Trent Reznor Speaks on Value of Music: 'It Costs 10 Bucks, or Go F--k Yourself'

Nine Inch Nails frontman shares his opinion on today's state of music industry.

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Nine Inch Nails mastermind shared his opinion on the current state of music industry.

As Consequence of Sound notes, it's a debate that's raged for years now, and will no doubt continue for the foreseeable future, especially as Thom Yorke declares war against Spotify, Pink Floyd against Pandora, and acts such as Jay Z and Lady Gaga invent new ways to distribute their music, leaving Billboard.

Trent Reznor, having released his 2008 album, "The Slip," for free online, has been catching some slack for his decision to release the band's new album, "Hesitation Marks," on a major label, Columbia, to which he previously replied, "I never signed up to say: 'Hey, I'm the spokesperson for that sort of thing.'"

In a new interview with SPIN, Reznor once again addressed major labeldom and, more specifically, what he perceives the value of his music to be:

"Nine Inch Nails feels bigger than it ever has ... Is it because we're on Columbia? Is it scarcity? I don't know, but it doesn't feel bigger in the sense that we've desperately adopted some new clothing style. It feels organic, and it feels good not to be worrying about whether or not we shipped vinyl to the cool record store in Prague.

"I know that what we're doing flies in the face of the Kickstarter Amanda-Palmer-Start-a-Revolution thing, which is fine for her, but I'm not super-comfortable with the idea of Ziggy Stardust shaking his cup for scraps. I'm not saying offering things for free or pay-what-you-can is wrong. I'm saying my personal feeling is that my album's not a dime. It's not a buck. I made it as well as I could, and it costs 10 bucks, or go f--k yourself."

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section.


134 comments sorted by best / new / date

    He's right for NIN , their show , their deal , buy it or leave it , you don't walk into a store and argue the price of a Pepsi .
    But 1.30 for a Pepsi is ****ing ridiculous
    Atleast the price of Pepsi is worth it
    Getting fat and hurting your body over en-lighting you mind, smart man here.
    Haha really? don't take it so personal dude. Just my opinion. But speakin' of health, Yes, I would rather drink booze, smoke and have fun than buy a record. If I could afford to, I'd do both.
    I support this in every way! I do not listen to NIN, however I buy my music! Because I am an artist too and it is a lot of ****ing work. Buy it or **** yourself - that's a great sentence!
    If you don't have $10 to spend on an album I think you better check your priorities. If I didn't have $10 I certainly would be thinking about something other than the price of music. Like being able to feed and clothe myself.
    Agreed on this. If you can't afford it, don't buy it, find a cheaper album.
    Fuck your logic, I'll download and benefit no other than myself. I'm feeling american today.
    And people can seriously ask why America is ****ed? It's because of this type of attitude.
    He's right, I've heard so many people whine about buying CD's and that "pirating is easier, because then I can't afford to go to their shows or buy their t-shirts". A CD is probably the cheapest piece of merchandise available, excuses are nonsense.
    Yes, but if they pirate tons of CDs, then they feel like they're justified. Apparently, music is "supposed to be free" to them at least. It just a lame excuse to justify not spending $5-15 on a CD. In a perfect society, music should be free. But the world is pretty far from any sense of perfection.
    You might not realise, but making albums costs money. And if you don't have the money you can't make the next record. The musician is at the bottom of the pyramid where his/her own music is concerned like you they still have to pay bills and our taxes. What you have to remember is that the charts is dominated by artists who aren't artists at all they're polished up vapid images. But what's worse is that the 1D, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus fans are ready and willing to go down to the stores and buy their albums. They're getting the support they need and they don't really have to do a lot for it.
    no music shouldn't be "free", it should be less expensive. small minded people (americans) tend to think 5$-15$ is an OK figure to spend on music or whatever, but there are people from poor countries who get charged double or triple the original price in the states. PS: also the exchange rates applied in this "cultural" businesses are retarded. 10$ = 8.5 (+/, but if you go and buy the album at lets say FNAC (it's a huge european "franchise" that sells a lot of stuff, computers, TVs, books, music, merch, games, etc) you'll be charged for 15/20 that's like 20$/35$...
