Trent Reznor’s Radiohead smackdown

Musicians dissing each other is nothing new — but it’s usually over their choice of wardrobe or girlfriends, rather than their commitment to new digital delivery methods. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor likes to push the envelope, however, so perhaps it’s no surprise that he has been smack-talking about fellow alternative artists Radiohead and their online album experiment, in which they allowed fans to download In Rainbows and pay whatever they wanted (including zero).

In a recent interview (the full version is here), Reznor called the offer “insincere” and said it was a “bait-and-switch” tactic designed primarily as a “marketing gimmick,” since the band offered lower-quality sound files for download and admitted that most of their efforts were spent on the release of a traditional CD through the usual channels. Not Trent — he offered his latest album, Ghosts I-IV, online starting March 3 as a full download at CD quality for $5, with a range of other offers at extra cost, including a super-deluxe version for $300 that came with a CD, a DVD, a vinyl record, custom artwork and Reznor’s autograph.

Reznor has also one-upped Radiohead in another department as well: while the British band has been coy about just how many people paid for their album, and what they ultimately made from the experiment, the Nine Inch Nails singer/songwriter has been telling anyone who will listen what he made from the online release of Ghosts I-IV — which allowed fans to download nine tracks for free, pay $5 for the full 36-track release, pay $10 for a double CD or $75 for a special Blu-Ray DVD edition.

According to Trent, the band made $1.6-million from the experiment — including 2,500 versions of the deluxe $300 package — and fans engaged in more than 781,000 transactions (although individual buyers may have generated more than one transaction). That is almost certainly more than the Nine Inch Nails would have made from a traditional album released through a record label, plus Trent gets to stick it to Radiohead at the same time. And now he’s started a YouTube-based, user-generated video festival based around the album.

In other recent music-related news, R.E.M. will be streaming an online preview of their new album Accelerate through the music-sharing service iLike starting March 24 and continuing until the official release of the album on April 1.

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