As for Radiohead, fans purchased 1.75 million hard copies of the group's "In Rainbows," which was also released at pay-what-you-wish pricing, making the album more commercially successful than the group's 2003 "Hail to the Thief" (990,000 copies) or 2001's "Amnesiac" (900,000).
Now, Nine Inch Nails has made another fan-friendly digital move. Frontman Trent Reznor this week released high-quality video footage of live performances. "The internet is full of surprises these days," Reznor wrote on the group's site. "I was contacted by a mysterious, shadowy group of subversives who SOMEHOW managed to film a substantial amount (over 400 GB!) of raw, unedited HD footage from three separate complete shows of our Lights in the Sky tour. Security must have been lacking at these shows because the quality of the footage is excellent."
He also provided a link and invited fans to create their own remixes.
With the moves, Reznor is quickly solidifying his reputation as one of the most Web-savvy major musicians out there. More than simply offering free tracks, he's willing to cede control to fans, who may or may not come up with remixes that he'll like. While mashups are inevitable in an era when consumers can create their own media, not all musicians (or filmmakers, comedians, etc) are willing to risk letting fans reinterpret finished work.
The record labels themselves are still trying to keep people from sharing files -- a battle they've been losing for 10 years now. The Recording Industry Association of America, which threatened more than 30,000 Web users with legal action, is now pushing a plan to work with Internet service providers to sanction file-sharers. It might serve the group better to instead study innovators like Reznor and figure out how to engage, as opposed to alienate, music fans.