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Trent Reznor/Saul Williams 'Get It'


Passion

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Most of you know the story of how Radiohead, one of the biggest bands going at the moment, offered up their newest album for any ammount of money and even absolutely free if you felt that is what it was worth. You went through a slightly confusing/haphazard sign-up process and were awarded a download link when the album was available digitally. The download were 160 kbps MP3 files encoded with a sub-par encoding tool. Noticeably less than CD quality. The download also contained no album art, other disc information, playlist files, or cue sheets.

 

Saul Williams, open mic poet/rapper/socially and politically motivated artist, has released 2 full length albums both of which were met with degrees of critical acclaim. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, his third album (produced by Trent Reznor) it was announced would not be released physically but it would be self-released digitally for free and for pay. I was happy to see another artist go this route, one that had the backing of Reznor, but was predicting a download much like Radiohead's effort of offering low quality MP3s for free but then marking up the price of their physical release of the album.

 

The similarities between Williams' The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! and Radiohead's In Rainbows end at them both being self-released. Williams and Reznor would give you a choice of how you want the album. It would be available totally free as 192 kbps MP3s that were encoded with the best codec on the market today: LAME 3.97.

 

For those that wanted to pay (just $5), you had your choice of the same 192 kbps MP3, 320 kbps MP3 (highest possible bitrate for lossy media), and in FLAC format. FLAC is lossless and is the exact same quality as a CD would be but with a smaller file size. FLAC can also be encoded to MP3 without transcoding and for use with a MP3 player. Those that pay would also recieve album art, a large PDF with artwork and lyrics, a cue sheet (used to burn the album to disc and keeping the appropriate gaps), and a playlist file.

 

But why should anyone dish out money for the extra quality when they don't know what it will sound like? Well prior to release, a large sample was available for download for you to hear. Along with the 192 kbps MP3s that are free for anyone.

 

I'm totally for this self-releasing in every way possible, as long as it is done properly like Reznor and Williams have done. Not secretively and poorly like Radiohead did it. I'm not a huge fan of Williams (nor do I agree with his politics) although I think he is talented and liked his 2004 album. Even not as a big fan, I will pay $5 everyday of the week to support artists. Cutting out the middle man and not lining the pockets of RIAA controlled record executives.

 

This morning, the albums release date, I was greeted by a download link in my e-mail which I was promised. I followed the link to get to a download link that confirmed I was getting my FLAC album. I was and I had no other hoops to go through. No log-in information, nothing but adownload link that took full advantage of my bandwidth and was exactly as promised.

 

Reznor understands the music industry and his own fans better than anyone in music today. Radiohead may have pioneered self-releasing an album digitally for free and for pay but Reznor and Williams have perfected it. I hope they inspire other artists to go this route and to do it properly and not secretively.

 

Thank you Trent and Saul. You 'get it'.

 

http://www.nin.com

 

http://www.niggytardust.com

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I don't know how many of you saw this, but Reznor admitted to being a member of OiNK this past week:

 

What do you think about OiNK being shut down?

Trent: I'll admit I had an account there and frequented it quite often. At the end of the day, what made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store. Pretty much anything you could ever imagine, it was there, and it was there in the format you wanted. If OiNK cost anything, I would certainly have paid, but there isn't the equivalent of that in the retail space right now. iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc. Amazon has potential, but none of them get around the issue of pre-release leaks. And that's what's such a difficult puzzle at the moment. If your favorite band in the world has a leaked record out, do you listen to it or do you not listen to it? People on those boards, they're grateful for the person that uploaded it ? they're the hero. They're not stealing it because they're going to make money off of it; they're stealing it because they love the band. I'm not saying that I think OiNK is morally correct, but I do know that it existed because it filled a void of what people want.

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2007/...l_williams.html

 

So. Awesome.

 

He also paid 5K for the Radiohead album because it was going straight to them.

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Its good to hear Trent doesnt think Oink was morally correct. Thanks for posting that.

 

 

What he says about ITunes has its truths. But he's tired of "John Mayer's face"??? Huh? Trents' face was plastered all over ITunes for his last TWO releases.

 

ITunes has a LONG way to go. Their catalogue is really thin and their quality (as Fox has mentioned) is inferior (although I doubt the common consumer hears the big divide in terms of quality).

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Its good to hear Trent doesnt think Oink was morally correct. Thanks for posting that.

 

 

What he says about ITunes has its truths. But he's tired of "John Mayer's face"??? Huh? Trents' face was plastered all over ITunes for his last TWO releases.

 

ITunes has a LONG way to go. Their catalogue is really thin and their quality (as Fox has mentioned) is inferior (although I doubt the common consumer hears the big divide in terms of quality).

What Trent wants and what Interscope wanted/did are very different.

 

I thought the iTunes comparison to Sam Goody was laughably correct.

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I'm glad artists are going this route.

 

I think its a great idea for established artist like Saul Williams and Radiohead to do such a thing, they have the capability and the force to push the idea and get it to people, but I think it would work the other way around for lesser known acts who depend on the marketing and backup of record labels to get their product accross.

 

I think its a double edge sword for the artist while a great way to get moderately priced (if not free) music for the people.

 

either way i'm all up for it

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I love Saul Williams. This is one of my favorite 'rap' songs to come out this decade.

 

 

 

Speaking of Trent Reznor, I went though a 'Trent Reznor is a music god' stage like a lot of people, but kind of soured on NiN after With Teeth came out. Was way too mainstream and angst sounding for a multi millionaire aging rock star IMO, but was really quite surprised by Year Zero when I finally bought it just a month or so ago.

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I don't think an artist makes 5 dollars for each CD sold. No way.

 

 

 

Yeah its not even close to that.

 

 

Lets use a four piece band for example. Each band member makes approximately 4.5 % of the ENTIRE PIE.

 

 

After the label pays for recording/mastering costs, hiring a producer, photography, video (a cheap video costs about $150,000), a manager and distribution and promotion fees, there isnt much left.

 

And thats not even getting into attorney fees.

 

 

 

I would put it closer to $1 a CD

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