Nine Inch Nails to record labels: so long and thanks for nothing
Now Nine Inch Nails appears to be following suit. Frontman Trent Reznor posted a brief message on the band's homepage that says the band is a "free agent," after spending 18 years watching record labels transform. Reznor says he's looking forward to developing a "direct relationship" with his audience. While he doesn't say anything about digital music downloads, all signs point to a Radiohead-like announcement in the near future.
Reznor has a history of encouraging fans to do interesting things with his music. While some are arguing that these moves by popular bands like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead signal a dramatic shift in the recording industry, things aren't really that simple. Yes, these bands are popular enough that they can afford to tell off the record labels. The bands will sell music, sell out concerts, and make plenty of money anyway.
But there are a thousand websites where you can already pay for music by independent musicians or download tracks for free. And the truth of the matter is few, if any, of the artists on these sites will ever be the next Nine Inch Nails or Radiohead. That's not because their music isn't good. It's because it's hard to attract the kind of following that well known bands have without a huge advertising budget.
What do you think? Are we seeing the start of a trend? Or are Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails just getting a lot of attention for doing something pretty insignificant?