ninslip Nine Inch Nails are back with another free release; this time, it’s an upcoming album release called "The Slip". And NIN continue to give us the kinds of formats we like, with the income this time coming entirely from physical sales:

the music is available in a variety of formats including high-quality MP3, FLAC or M4A lossless at CD quality and even higher-than-CD quality 24/96 WAVE. your link will include all options – all free. all downloads include a PDF with artwork and credits.

for those of you interested in physical products, fear not. we plan to make a version of this release available on CD and vinyl in july. details coming soon.

The Slip Minisite (NIN)

Okay, 24/96 WAV files seem sort of like overkill, but it’s nice to have these other options.

Updated: It also seems that NIN has used a Creative Commons attribution / non-commercial / share alike license, so you can remix their track for non-commercial purposes, free. (That’s quite a lot more generous, I’m afraid, than Radiohead in their remix contest — the objection from many observers wasn’t just that Radiohead was charging for the stems of “Nude” separately, but that they retained copyright ownership to remix artists’ work.)

One thing no one seemed to mention about the previous NIN release Ghosts was that the content of the music had taken a different and presumably non-commercial direction, meaning the new distribution method was basically a necessity. I enjoyed that direction, and a lot of you evidently did, too.

But judging by the way this is spreading through the Web, I think we’ve learned that there’s a three-step method to making music distribution a success: 1. give people something free, then hope for sales of something else, 2. give them access to the formats they want, 3. be Nine Inch Nails. Now if only #3 were a bit easier.

  • WTF? I'm four tracks into listening to this (and have sampled the entire thing), and this might be (seriously) their best release yet. I'll admit, I've fallen off the NIN-fan wagon, but have at least given each of their releases a decent listen.

    There's a couple of instrumentals, and a quieter piano driven track, but most of it is pretty up-tempo rock, with a smattering of cheap overdriven drum machines and what's likely a heavy dose of Metasonix fx on stuff. Trent's vocals are of the usual timbre, but subjectively far less adolescent and whiny than anything, by a *long* shot. They're more David Byrne and Gary Numan than anything.

    Lastly, does this guy sleep? I've got to say, it's nice to see Trent come back from a celebrity trainwreck to someone pushing the envelope of giving the record industry the finger *and* putting out a solid rock album.

  • Also this is released under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa license.

  • I love the direction that the music industry is going. While no one really knows how this revolution will look in a few months or a few years, bands like NIN and Radiohead (and all the smaller ones doing similar things) are really changing the landscape.

    Whether you are an advocate of free music or not, I think the key takeaway here is the bands deciding how they want their music distributed and the article makes a good point that giving something away for free is a great way to drive the sales of something else.

    Go NIN!

  • We're moving towards the future very fast these days, it seems 😉 — it's all good. But it hurts to see even well known acts give away their music for free… that may well mean us mere unknowns will never earn a penny with this..

  • Well, worth pointing out, it is possible to sell music and to put it under a Creative Commons license. So "free" can mean a number of things. I find that I'm consuming free and for-fee music alike these days.

  • Kobe

    -I’ve always liked downloading the album & buying the vinyl, as was the case for portishead, air, saint Etienne, nine inch nails, radiohead & massive attack.

    -actually, I did buy all those cds. Multiple times actually in many instances – whether they were gifts or if I just rolled over one by accident when sliding my car seat back (whoops.). But it was definitely a concept I considered when I had turntables hooked up & played vinyl regularly. It was always enjoyable to hear it on vinyl. With the popularity of turntables & dj culture, the industry should push more toward selling turntables not just for prosumer types but actually for the masses. There’s been no real marketing push. & any examples of indications toward any remotely related attempts to do so are really some type of insulting, kitschy joke, ie the numark idj2 ipod mixer.

    If high school kids owned basic real turntables they’d be collecting records again. It’s addictive. And the size of the media really lets you appreciate the artwork. It also looks cool on a shelf or crate, whereas cd jewel cases are cumbersome & annoying. I have boxes of jewel cases with artwork in my closet taking up space. I don’t want to throw out all the artwork, but I also don’t really go through it or have it on display either.