    It's the equivalent of 20 bucks over here :/
    The new Dream Theater album: $26,54 (standard) $29,20 (ltd edition) plus $3,92 postage in Finland. Sure you can probably find it for $10 after a year or two.
    Jacques Nel
    In South Africa Linkin Park Hybrid Theory is selling for R250, which is about $25. Nirvana Nevermind is about R280 which comes to $28. These albums are old as F*ck.
    Besides that you can't find any good albums in South Africa anyway! When was the last time you walked into musica and found a decent album at a decent price that didn't set you back half your petrol money.
    Jacques Nel
    Look and Listen usually has all the albums Musica doesn't stock. Musica just stock Pop crap. But music is heavy expensive here. Not everyone can afford to purchase an album, I'm not saying steal music, just that the prices are very high. And I'm not wasting money on sh!t albums.
    The worst part is the metal section at look and listen shops in South Africa. R300 or more for one frikking album... Seesh. But again, the shops are trying to make profits. I rather go to cd shops like Micogram, they price the albums fairly.
    m4ss3 m/
    Wow, I got my Hybrid Theory for 10 last year here in Finland.
    10 euros are 100 quetzales, my local currency. I can have a dinner and a lunch, or I can purchase a cd. How can one that barely makes ends meet purchase "luxuries" such as art?
    Can you use eBay there? What kind of shipping costs do they hit you with? (It's $1 USD plus shipping, for the record)
    And this tells you it's ok to steal it? So a luxury like Whiskey, if you can't afford it, is ok to steal? For great whiskey it is arguably an art form, so let's all go and raid the local liquor store because, I mean, we're entitled to it, right? "Go FQUCK yourself" - Trent Reznor
    Why don't you go 'fquck' yourself? Pirating is making a copy, in no way is it stealing. Even though it is illegal and unethical, it is in no way violent or even theft, like what you're comparing it to
    I think if you're broke you should still get to listen to it, but don't forget these guys when you do have money.
    Um Jacques where the hell do you shop!? I am South African 2 and if you go to Musica or look n Listen right now, you can pick up Nevermind or Hyprid for under R100. So dont talk kak bru!!
    Jacques Nel
    Well at look and listen JUST LAST MONTH sir I found Nevermind with a R280 price tag. And both of Linkin Park's first 2 albums (HT and Meteora) are still over R200 there. But that's in Port Elizabeth. I can't speak for wherever you're living.
    Simply put you appreciate it more if you have to pay for it. Few years ago I was using limewire (silly I know I was young) out of all the hundreds of songs i downloaded from it I only listen to a few (and that's only when I'm in the mood) After I started buying albums I appreciated the music more and the musicians behind it.
    Agreed. When I used to torrent music, it became so disposable. If something didn't grab me at first or second listen, it went straight to the trash can on the computer. When you buy an album, you invest some faith into the record you purchased, and you're more likely to spend the time it deserves with it in order to find things to appreciate. I find plenty of CD's and albums on my wall to this day that I pull out and listen to... Couldn't tell you what I've got in my iTunes or hard drive though.
    Nah man, appreciation is subjective. I love every song on my PC, but I'll damned if I have to pay twice or thrice the actual price of 'em.
    Jacques Nel
    Personally I like listening to an album before I buy it, because in so many cases I've been disappointed about some stuff bands bring out nowadays, but rest assured when I like an album I buy it. I only stock up on my absolute favorites.
    Rest assured Reznor gave you plenty options to listen to his album before you buy it. There are various streams right now, week before the release date, where you can listen to the new album. Also, few days back, when stream was working only for US but the album was already leaked, Trent tweeted to "be resourceful" to the other parts of the world. So I can't really know what those whiny bitches here talking about. Trent Reznor is one the most generous people to his fans I can think of but people here telling him to go **** yourself, just because he's giving them absolutely fair price for his work.. that's just stupid.
