A short story about how the music industry has changed (though not all of them have recognized this yet).

Earlier this evening, a Twitter message alerted me to the Ghosts instrumental album that was released by Nine Inch Nails today, completely announced. I had been curious about Trent Reznor’s plans, as he had previously voiced his discontent with (and freedom from) the music industry.

So when I checked out Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts website, I was not disappointed. First of all, there’s the music itself. Ghosts I - IV is an instrumental music collection - a first for NIN. I was able to listen to it right on the website, and based on my initial impression, this is quite possibly the best material that NIN has released in a long time (I wasn’t a big fan of any of their albums after the 1994 release of The Downward Spiral). It certainly sounds like great music to code to, so I’m uploading it to my iPod for tomorrow.

But more important is how the music is being made available. The first 9 tracks (Ghosts I) are available as a free download, in 320kbps mp3s, as well as a 40-page PDF booklet. The full 36 tracks (Ghosts I - IV) can be purchased on the website for the extremely fair price of $5. A 2 CD set will be released for $10 on April 8 for those that prefer physical media. In addition, a deluxe edition and ultra-deluxe limited edition are also available for $75 and $300 respectively for those that have way too much money to spare…

On a slightly sour note, the NIN website appears to have been hammered when I tried to download Ghosts I. But a few tweets later I found out that Ghosts is also available for download on Amazon (for the same price of $5), which suffered from no such issues. :)

What is interesting is that it’s not just the music distribution mechanism that is changing. It is also how music is being discovered and marketed. As far as I am aware, there was no marketing around this release, or even any sort of formal announcement. Instead, music is being discovered virally, by word of mouth, blogs, and even Twitter. Interesting times!