    Another problem has been shitty quality speakers that most stereo systems & even moreso, computers come with. I believe that’s the basis of the compression/loudness war.

    Then again this could actually be leveraged to benefit the industry as anybody who has experienced the sound of 180 grams going through a nice set of woofers vs. some overcompressed (in terms of both sonics and byte-crunching) data coming out some white earbuds will appreciate the warm creamy analog goodness that much more. Enough to invest in the experience.

    People like to be part of something. That’s one thing that REALLY came out at Coachella. I mean it’s something I’ve realized years ago but you really see it there. it’s more than a concert. It’s an event, a vacation. Music needs to be more than a product but a culture, no matter how true to high art or purely commercial utlilty it may serve. This is a constant. I think sometimes people forget.

    if the culture were actually cultivated, you would not need to BE nine inch nails for this to be a viable and successful business model, for yes, even you, as long as you don't suck.

    -this is where the record labels might want to start paying attention, as this is an opportunity for them to attain what semblance of relevance they may still be able to salvage.

    promoting and cultivating the culture is what the labels can still do that artists as individuals might not be able to do so easily and freely. solidify the distribution channels. allay the confusion.

    why is it taking 10 years for something that came as an obvious musing to me and i'm sure others the day i first bought a vinyl album after hearing the mp3s, to finally make it to the consciousness of people who get paid obscene sums of money to actually think of shit like this for a living?

  • This concept of free music in intriguing. It is great to see the barriers to distribution being torn down but, just like everything else, there is a price to be paid and it comes in the form of concert tickets. Probably now more than ever touring is fundamental to exposure and possibly success. The cost of tickets have skyrocketed the last 10 years even for bands that do not put on a large production. If free music is the future of distribution, expect to see the cost of concerts to continue increasing.

  • Downpressor

    Roland said what I wanted to say but let me say more. "Name" acts like NiN giving so much away set a terrible precedent because now more and more people are going to expect the same from the small guys. Yes its great that NiN has options like this and so does everyone else, but the counter to that is now more people will just assume every creator should give their work away.

  • Kobe is right the main thing really is to engage people with music again and the value of music. The problem as i see it has been caused by endless reality shows such as pop idol, band making reality shows etc. which have changed the way the mass see music right now. To them it's a sham.

    The key is to balance engaging people by giving them enough free audio regularly and in making physical versions available so people can support the music they love financially (donation/vinyl/cd etc.)

    Labels could do so much more, i have given away Mp3 files for free and unrestricted since 1997 and it gets people interested for sure. Recently i released a 12" and for those who bought this record i gave them very high quality encoded MP3 files from the master for free along with other free audio which saved them from ripping and encoding the audio themselves. I didn't have to do that, but i did it because it's a good thing to do to those who support what i do.

    I also a few years back gave away a 72 track download which got a lot of online interest and had around 50,000 downloads within a month or two. I then put it out there that i would press this up as a 6CD boxset if enough people were interested and depending on intital pre-orders would depend on the price i charged (more pre-orders the cheaper it would be) to the point i charged £16 including p&p for a 6CD boxset and broke even immediately. That's with no promotion charges, no press that i actively looked for so really the net is a lifeline for all labels if only they took the blinkers off and stopped listening to whining artists and corrupt CEO's.

    Generations change for sure and the up and coming one will in no way spend as much as the last on music now with so much other entertainment out there so it's upto labels and musicians to provide them with a engaging product that they want to consume.

    It's a tough time but challenging too as there really are not very many rules right now which has been the case for the last 10 years and is liberating and should be seen as such.

    Give away more music and download music for free and then support those who you relate to and wish to support. It's the only business model left now for the ailing industry as we know it.

    The fact of all of this is that once you create something and share it even with close friends it's out there and will be ripped and burnt and shared no matter what measures you take.

    I think we should demand more from most musicians, i think those who give the most in all forms of digital creation will be the ones who will generally prosper in the future.

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