Trent Reznor Tries To See How The “In Rainbows” Model Will Work With A Lesser-Known Artist

Oct 25th, 2007 // 24 Comments

niggytardust.jpgTrent Reznor announced today that he’d be distributing an album via the Internet–not a new Nine Inch Nails record, but the next album by Saul Williams, The Inevitable Rise And Liberation Of NiggyTardust!, which Reznor says is the “most involved I’ve been with any project outside NIN since Antichrist Superstar.” The album’s official site launched today and is now taking pre-orders for its Nov. 1 release, and in a move that bears some similarity to In Rainbows‘ pay-as-you-go model, people can either get it for free or “directly support the artists involved in the creation of this music” and throw Williams five bucks.

People who pay nothing get the album as 192KBps MP3s, while those who chip in $5 also get higher-quality MP3s and FLACs of the album. (Everyone gets a PDF with art and lyrics as well.) As Reznor notes, Williams is “not the household name (yet!) that Radiohead is,” so finding out whether or not people will take a five-dollar flyer on an artist they might not yet know should, at the very least, provide a bit more evidence on whether or not the In Rainbows model is at all viable beyond the most Internet-beloved artists. (Personally, I’m going to kick Williams the money–after all, $5 is cheaper than a beer at most bars in New York, and those don’t even last 40 minutes most of the time.)

Saul Williams – The Inevitable Rise And Liberation Of NiggyTardust! [Official site]
niggytardust! []


  1. janine

    Where’s Prick?

  2. Ned Raggett

    It ain’t easy.

  3. Ned Raggett

    It’d be interesting to know when the details (192 vs. FLAC, etc.) were decided upon, ie before or after Radiohead’s announcement of 160 and the fact that no art was provided. Either way, a shrewd move.

  4. brainchild

    I think this is an awesome idea. I’ll kick in $5.

  5. silkyjumbo

    I really like Saul Williams and Radiohead. I’m much more likely to buy this record. Radiohead’s doing okay without my five dollars.

  6. Lucas Jensen

    I like it and I don’t know Saul Williams. But I like the business model.

  7. Laurrel

    Yeah, I’ll pay.

  8. Tenno

    I would pay, but I did the ‘mature adult’ get out of debt and ditch the cards thing…. If the physical album launches at anytime I’ll pay, or I’m going to give a friend a Lincoln and have them order it for me.

    But I’d prefer the mp3 for free to rock out and the album in official physical form.

    Yeah I’m one of those; walls of vinyl, stacks of books, 3 thousand cd’s….

  9. revmatty

    I bought In Rainbows, and I’ll buy this without even hearing it just on principle. That principle being that artists should get paid and anything I can do to bring about the demise of the music industry as we know it today while still helping artists put food on the table is worth doing.

  10. extracrispy

    I’m curious to hear what a Reznor-produced rap album sounds like. So I’m in.

  11. hiphopnerd

    Well I’m definitely excited for new Saul Williams material, but disappointed there’s no physical option at all. The following scheme would be ideal:

    1) Free: decent quality mp3s for curious listeners & cheapskates
    2)$5: High quality mp3s & lossless for the fans & generous
    3)$10-$15: Physical disc for the really devoted fans and people who haven’t given up buying CD’s yet.

  12. brainchild

    @hiphopnerd: why can’t you download the FLAC and then burn it to CD and print out the artwork?

    Also, what did you think of the way Mos Def’s True Magic album was released?

  13. silkyjumbo

    @brainchild: I know this wasn’t directed at me, but I was working music retail when that Mos Def record came out. At first I thought it was a mistake. Then I thought the price point should have been lowered. It was a tough sale, too. Customers would look at it and say, “Where’s the rest of it?”

  14. infinit Loop

    they really expect the theory “hey – pay us money for an album by someone you’ve never heard or heard of, and who plays a style that you may not even like” to work? of course people paid for radiohead – they’ve HEARD radiohead and know they make at least decent music, even if they haven’t heard this particular album. i pay for stuff i’ve pirated all the time, but part of the reason i pirate is because i don’t want to pay for music i may hate and have never even heard.

  15. ghostyhead

    @silkyjumbo: When I worked in retail a few years back, we had a handful of rap-flavor-of-the-week buyers who would purchase a CD, open it on the spot, take out the disc, and shove the jewel case and artwork back to us to throw away. Makes me shudder just thinking about it.

  16. Maura Johnston

    @infinit_loop: surely you have spent five dollars on a piece of food you’ve never tasted before? or more than that on a ticket for a movie you’d never seen before?

  17. DeeJayQueue

    @infinit_loop: that’s why you can DL it for free first. If you like it, send money and you get better quality tracks and PDF for it.

  18. Halfwit

    @ghostyhead: Considering that most of that artwork would’ve probably been ads for the upcoming albums of other artists on the label (the Cashmoney/No Lmit marketing plan), they were probably doing the right thing.

  19. hiphopnerd


    Well that’s what I’d end up doing if there isn’t any sort of official CD release. Completely illogical, but I’d still prefer paying extra for a physical CD even if the copy being sold to me was a CDR with inkjet printed artwork. Doing it myself makes me even more aware that it’s not a “real” disc.

    As far as True Magic- the lack of artwork, lackluster reviews, and discussion of a summer release with artwork meant that I never really considered buying it at retail. I still haven’t heard any of it, but I’ll likely pick it up through yourmusic sometime.

  20. qyntellspitbull

    I’m surprised more people haven’t actually heard of Saul Williams here. He was in that movie “Slam,” and has a few good albums under his belt, even if some of his tunes sound a little too “Judgement Night” soundtrack at times… but regardless, totally worth $5.

  21. dlab


    I’m surprised you haven’t heard about Saul, because he is a badass. Give him a shot. He’s from the def poetry scene and has a lot of spoken material besides his hip-hop stuff. And I’m sure he wouldn’t mind you pirating one or two of his songs to convince yourself that you need to spend the $5 to download his CD.

    Plus he has written one of the most awesome lyrics ever: “Not until you listen to Rakim on a rocky mountaintop have you heard hip-hop.”

  22. mullingitover

    Saul Williams is the motherfucking man. I will definitely buy his album, this is awesome.

  23. janine

    @qyntellspitbull: I have not seen “Slam” and have no idea who this guy is. But since so many people in this thread are so psyched, what the hey, I’m going for it.

  24. brainchild

    was there ever a follow-up to this? because this album is ridiculously awesome. i hated saul’s other albums and only contributed to this one because of the principle behind it’s release. but wow. i’m glad i downloaded!

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