Radiohead weren't the only people to take a stab at the "donate what you will" download deal. Trent Reznor has spent the last couple of years blasting the music industry and openly encouraging his fans to illegally download Nine Inch Nails tunes to fuck his label over. I always liked the guy and when he decided to collaborate with the awesome Saul Williams, I was stoked. Then Reznor added that the duo would drop the album ala In Rainbows. Now, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! is available with one version free to download and another of higher audio quality available for just 5 bucks (both versions include the album art and other accoutrement's).
Well apparently only 1 in 5 listeners felt that the album was worth the purchase price and Trent seems to be all hurt pussy over it saying, "I'm not sure what I was expecting but that percentage - primarily from fans - seems disheartening."
Whoa, whoa, whoa, there. I'm a Saul Williams fan and downloaded both versions available (paid for the high quality) and don't see too big of a difference between the two. And furthermore, I think that it was you, Mr. Reznor, who is to blame. Your production on this album was pretty weak. In the end it didn't sound like Saul Williams but a Nine Inch Nails album with some Williams' vocals (that seem eerily similar to Trent's own). And the album overall isn't that great compared to the artists previous work. His cover of "Sunday, Bloody, Sunday" is excellent, "Raised to Be Lowered" is just ferocious (and I get chills every time I hear the line, "To throw away the pen and pad/ and simply be the poem") and "Tr(n)igger" is one of the best hip-hop songs I've heard in a decade but overall it is the production that cripples it.
Mr. NIN does happen to see the good in this experiment noting, "But... Saul's music in in more people's iPods than ever before and people are interested in him." BOOM! That's what you should be giddy over: your ability to cheaply expose a brilliant artist while allowing him to profit more from his albums than ever before. So quit your crying. Oh and, did you stop to think for a second that most of the people who downloaded the disc just didn't dig it and therefore were not compelled to drop 5 dollars on the product? Isn't that what the digital age has allowed us web savvy music fans to do? Check out a record without paying for it and then deciding whether or not it's worth our money. You did a really good thing here, Mr. Reznor and it will have a ripple effect even if you don't see all the returns immediately. The message here is that tactics like this are effective in destroying the current music industry model. But, they need to be tweaked to figure out their full efficacy. Let's all just be patient.