Industry Opinion: Was Trent Reznor Right To Go Back To A Major?

What do you think? Meanwhile, we discuss a new opportunity to make money from your music and talk about shooting live music videos on smartphones.

Ultimate Guitar

How would you like to make a few extra dollars with your music?

We all know that selling music is a tough business, but you don't have to just follow the formula of putting together an EP or album and sticking it on iTunes. Music publishers are actively looking for tracks to use in movies, TV shows and websites, and you could be sitting on a goldmine of material waiting to be snapped up.

Now a new scheme by Soundcloud and Getty aims to make it easier than ever for people to find and buy rights to your music.

All you do is sign up at Getty with your Soundcloud login, and you can choose to put forward your music to Getty's archive. Depending on where the music is used, you can earn up to $1,500 for corporate use, down to $99 if a website wants it.

But wait! There could be a few problems to iron out first.

If your music is really good enough to be picked up for corporate use, maybe you could do better than getting $1,500. You also lose 100% of control over who gets to use your music, so if you disagree with a company but they license your track, you can't do a think about it.

It might not work for companies searching for music either. There's quite a mix of both good and bad music on Soundcloud, and businesses might get sick of sifting through the rubbish before finding the good stuff. If few companies bother searching for tracks, how will you ever get paid?

Still, it's a really smart and modern solution for both musicians and publishers, so maybe it'll do well after some refinement.

Have you ever wished there was an easy way to make a live music video with your phone?

One solution might be an app called Vyclone. It can stitch together live video from several phones at once to automatically cut a multi-angle video in a snap.

All you do is get some friends together and start shooting in the app at the same time. You don't even have to be friends - a group of music fans at a gig could use Vyclone independently, but it knows you're all nearby and should pull the footage into one video anyway. It works great too - there's something about multi-angle footage that makes even low-grade video look twice as professional.

Vyclone has been out a while, but guitiarist Ed Sheeran is about to crowdsource his next video from a tonne of fans using Vyclone a gig soon. Fans will have a sense of ownership over the video and tell their friends, and then fans can go on to remix their own versions of the video if they're feeling creative.

Finally, let's talk Trent Reznor. He recently gave up on his crusade to release his music independently, and signed back to a major. So why the shift after such a successful run of releases?

It seems Reznor missed having the better exposure which comes with a major label marketing machine.

"We were playing [Prague in 2009], but I see flyers up for Radiohead, who's playing the same place we're playing, six months from then. Then I walk into the record shop, and there isn't a section that says Nine Inch Nails."

He says that it'll be worth giving away some of his profits to a label for the long-term benefits of their marketing, despite making millions from his independent releases.

I have to agree - it's easy to slam record labels for being 'evil' but they're well-oiled machines that can achieve great things. If you're a respected artist like Trent Reznor, maybe a major label is a good place to be.

It's time to open the debate to UG readers:

  • Would you license your music for corporate use using Soundcloud?

  • Can a decent music video be shot on a smartphone?

  • Was Trent Reznor right to go back to a major label?

    Let us know your views in the comments, and UG staff will be on hand to answer any questions you raise.

    By Tom Davenport (Twitter)

