Good on him. And yeah, that new Nine Inch Nails, in stores now, is terrific.
By Fred Mills
Two decades ago the Flaming Lips took a bunch of stick from indier-than-thou purists who wanted to take them to task for being on a major label—nevermind the subtleties and complexities of working with labels, both major, minor and nano, which meant that one had to choose what was the right strategy at any given point in time for one’s career and NOT someone else’s perception of your career. Time has proven that the Lips, in winding up on Warner Bros (and sticking with them, incidentally), forged a long-term career that has worked for them. It’s irrelevant whether or not it would have worked for anyone else.
If you have a problem with that, go start your own band and start the career navigation. Me, as a journalist I’ve supported bands both indie and major since the late ‘70s. There was this little ol’ band called The Ramones who released their first LP on a major label, Sire (though, admittedly, at the time Sire definitely acted more like an indie, in all its maverick, Seymour Stein-steered glory); another hero of mine, Patti Smith, has spent her entire adult life on majors, Arista and then Columbia, following a self-released/vanity press 45. Meanwhile, my track record as an indie supporter over the years is well established; one of my first published reviews was of a Pere Ubu 45 on the band’s own Hearthan label, and this weekend I’m about to polish off a couple of album reviews of a pair of bands on Merge. So again, if you have a problem with that… go start your own fanzine or blog.
That’s why I love the following quote from Trent Reznor, whose new album with Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks, is just out via the Sony mega-conglomerate. I purchased it in a record store this afternoon—on the spot, as they were playing it over the stereo, and it was amazing. I’ve never said that about a NiN record before, by the way. Would it have sounded better on a righteous, never-say-die indie label? Or if it had been funded by a bunch of hairy-palmed superfans via Kickstarter? I’ll never know because I didn’t even bother to look at who released it. Maybe more people should allow themselves some sort of blindfold test in that regard: listen to a record, and if you like it, buy it. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Ignore everything else, from the marketing campaigns to the viral videos to the talking heads’ and pundits’ assessments.
That Reznor quote, via Spin:
“Nine Inch Nails feels bigger than it ever has. Is it because we’re on Columbia? Is it scarcity? I don’t know, but it doesn’t feel bigger in the sense that we’ve desperately adopted some new clothing style. It feels organic, and it feels good not to be worrying about whether or not we shipped vinyl to the cool record store in Prague. I know that what we’re doing flies in the face of the Kickstarter Amanda-Palmer-Start-a-Revolution thing, which is fine for her, but I’m not super-comfortable with the idea of Ziggy Stardust shaking his cup for scraps. I’m not saying offering things for free or pay-what-you-can is wrong. I’m saying my personal feeling is that my album’s not a dime. It’s not a buck. I made it as well as I could, and it costs 10 bucks, or go fuck yourself.”
Right on, Trent.