As expected, Nine Inch Nails is utilizing the Internet to disseminate its new instrumental album, "Ghosts I-IV," which went live at 9 p.m. ET tonight (March 2) via the Trent Reznor-led group's Web site. "Ghosts" will also see physical release via RED Distribution on April 8, Billboard has learned.
Fans can receive the first nine songs from the 36-track project, which was recorded during "an intense 10-week period last fall" and likely to spawn additional volumes, for free, or the entire album can be obtained digitally for $5.
"I've been considering and wanting to make this kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn't have made sense until this point," says Reznor, who collaborated on the music with Alan Moulder, Atticus Ross, Alessandro Cortini, Adrian Belew and Brian Viglione. "This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective -- dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams. I'm very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference."
There are several other ordering options available for "Ghosts I-IV," each of which come with immediate access to the album in digital form. The standard double-CD set is retailing on Reznor's site for $10, while a $70 deluxe edition in a hardcover fabric slipcase includes the audio CDs, a DVD with multi-track files for the music and a Blu-Ray disc with high-definition stereo mixes.
For $300, devotees can opt for the "ultra-deluxe limited edition" package, which features all the elements in the deluxe edition plus a four-LP vinyl set and two Giclee prints amid "luxurious packaging." This edition is limited to 2,500 copies and is autographed by Reznor.
Both deluxe editions will ship on May 1; a stand-alone 4-LP set will be available April 8 at traditional retail. Interested parties can sample a host of the tracks from NIN's site. The full download is also available from Amazon.com, to which it was delivered by TuneCore, while the first 9 tracks were uploaded to BitTorrent sites like the Pirate Bay.
Demand for the new music appeared to be immediate and heavy. Just after 9:30 p.m. ET, the site was down temporarily due to traffic.
Nine Inch Nails' contract with longtime label Interscope expired last October. Interscope then released a remix album, "Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D," and holds the rights to release a greatest hits collection at some point in the future.
As a precursor to the online release of "Ghosts," Reznor collaborated with Saul Williams on an album dubbed "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust," which was offered as a free download in 192kbps MP3 form, or as a higher fidelity 320kbps MP3 or FLAC version for $5. Initial statistics revealed only 18% of fans chose to pay for the album.
Reznor's move also follows Radiohead's "name your own price" download scheme for its "In Rainbows" album last fall. And while both acts have jumped ship from major labels to release music completely independently, one source close to NIN believes the differentiation between the approaches of artists in this position will actually be what changes the game.
"Most of the time with a label, they try to squeeze that differentiation out," the source told Billboard last fall. "Now, there's nothing that stops Reznor or Radiohead from doing it uniquely their way. They can do it how it best works for them, without pressure."
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