Trent Reznor, Saul Williams release download stats
Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor and hip-hop artist Saul Williams--who recently released Williams' latest album as a digital download--have a message for their fellow musicians: fans are far more likely to download music for free than to pay for it.
In November, Reznor and Williams offered up Williams' "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust"--which Reznor produced--and gave fans the option to either download the album for free, or make a $5 contribution.
"Here's what I was thinking," Reznor wrote in a debriefing posted at his website. "... I thought if you offered the whole record free at reasonable quality--no strings attached--and offered a hassle-free way to show support that clearly goes straight to the artists who made it at an unquestionably low price, people would 'do the right thing.' I know, I know ... Well, now I DO know, and you will to."
According to Reznor's data, 154,449 fans had downloaded Williams' album as of Jan. 2; of that number, 28,322 (18.3%) chose to pay $5 for it.
"Is it good news that less than one in five [fans] feel it was worth $5?" Reznor continued. "I'm not sure what I was expecting, but that percentage ... seems disheartening.
"Add to that: we spent too much (correction, I spent too much) making the record utilizing an A-list team and studio ... an old publishing deal, sample clearance fees, paying to give the record away (bandwidth costs), and nobody's getting rich off this project."
Less disheartening, Reznor wrote, is the fact that the 154,449 downloads of Williams' album far surpasses the 33,897 copies Williams' previous album--a 2004, self-titled set--sold in the form of CDs.
"Saul's music is in more peoples' iPods than ever before and people are interested in him. He'll be touring throughout the year and we will continue to get the word out however we can.
"So--if you're an artist looking to utilize this method of distribution, make of these figures what you will and hopefully this info is enlightening," Reznor said in closing.
Reznor's experiment follows a similar endeavor by Radiohead, who last year released its latest album online, and gave fans the choice to download it for free or pay a denomination of their own choosing. The group has not revealed the stats from that arrangement.