Why Giving Away Free (or Cheap) Music Works

Last week, Nine Inch Nails released a new album.  This album was released digitally and all you had to do to be able to download it was goto http://theslip.nin.com/ and enter your email address.  Doing this, will result in a download link arriving in your email box.  Click the link takes you to a page where you can chose high quality Mp3 files, FLAC flies, Apple Lossless, and even the original WAV files.  All for free.  I have yet to listen to this latest offering from Nine Inch Nails, known as The Slip but I was sick most of last week and will get around to it this week.

This is the second album that Nine Inch Nails has released in 2 months (the first Ghosts costs $5 for a digital download).  Sure, you have to give them your email address which no doubt puts you on some kind of mailing list.  But for free music, I really don’t mind. 

What does any of this have to do with the title of this post? I’m glad you asked.  You see, I don’t really like Nine Inch Nails musically.  Why?  I’ve never really been the “mad at the world” type.  Stuff happens, I deal, and move on as best as possible.  I’m not saying that Trent Reznor is not talented, in fact I think quite the contrary and find him to be an incredibly talented musician.  I just don’t like his music.  And a person does not have to like everything.  Also, there are a couple of NIN songs that I do like but most of them are the singles (“Hand that Feeds” and “Head Like a Hole” for example).

Did I sign up and download this latest effort though?  You betcha.  I’ll listen to almost anything once.  And I will especially listen to anything at least once that didn’t cost me any money to hear it in the first place.  Sure, I could have probably found the album via BitTorrent sites and not had to sign up for the mailing list, but I’d rather get the free music directly from the person providing it.  So Nine Inch Nails got one more person (someone who doesn’t normally listen to their music) to download and listen to their new album.  All because it was free.

For the record, I also bought Ghosts I-IV because it was five dollars for full lossless files.  That’s a hard deal to turn down.  Also, I did it because I want to prove that distribution methods like that can work.  Also to help prove that if you offer cheap or free music, there will be people to download and promote it.  But think about these facts:

  • I don’t really care too much for Nine Inch Nails musically (even though I think Mr. Reznor has talent).
  • I paid $5 dollars for a NIN album because it was $5 dollars which is darn cheap for 36 tracks in complete lossless format.
  • Finally, I downloaded a free album provided by Nine Inch Nails
  • Nine Inch Nails made a sale off of someone not really into their music too much and got another another set of ears to listen to 2 of their albums because they offered cheap and free music.
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