    Jacques Nel
    Regarding him saying "Be resourceful", don't get me wrong, on the net you can get ANY album easy as pie for free. I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying if you can't find it, you're not looking.
    yeah you can, but it's a bit different when main member of the band essentially tell you "hey, we can't stream this new album to you right now, if you want to hear it, download it somewhere else"
    Just buy the ****ing record and support the artist you're listening to. Too many people nowadays feel fine listening to the music, but too entitled to actually pay for it. How can you support an artist without helping fuel their career? Because last time I checked, Torrent downloads and Spotify streams aren't putting the food on anybody's table and supporting the album and tour... If you can't throw the artist a couple of dollars towards something they poured their entire heart into, you can't call yourself a fan. /endrecordstoreemployeerant
    Its because there is some misconception that every penny goes to some guy in a suit who just sits around and does nothing. While people seem to forget all the people that puts real effort into creating an album like this, hardworking people that needs to get paid.
    Another thing people fail to consider is the question of who supports these artists when they go out on tours? The label. While the bulk of the money from album sales may not go directly to the artist themselves, it goes back into their support system. Now, in 2013, there are a million other factors that goes into the profitability of an artist, like ticket sales, merchandise sales, etc. But every penny counts. To me, the fact that some people feel like they don't have to pay for the product an artist puts out is insane. Everybody of course says "Oh, if I like it, I'll go out and buy it" but yearly album sales show otherwise...
    The whole DIY thing with punk bands in the 80's and 90's prove that if you wanna put out a good record, you'll do it. Fuck the food chain, **** the business. Get a real job and grind with the rest of us.
    The music business should be a real job, because it can be. Sound engineers, artists, session musicians, marketing people and so forth, they all deserve to get paid. Personally i make games for a living, which is hard (but fun) work i dont really think making music is much different, it might actually be even worse because you have to work your ass off to get anywhere.
    I think torrenting is completely okay to listen to see if you like the band and then if you like the band you can buy the CD when you can afford to. That's how I discovered many bands. Otherwise without torrenting I would be stuck with what the radio plays and what shows up in my YouTube suggestions.
    This is the happiest of mediums for people who listen to music beyond the radio. Those who listen to radio for their new music look at it as a given. Those who seek out new music via torrenting, getting there early for the opener or simply listening to their friends suggestions are the people who I hope will one day stand up and say this exact thing. "I will give you a shot for free, impress me and I will give you my money"
    This sounds very reasonable, i always buy my albums, mainly because i enjoy them and stuff you enjoy are usually worth paying for. I could use the ten bucks to buy food on McDonalds, but it really isn't as satisfying as an album that lasts your entire life.
    Wow! I'd love to move to a country where an album goes for the price of a Big Mac.
    You don't have to buy it right away, the price drops after a while. But if you buy a big mac, fries and soda you're nearing 17$ price tag a new cd costs on play
    Jacques Nel
    Dude if our albums were the price of a Big Mac I would have had a room full of albums right now. Alas all I have is a lot of weight to lose... Edit: You should import your meals from me. Here that same meal goes for R40 which is $4. Ha ha
    Do the fans think it's worth spending $10 on?
    the new album? Not really to be honest. I just downloaded it for free. But I got tickets to see NIN later this year and will probably buy a couple of shirts at the venue, so I don't feel as bad. If I really liked the album I would've probably picked up a CD, but alas I was underwhelmed this time.around
    I can't wrap my head around this argument. So your leaving a liquor store, the clerk says, "Hey, you didn't pay for that bottle of Vodka!" and you respond, "hey man, I bought some coasters off them online and have a poster, so I don't have to pay for this because I supported them in other ways"!?!?!?! Do you really fqcking believe that shit? Common man, at least put some effort in to your bullshyt argument.
