Trent Reznor Returns To A Major Label

After setting a template for innovative independent album releases, the electronic music master has gone back to a major. Is it the right decision?

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Trent Reznor might have made headlines for his innovative independent album release methods, but now he's signed to the major label Columbia for his next release.

A 6-track release for his project How To Destroy Angels with his wife Mariqueen Maandig and film score collaborator Atticus Ross (for movies like "The Social Network" and "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo") will be released on November 13, with a full-length album to follow next Spring.

But rather than sign a full 360 deal (where the label exploits every conceivable piece of output from an act), Reznor points out that the deal is instead a partnership, which is probably more flexible than a normal record deal and probably works in his favour.

"Regarding our decision to sign with Columbia, we've really spent a long time thinking about things and it makes sense for a lot of reasons, including a chance to work with our old friend Mark Williams," Reznor wrote on his Facebook. "There's a much more granular and rambling answer I could give (and likely will in an interview someplace) but it really comes down to us experimenting and trying new things to see what best serves our needs. Complete independent releasing has its great points but also comes with shortcomings."

It's an interesting move after he, along with Radiohead, set a new precedent for independent album releases, including giving his music away for free on torrent sites.

What do you think? Has he sold out, or is he winning by snatching up a record deal which probably works in his favour? Let us know in the comments.

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36 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Nobody plays the business better than Trent Reznor. He actually got to have his cake and eat it as well. All power to him.
    You're asking US if Trent Reznor is making the right decisions? If we knew more about the industry than Trent Reznor, I think we'd be busy elsewhere getting paper instead of commenting on articles.
    Trent has always put a lot of thought into how the fans will be able to consume the music and what is best for all the people involved. I have no doubt in my mind this is the right decision.
    Aww, just a 6 track release, oh well better than nothing. I highly enjoyed their first EP.
    I wonder if the 6-track release coming in November is the same six songs they put out previously. I hope not (not because they weren't good, but I really want to hear some new stuff).
    Same here, im really curious about this project so would be a shame to just rerelease the same material.
    My only (small) gripe with the first Ep was that it kinda felt like Trent Reznors voice would fit some of the songs better? Shes a good singer, but its just the way Reznor writes, in a lot of the songs i just end up imagening Reznors voice.
    I like Mariqueens voice, but you can hear Reznor-isms in all of the songs. Just little touches like the verse/first line of the chorus in A Drowning. It felt like she was just singing songs he'd fully written and recorded previously but never released. Hopefully the next EP will have more of her own input in it, but we all know what Reznor is like in the studio.
    Trent learned long ago when he was with TVT and then Interscope how major labels work. I'm fully supportive of his decision as I know that whatever the deal is he negotiated it to serve in his favor. He wouldn't go any route that would hurt his creativity or hurt his fans. Trent is one of the few great frontmen and musicians left that operates with true integrity.
    So now working with labels is considered "selling out"? Let him do whatever the **** he wants, he's earned that by now.
    I highly doubt the label would get in the way, even without Reznor saying this. If Columbia tries to change the music of an academy award winning duo (assuming HTDA will be released through them now), then they really are stupid.
    Trent Reznor has been making great music for over 20 years... he can kinda do whatever he wants. The "How to Destroy Angels" stuff is pretty good too.
    I don't really like NIN, but Reznor himself is a legend. Third eye up there is correct, he's shown that he cares about his fans more than most acts, he's earned some respect to do what he wants to do.
    Great move by Trent Reznor. Not only is his music captivating, but he's a really smart dude and I will always support any decision he makes.
    I've always enjoyed most things Reznor has done. I'm not a huge NIN fan but Reznor is a gleaming light when it comes to how to work the business and take care of his own & fans. Also helps that he's from PA
    I'm guessing it's a distribution deal rather than a full-blown record contract. Trent would still front the money to record the album but they'd use Columbia's distribution channels to sell it.
    record companies big- independent release record companies on their death bed- sign me up strange... strange but wise... idk how, but he obviously knows what hes doing
    Trent can do what he wants. Aslong as he's creating great music, who cares? Plus it's a bonus if he has the advantage over the label.
    I love how he said "probably" at least twice. Time will tell if it's a good deal for him.
    I have never enjoyed Reznor's music that much, nor the ego vibe I get from him in certain interviews, HOWEVER, the man knows how to use the music industry to it's fullest potential, and in this world of ever changing media and constant, up to the minute updates... He's got the perfect brain to exploit (in a positive way, at least) the system.
    I was hoping it'd be a new NIN album.
    Ahh, sorry, wanted to reply to you on my next comment, not with the previous one He mentioned in his Facebook post that he is working on new NIN stuff too, and previously he said that he is working on The Fragile deluxe edition mixed in 5.1 surround sound. It could've been perfect if he released it on the album's 10th anniversary, but the alignment of the planets wasn't there yet, as it seems.
    Makes perfect sense. He's literally starting a new band, a whole new project that isn't all that easy-listening and pop-ish to be an instant success, and driving it by just saying 'Hey, it's a new project by the leader of Nine Inch Nails' isn't enough. You gotta promote it vigorously, and major labels are good at that. You can't achieve the spread they can while staying independent, except if you're not some YouTube viral superstar.
    Trent Reznor is doing the same thing as Prince for his album 3121. You really want a major label distributing your music, but you don't really want them messing with your songs. This is a perfect partnership for music legends.
    He's a big man now in the industry (whether he's friendly with the industry or not). I don't think it'll be hard for him to get full artistic freedom with this signing, so might as well. As long as he keeps putting out great tunes.