Trent Reznor is a God when it comes to doing what others don’t understand, pass-off as crazy, and then later praise to the heavens. Year Zero was without a doubt one of the most ambitious, cross-channel, engaging, interactive marketing concepts ever. User participation reached staggering levels and it’s difficult to see how it can ever be topped.
Well Reznor has done it again. Last year Nine Inch Nails’ released Ghosts I-IV, an album that they put out for free under a Creative Commons license. As it turns out, Ghosts I-IV went on to become the best-selling MP3 album on Amazon in 2008.
With sales of more than $1.6 million in its first week, a #1 slot on the Billboard charts, and becoming the Last.fm 4th most listened to album of the year, Ghosts I-IV has done it all.
The Creative Commons blog notes:
- 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.