    Except when you live in New Zealand or Australia and it's $20-30. I'm sorry, but that is rip. So I try to download them illegally and when I have 6 or so CD's I want I order them from online from the States (so the shipping is justified). Add 20% for exchange rate nd I can by my 6 CD's for $80 instead of $180
    Or pirate the crap out of it. Dont condone it but its a better option than f--king oneself..
    or buy it and show some ****ing support
    Unfortunately, I doubt there is even one, maybe two people on the entire UG that have never downloaded illegally. We are all guilty in taking money from hard-earning musicians. What would happen, for example, if some guy stole an architects work? A Sh!tstorm I bet. Digital hoarding has become an accepted habit imo. IF the mentality doesn't change musicians will suffer. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY!
    He's totally right. I mean, it's ten bucks... Get out of your entitled state of mind and pay for something you want... it's very simple. If no than Trent said it best... "go fqck yourself"
    "Steal it. Steal away. Steal, steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealing." -Trent Reznor
    He said that because his label at the time was price gouging fans. This album, if it's only 10 bucks, is being sold for a fair price.
    I have to pay over 25 bucks for a cd where I live. So **** supporting labels and shipping enterprises. 10 bucks in the states doesn't mean 10 bucks around the world.
    Than move to the states or pay $25... again, pretty fqcking simple. Why the FqCK do people think that they should be able to get things for free? Does Sony let you try a DVD player before you buy it? Does a car dealer give you a car for 3 months to "try" it before you buy it? Does college give you a free year to decide if you like it? Nothing in life is free and this "I want to listen to it before I buy it" is a bullshyt cover for people not wanting to pay their way.
    Let's use me as an example, I just checked my iTunes, and I have over 1000 albums. Do you mean to tell me that it is worth $10,000 just to have a good collection of music? I don't know how much money you have, but that's a rip, especially because music is entrainment. That's like 4 years of food for me. I could never in my life justify paying that much for 45 minutes of music. I pay less than ten to go to a movie, which has undoubtedly had more money, time, and personnel making it, and it's twice as long. I hate the music industry and how it treats the artists, therefore I don't support it, and I love it when people do things independently. All that being said, I support the hell out of boutique labels, where the money doesn't just go in some business executive's pocket. Hydra Head, Neurot, Constellation, I'll gladly pay for those records
    digital downloads are 10$ think thats what he meant, sincce you download it anyways just pay 10$ for the actual work put into.
    Its on iTunes pre-order for $15...
    I wouldnt buy an album of any kind unless its got at least 12 songs. Length of the songs can compensate for quantity, but at least get the value of each song when buying. 30 dollars? no thanks.
    he was mad about the record label trying to charge more for the special thermally reactive coating on the Year Zero CD.
    I don't know why this is getting downvoted, it's exactly what happened: He paid out of his own pocket (83 cents per album) to get a special cover for the Year Zero album, and then in Australia record stores used that cover as an excuse to charge $30-$40 per album. But we're used to it here, what with companies charging more here for exactly the same digital downloads the rest of the world gets, even when Australia's dollar was stronger than the US (for years). Itunes albums that are $15US are $25AUD. Microsoft Office $400US or $600AUD Source:
    Vicryl 2.0
    at somepoint you have tried masturbation.. if i get a NIN cd everytime i masturbate. that would be cool
    If I buy your album and share it with my friends it is still $10? Or is it $10 per person? What if my mum's in the kitchen and she kind of heard part of it; does that cost extra?
    my thinking is... I set aside money to pay for music/band merch, I can't afford any more, so does it make that much of a difference if I pirate the CD so that I can afford the T shirt or gig tickets? And what is the music industry's solution to the fact that more albums are being released than most of us can afford? I buy hard copies of my favourite albums, but that's about it.. I'd rather pay for hard goods or an experience rather than an electronic download which I can easily get for free..
    buying tickets and band merch is what you can do best, that's where bands get the most of their "untouched" revenue.
    You can also buy the fqcking album... How much their "worth" is intrinsically tied to how many records they sell and that effects how much they make in a massive way. And this anti-corporate ethic is becoming tiring, do you not drink soda or beer because they are all "greedy corporations" ripping you off? Why do you go to work everyday? To make friends? NO! To make money. We're all in the same boat, no one does anything for free, nor should they.
