directly support the music and career of a musician they liked.

The next time someone tries to convince you that releasing music under CC will cannibalize digital sales, remember that Ghosts I-IV broke that rule, and point them here.

Being available for free didn’t stop NIN fans from album in record numbers. Estimates put Reznor’s early sales of ” Ghosts I-IV” at $750,000, later reaching $1.6 million in its first week of release. He did this by offering $75 and $300 deluxe versions that included things like a Blu-ray disc, a DVD of the multitrack audio files from the project, videos, deluxe packaging, and more.

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