  • 46 comments sorted by best / new / date

      No. No. He can do what he wants, he's Trent Reznor.
      Whenever I look at your profile pic, I can't help but think something like "One does not simply Soundcloud into Mordor."
      Trent is Frodo and just rentering the major industry to destroy it from the inside out.
      I was hoping he would go to a C# Minor instead of A Major...
      I actually thought this article was going to be about his choice of scale...
      Same Here. Stop Capitalizing Every Single Word. It Is Annoying.
      Trent's absolutely right. As he's experienced bad major label deals before he knew what he's getting into and probably negotiated himself an artistically satisfactory deal this time.
      Misleading title...thought he just hadn't written songs in A Major for a while...
      Of course he was right. He's Trent Reznor, he's been making amazing music for almost 25 years. He can do whatever he wants and if he wants to keep making money, so be it.
      1. No I would not license via soundcloud, I would hate for a corporation/organization that I am morally opposed to to use my music. To me, that's the epitome of selling out. 2. With almost all new cell phones having cameras of 8+ MP and the innovativeness of app developers, I'm sure it can be done. 3. Trent is a smart guy and knows the industry pretty damn well by now. I'm sure the decision he made will have the fans being the major benefactor in the long run.
      1. Only if I could pick and choose who would use my music 2. The director counts more than the gear, like the musician counts more than the instrument. Music videos aren't a high budget feature film, so go ahead. 3. Reznor has proven himself time and time again to maintain his integrity no matter who he's working for. He can do what he wants.
      Definitely misread that title and thought this was an article about reznor changing what key he's playing his music in...
      you can't do a think about it. can't do a think about it. do a think about it. do a think. think.
      It's already been established UG has terrible grammar.
      Oops! That's supposed to be a 'thing', so I guess you've confused the words 'spelling' and 'grammar'
      Danjo's Guitar
      Sure I'd license my music, but I can't imagine anyone using it. No, smartphones are not cameras, so stop thinking they are and buy a real camcorder or camera. And there is no "right" or "wrong" unless he ends up getting screwed and is unhappy about going back.
      I can't believe UG is trying to make a deal out of this... We're talking about Trent ****ing Reznor here. He's one of the best in the business at utilizing the industry without letting it control him as an artist. Seriously, signing to major labels =/= selling out.
      Trent is one of the most savvy and intelligent men in the business. This deal probably got looked over 200+ times by Trent, the band, and his lawyers to maintain the amount of integrity and control Trent wants his band to upkeep. After years of legal battles over BS that labels have pulled on him, you have to know that this contract is solid for him to even consider it. Super excited for the new HTDA material.
      Trent's been back great music for 23 years, I think he has the right to do whatever he wants. Plus I'd imagine his ulterior motive is getting HDTA off the ground.
      Trent being with a major label will probably free up his time a bit more too... And the whole industry knows not to mess with him by now, so he shouldn't have any issues!
      When you are a true rock star, you can do whatever the hell he wants with your music and people will be okay with it. It's impossible to simplify that any further. Trent Reznor is a great musician. He is what made me a fan of industrial-rock. He simply wants exposure so fans can hear him. Half of the fun of music is performing to others.
      "When you are a true rock star, you can do whatever the hell he wants" If you're a rock star you're free to do what Trent Reznor wants you to do?
      I changed everything from specifically Trent Reznor to rockstars as an occupation... ...well, almost everything...
      Probably not with my current music, no. Yes, FreddieW did an incredible video with a Galaxy S3. It's his decision and is therefore correct
      They talk about it as if it's something phenomenal, audio-stocking has been around for YEARS and people have been doing it for some time already. Whoever is interested, just google "audio stock". You'll get of a perspective on the matter of selling music and rights to to use music online.
      Ya know Trent, Radiohead doesn't have a label. You shouldn't have stressed out about that because hipsters turned Radiohead into the modern day Beatles.
      radiohead is on an independent label. only the digit release of in rainbows was completely put out by them
      Reznor releasing released things independently due to frustration with labels. Now that hes prooved to be a powerhouse in that matter he can go back to label and basically regain complete creative control or he will reinact the lyrics of "Closer" with music labels.
      When he signs he also gets all his publishing rights, total control of his music, and his own sub label, so really the record company only gets to distribute it. Any new band would be lucky to break even with a record contract.
      Who cares if he's right or wrong?? It's his music and his choice who he goes through!
      1) I would vote "yes" if it made me money and I kept the rights to my songs. Because I play Death Metal, so why would I care? It'd help me a THOUSAND times more than whoever I'm giving my music to. 2) Smartphones are horrible, and I hope that people learn to use them as frisbees and paper weights, because that's all they're good for. Shoot your music video on a real camera. And better yet? Use real film too, it looks better. 3) I don't like Trent Reznor's music, and I generally think it already is major label material. I'm not going to pretend like Trent isn't in it for the money. So yes, since his music is just a cash cow, it makes sense for him to want more. On the other hand, if it were someone like Buckethead, who has been able to support his life through touring, I would say no because Buckethead doesn't need some executive telling him what to do.
      Use real film too, it looks better.
      While I agree with you that film looks better than digital, you have to remember it costs way more money to order stock from Kodak vs shooting on a digital camera. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you're shooting on 16 or 35mm cameras, so when something does go wrong you fork over the cash to fix it by buying more stock or you end up getting screwed because your budget can't support it. There's nothing wrong with digital if you know how to use it right, plenty of people are shooting on Red. To me the quality that Red can deliver is far beyond spectacular, have a look for yourself
      1. Yes, but only the ones that I don't plan to use on my album 2. I am actually planning to do one. However, the smartphone cameras are yet to be in that level for EVERY video to be shot with them 3. Its his career so he gets to decide what to do.