    So you'd rather spend your money on albums than gig tickets? each to their own. But with a limited amount of money available, I'd rather go to gigs. Its not an anti-corporate ethic, its a realistic view on personal finance. I give myself a budget for music each year, I'm not gonna go over it, so tbh the artists arent losing out, I'm just saying that its better to spend the money on something that you couldn't have otherwise, and also seems to give the bands more untouched revenue.
    I prefer albums over gigs, it lasts longer. Not that i dont enjoy live shows, its an awesome experience, but ill take the album any day, i listen to musicians because they write cool music, not because they are good performers on a stage. But thats just me.
    exactly, I just feel that with all the pirating going on, the charts companies should start to recognise this, so that bands can still count their sales & get their gold records etc. And it means that too many albums miss their #1 in the charts (and hence the extra recognition the band gets) because they come from a genre more prone to pirating because of whatever reason.
    I'm not a huge fan of his new songs... not a huge fan of his new business plan... he's not the trent he used to be. i guess thats fine but... eh.
    I hate articles like this. So many people flip-flop their views depending on whoever said music should be paid for. I remember some article a while ago about someone (to be completely honest, I forget who) saying that piracy was affecting their income, and the consensus was "oh well, you got signed and made money and you're already rich, losing $10 off of this new album won't affect you!" but as soon as Trent Reznor says you need to pay for your music it's supported so strongly. Your views should be your OWN views, they should not be swayed so easily by reading an article from someone you do/don't want to personally support, and judging by how drastically the general opinion here sways, I'm not sure many people do actually hold these views, and instead just parrot the opinion of whoever they like because they like that person (like this article, Trent says piracy is bad, comments agree, but if there's an article about how piracy led to some band getting signed, the general view would be "yeah, piracy is great, it lets me find so many more bands and the ones I like I buy their album"). You still pirated music, and those whose albums you didn't buy (if you actually did even buy the ones you liked) still don't have food on the table, they're still missing out on revenue that could be used to keep the industry alive. You can't have it both ways just because Trent Reznor said to pay for his own album.
    Funnily enough, I think it was Dave Mustaine that complained about piracy. Alas, he's correct about it affecting his income. Imagine you own a business and all of a sudden people abuse new technology that cuts your profit margin in half within less than one working year.
    So what if people steal music. Times have changed and that is now an option. Bands need to adapt to the times, come to terms with the fact that it takes money to make money. i.e. your band makes an album for 500 000$ consider that your promotion costs. Now you have your product out there with 20x the audience you would have if you just sold some form of the work. More ears hearing the tunes puts more bums in the seats at your next show.
    $10 is much more valuable to someone who barely makes 5 figures a year than someone who makes nearly 7. Maybe Trent should spend a day in my life.
    Rich people dont deserve to get paid for their efforts.
    Rich people tend to be oblivious of the struggle the average worker has to crawl in and out for a measly pay.
    That my well be, but if they produce something and choose to sell it, it costs money and people should accept that. It doesnt matter how rich a person is, if he works hard to put something out there, he deserves to get paid or at the very least all the people that helped produce it.
    I'm a full time college student, work part time. And during the summer I work 40 hours a week. I work my f-cking a$$ off at life, just like a lot of Americans. I don't think Trent Reznor works harder than I do. He's joined an industry that pays really well if people like what you're doing. That doesn't mean he works harder than a college kid like me, though.
    I am near homeless broke and work 50 hours a week, was on the street at 21 do to my family dying and put myself through college WHILE BUYING ALL THE MUSIC I WANTED! Bullshyt argument is bullshyt!!!
    Yeah, but you REALLY don't know that, Gibson0516, do you? You're assuming that. But you can't say for sure.
    if it was 10 dollars, that'd be great. if that ten dollars went to the musicians, producers, engineers, etc.... that'd be great. if it was worth the ten dolars, that'd be even better. but, usually, it's well over 20 dollars, and a nickel or two of that ends up in the hands of the artist. and, well...there is some real great music being made, so, i'll shut up.
