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Reznor releases NIN album as free download

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Trent Renzor, seen here in 2005, is an outspoken opponent of the traditional model for music distribution. Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Renzor, seen here in 2005, is an outspoken opponent of the traditional model for music distribution. (Karl Walter/Getty)

With a short, online message saying "This one's on me," performer and music producer Trent Reznor posted the latest Nine Inch Nails album for free downloading via the band's website on Monday.

The Slip is the band's newest studio album, a followup to the four-part instrumental album Ghosts I-IV released in March.

Nine Inch Nails frontman

Reznor has posted The Slip's 10 tracks in a variety of audio formats accompanied by files containing the album's artwork and credits — available for no cost "as a thank you to our fans for your continued support," according to a message on the NIN website.

The posting also urged fans to spread and share the album however they'd like.

"We encourage you to remix it, share it with your friends, post it on your blog, play it on your podcast, give it to strangers, etc."

CD and vinyl versions of The Slip are slated for release in July.

Opposition grows to traditional distribution

Reznor — the creator, songwriter and principal member of the dark, industrial rock troupe — has increasingly railed against music world giants and the traditional distribution model. The band split from record label Interscope in late 2007.

"I have been under recording contracts for 18 years and have watched the business radically mutate from one thing to something inherently very different and it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a direct relationship with the audience as I see fit and appropriate," he said in October.

The band's last major release with Interscope was the spring 2007 album Year Zero and the autumn followup, Year Zero Remixed. The albums debuted after an innovative viral marketing campaign that created a dystopian world fans could investigate through clues left on USB flash drives planted at NIN concerts, in mysterious websites and phone numbers, in the band's songs and even on NIN concert T-shirts.

Despite the engaging campaign, the album did not sell as well as previous NIN albums, and Reznor blamed Interscope for mismanagement.

In March, he chose to release the first volume of NIN's new project, The Ghosts, onto file-sharing websites. Reznor made the remaining portion available in several different formats, including as a digital download for a small fee, as low-cost physical CDs and in pricier deluxe editions.

Monday's release of The Slip comes after Reznor recently posted two singles from the album for free on the band's iLike page (a music-oriented online social network).

Last fall, Reznor declared his independence from the traditional record industry framework at the same time British band Radiohead was making headlines for releasing its newest album, In Rainbows, online first via a pay-what-you-will plan on its website (a traditional CD release followed several months later).

The move was hailed as a first for a high-profile international recording act and, along with alternative release initiatives from the likes of Reznor and Prince, is attributed to an increasing shift in the way popular music is released for consumption.

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