Why Reznor returned to major label
Trent Reznor says the pros of signing to a major label outweigh the cons – and that’s why his independence “experiment” is over.
After a negative relationship with Universal Music Group towards the end of Nine Inch Nails’ career, he vowed to retain full artistic and financial control. But he’s now signed new outfit How To Destroy Angels – also featuring his wife and long-time collaborator Atticus Ross – to Columbia Records.
Speaking to former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne at a chat presentation in Los Angeles at the weekend, Reznor recalled discovering that Radiohead were better-promoted in the Czech Republic than NIN.
He said: “We’re playing in Prague and I see flyers up for Radiohead, who are playing the same place we’re playing, six months from then. I walk into the record shop and there isn’t a section that says Nine Inch Nails.”
He realised the important of marketing, and that one of the main attractions of a record deal was “to have a team of people who are better at that than I am, worldwide. That felt like it was worth slicing the pie up, monetarily.”
He describes his relationship with Columbia, so far, as “pleasantly pleasant” – a far cry from his battles with UMG, during which he slated their marketing policy for 2007 album Year Zero and called on fans to pirate the record instead, saying: “Steal, steal and steal some more – give it to all your friends and keep on stealing.”
Around the same time he said: “As the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer even more. As a reward for being a true fan you get ripped off.”
Now Reznor says his plan to remain independent was an “experiment” in line with his musical experimentation.
Meanwhile, British Phonographic Industry boss Geoff Taylor has hailed a “global high” for UK-based labels after reporting that revenues outside traditional CD and DVD sales had risen to over £200m in 2011, around a fifth of the trade’s total annual profit.
Taylor said: “British music companies have reinvented their business for the digital age, marketing and promoting music intelligently through every channel available. British music is on a global high and the UK’s creative industries have enormous potential to generate new jobs and growth – if government gets serious about tackling online theft of content.”
A 2010 report by the London School of Economics suggested pirating had zero effect on record label incomes – and that bosses were lying when they said it did.