    Trent, why?! Why he's decided to once again involve a middle-man that he doesn't need and that is only going to cost either himself or the fans (more likely the fans) money is beyond me. I don't think he quite understands crowdfunding, either. That's not shaking your cup for scraps, that's saying "Hey guys, you want this record? I need X amount of money. If I don't get it, no new record." How is that any different than signing with a label and saying "Okay, I need a loan of X amount of money to make the record, which I'll then pay back with the sales"? Goddangit, Trent.
    Well **** you too. You don't get to embrace the indy distribution, and then flip back as it serbes you.
    I do not disagree with him. I just feel he is going backwards from a guy who was once very innovative and did not care as much about how "music got out there as long as it got out there".
    It cost 10 bucks of it's not a new release. And depending on where you buy it from.
    eh, if he's really that worried about it. he can send me a mailing address. I'll torrent his album, then send him 3 bucks. that's more than Columbia is gonna pay him. win-win. I get it significantly cheaper, he makes more money. and the person that should get paid gets paid. I'm not saying that record companies shouldn't make money off of their sponsors. its just when the companies only pay the artists 8-25% per song sold. its kinda bullshit. flip that on its head, and i'll go back to traditionally paying for music. Columbia is paying him anywhere between 80 cents and $2.50 per album sold. that is horseshit. that being said, i don't really like NIN, so not worth the effort typing in pirate bay to the url.
    Recently he was very positive about his record deal he said something about it being a collabaritve effort between around 18 people, which aupposedly was a lot different than in the old days. I don't think he's getting an unfair deal this time around, he's probably earning more than back in the day, it could be possible that things have changed since the 90s? His attitude certainly has.
    Someone should post that Youtube video of Neil Gaiman talking about copyrights and piracy. It would help out a lot of people here.
    screech n' moan
    Buying the deluxe edition in store on the 3rd. It's more than $10, but the regular edition is worth more than $10. He's been kind enough t ogive us 3 singles to listen to for free to judge the album off of, and live recordings of 2 more new songs on the album are on the internet, so if it's not worth the money from what you fairly heard for free, don't unfairly listen to the rest of it.
    or... pay for streaming services. I pay for spotify, and its like $8.5 a month.
    Fred Bob
    I downloaded 'Hesitation Marks' off itunes and its well worth the 10EUR I paid. Ok, I prefer having the physical CD but I find they take up room and once they are on the ipod I dont use them. Reznor became a champion of fighting the system of distribution a few years ago but obviously enjoyed the mainstream attention garnered from movie soundtracks and oscar's. Fair enough. NIN is established and known worldwide, is really an alias for Trent presenting it to the world. I dont particularly like the fact that he is happy with the world so now its 'buy it or f*** off' after much of the buzz about NIN in 00's was because of his stance on the labels and distributors. Surely he announced the profits from Ghosts, saying that the special edition easily made a profit after giving the lower quality away. The thing with Trent is the point where he is at, he has an established brand and a large distribution network through his label and website. The album should be sold where cost of production plus variable cost meets demand... the way music is sold is to completely maximise profit for the first few weeks and months. Then you see it on sale, something was valued at 15 EUR goes to 8 EUR and then maybe 5 EUR if you're lucky. That would be the model for a specific album as a product. I think NIN should sell this album for 2 months at 10 dollars, then drop the price after the demand drops. Of course the issue with music is that there are no boundaries to entry anymore, so there is a 'black market' where you are able to take it for free. This distorts the model I just outlined, which means the artist and label have to maximise profits from the outset and for as long as possible. The other variable to this is that music market, and entertainment in general is completely flooded, so it becomes worth-less. For instance people go on about Nirvana blasting away 80's cock rock etc, today they would be going up against reunion tours, the ability to download a playlist with 500 hundred new bands in minutes etc. What I am saying is I agree with say 10 dollars for a NIN album, when I download or buy say 50 albums from itunes, the price per album should drop the more I buy. The music loses monetary value the more I buy. I dont agree the personal value decreases but I dont think TRent or the labels care about that once I have paid for it ;o)