We offer the entire record free (as in totally free to the visitor - we pay bandwidth costs) as 192 MP3s, or for $5 you can choose higher fidelity versions and feel good about supporting the artist directly. We offer all major CCs and PayPal as payment options.
Here's what I was thinking: Fans are interested in music as soon as it's available (that's a good thing, remember) and usually that's a leak from the label's manufacturing plants. Offering the record digitally as its first appearance in the marketplace eliminates that problem. 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 too.
Saul's previous record was released in 2004 and has sold 33,897 copies.
As of 1/2/08,
154,449 people chose to download Saul's new record.
28,322 of those people chose to pay $5 for it, meaning:
18.3% chose to pay.
Of those paying,
3220 chose 192kbps MP3
19,764 chose 320kbps MP3
5338 chose FLAC
Keep in mind not one cent was spent on marketing this record. The only marketing was Saul and myself talking as loudly as we could to anybody that would listen.
If 33,897 people went out and bought Saul's last record 3 years ago (when more people bought CDs) and over 150K - five times as many - sought out this new record, that's great - right?
I have to assume the people knowing about this project must either be primarily Saul or NIN fans, as there was very little media coverage outside our direct influence. If that assumption is correct - that most of the people that chose to download Saul's record came from his or my own fan-base - is it good news that less than one in five feel it was worth $5? I'm not sure what I was expecting but that percentage - primarily from fans - seems disheartening.
Add to that: we spent too much (correction, I spent too much) making the record utilizing an A-list team and studio, Musicane fees, an old publishing deal, sample clearance fees, paying to give the record away (bandwidth costs), and nobody's getting rich off this project.
I just paid $0 for Saul's uncreatively titled album, Niggy Tardust (which is a play on David Bowie, and probably also Will Smith, but then who really cares when dissecting tripe puns?). He describes his album as something like "a wall of sound so attractive that people would pound their way in to get to it." e.g., I guess, that if it were playing behind some fence or something I'd be inclined to hop the fence to go have a listen.
It's rather apropos that he covers Sunday Bloody Sunday on this latest effort, as I have a joke I like to make about that band.
Q: What's the greatest album U2 ever made?
A: The Joshua Tree
Now, I more or less follow this philosophy and believe it. I do own a copy of War, however. But since we're not talking about rock music, and we are talking about the sort of avant garde music which would include lines like "what good is music you can't fuck to?" and refer to itself as a wall of sound (much like Mr. Reznor), let me discuss instead Mr. Reznor, as I listen to The Joshua Tree. I bought each and every album you produced until The Downward Spiral. I even bought the various UK versions and all the different singles ("Closer to God") and so on. I craved them. It's interesting, looking back, though, that what I really liked, What I kept going back to, were Sin, and Fixed (even more than Broken, strangely), and the singles that came out of the early work.
Regardless, I haven't bought anything of yours since. The simple reason for this is as simple as it is for U2. You're making music, and I'm not liking it. Whether there's a new generation of people who can find their angsty get-off that I did when I listened to "Get Down Make Love" or the swinging, sultry "Head Like a Hole" remixes, or whether the music buying public is just stupid, if you're still selling music, it's a surprise to me.
So here we have Saul. You seem so offended that people don't pay for the music that you've given them. Should I be paid for the download of the record? It cost you money, but it cost me money, too. Consider that a wash, then. Oh, your A-team recording studio and your star artist and all that. What does that amount to? 59.3 minutes, 83.7 megs of garbage. And not in an irresistable wall of sound garbage. Just garbage. Garbage like you'd find in a slum in one of the nicer slums of, say, Johannesburg. Just garbage, man. And to liken it to Bowie or even Smith is laughable; so laughable, in fact, as to not even be remotely insulting.
Trent, the reason X% of people are paying Saul's painfully produced music and not more is the remainder (where the "remainder" is defined as those people subtracted from the whole) listened to it and thought, gack, this is garbage.
Most likely they turned it off at the first track. But I try real hard to find new, good music that I can tell people about, so I listened to it. The whole thing. And what did I get for it? Nothing that was advertised, nothing I wanted to listen to, and a complete waste of time that I was compelled – by guilt no less – to actually pay for.
Really, Trent. Your hubris is so astounding it leaves me without a sarcastic dismissal of your tripe.